Ahead of the game, Nigel Adkins said, “You have to give the utmost respect. John’s an experienced manager, what he’s done, how they’ve overachieved consistently. You have to doff your cap and say well done.
“We know it’s going to be a tough game. You’ve got to compete, win knock downs, defend set plays. If you give them time, they’ll play. From my point of view, be aware of their strengths, mindful of the surprises, but make sure we can impose ourselves on the opposition.”
Tranmere Rovers returned to knowing the feeling of winning a game with a 2-0 triumph over Accrington Stanley at Prenton Park on Saturday, courtesy of a brace by Josh Hawkes.
In his role as interim manager, Nigel Adkins made two alterations to last week’s starting lineup against Crawley. Joe Yarney and Regan Hendry replaced Connor Wood and Reece McAlear.
Rovers had the game’s opening opportunity as Sam Taylor delivered a pass from the right that landed at Charlie Jolley’s feet. Jolley skillfully manoeuvred around his opponent before testing Toby Savin, the visitors’ goalkeeper.
Hawkes veered inward from the left soon after, compelling another stop from Savin, who deflected the attempt beyond his goalpost.
Rovers earned a penalty in the 12th minute due to a handball call, following Sam Taylor’s attempt to flick the ball over Accrington’s left-back, Rosaire Longelo, who obstructed it with his arm.
Hawkes took his position and held off until Savin committed to one direction before smoothly placing it into the other side of the net, giving Rovers the lead.
Accrington responded with some pressure, as Tommy Leigh fired a long-range shot following a delivery from Seb Quirk. However, Luke McGee handled it skillfully.
Rovers held their ground and countered by regaining control. Hendry narrowly missed the target with a right-wing free-kick, just wide of Savin’s far post.
In a significant turn of events, Jay Baghuelo received a straight red card just four minutes before halftime for a foul on Hawkes.
Hendry came close to doubling Rovers’ advantage with a first-time strike from a precise pass by Dan Pike just before half-time. However, Tranmere entered the break with just a one-goal lead.
Rovers indeed increased their lead four minutes into the second half, as Hawkes once again found the net with a long-range shot that took a deflection and nestled into the bottom corner.
At the hour mark, Adkins introduced a couple of substitutions, bringing in Chris Merrie and Harvey Saunders in place of Brad Walker and Taylor.
Tranmere maintained their dominance throughout the second half, playing some fluid football. Hawkes came close to securing a hat-trick, but his shot was expertly tipped over the bar.
Later, Jennings nearly surprised substitute goalkeeper Jack McIntyre with a long-range effort, but the young goalkeeper recovered swiftly.
Accrington crafted their best opportunity of the match in the 79th minute when Matt Lowe faced McGee one-on-one, yet the Rovers’ goalkeeper emerged unbeaten.
As the game neared its conclusion, Rovers regained momentum. Tom Davies compelled McIntyre to make a save from a corner, ultimately securing three points for Tranmere at home.