Tranmere can’t bury Bury but do make the Play-Offs

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Tranmere secured a League Two Play-Off place with a tense 1-1 draw at Prenton Park as Bury also clinched promotion to League One.

James Norwood’s first half header, his 30th goal this season, was cancelled out by a Jake Caprice own goal in the second period to see the spoils being shared at Prenton Park.

It was a frantic start to proceedings under the lights, with both sides on the front foot and playing with aggression.

Liam Ridehalgh challenges in the air on his return to the starting XI.

After a scare for Rovers when Jay O’Shea tested the reflexes of Rovers’ keeper, Scott Davies, the Whites manufactured the breakthrough. Norwood nodded home from a superb Kieron Morris corner on the 11th minute mark.

Norwood had a chance to double the lead soon after following an excellent pass by Morris, but he was denied by the feet of Joe Murphy in the Bury goal.

Bury boss Ryan Lowe’s troops were forced into a substitution on the verge of half time, with defender Eoghan O’Connell replacing Will Aimson as Tranmere threatened a second, despite the Bury counter-attacking threat.

Jay Harris win possession back as Tranmere applied the pressure in the first half.

Bury started the second half on top – penning TRFC into their own half. O’Shea forced a great Davies stop in the 46th minute, before the Shakers’ top scorer, Nicky Maynard, rattled the woodwork with a diving header.

In the 55th minute, the pressure told as Danny Mayor’s effort was diverted into his own net by Caprice to level the scoring, sending the away fans wild.

Norwood then had a chance to restore the lead on the hour but was denied from point-blank range by Murphy, before the visitors went close through an O’Shea free-kick, 25-yards from goal.

Tranmere midfielder Jay Harris blazed over from the edge of the area with the final opportunity of the contest to end hopes of a Rovers victory.

Ben Pringle chases a lofted pass for Tranmere in the second half.

Three things we learned:

Automatic promotion hopes over

With a win only good enough to keep hopes of a top three finish alive, Rovers now know their chance of back to back promotions is through the Play-offs. After returning to the Football League last May through this avenue, Micky Mellon’s men will be confident of making it to Wembley and winning under the arch once again.

Norwood on target

League Two’s Player of the Season had endured a barren run of form in front of goal by his standards in recent matches, without a goal in five outings before tonight. Rovers will hope his strike marks a flurry of scoring contributions going into the crucial two-legged Play-Off semi-final tie in a couple of weeks. His performances could be the key to Rovers’ promotion aspirations.

One to go

The final league fixture before the Play-Offs comes this Saturday away at 19th placed Crawley Town. It will be important for Tranmere to perform well and look to pick up maximum points and build momentum heading into the crunch games.

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