A second half strike by Junior Mondal dented Tranmere Rovers’ automatic promotion hopes, as Forest Green snatched a Good Friday victory at Prenton Park.
The winger whipped an unstoppable hit into the top corner early in the second period to grab maximum points for the visitors, despite a dominant Rovers display.
Tranmere started the game brightly in the Wirral sunshine. Connor Jennings went close four minutes in, curling the ball wide of the post after a neat one-two with Ben Pringle.
Moments later, League Two’s recently crowned player of the season, James Norwood, attempted a chip from distance which sailed over the bar.
Against the run of play, Forest Green had their first opportunity, and George Williams forced Tranmere keeper Scott Davies to produce an eye-catching finger-tip stop.
On 27 minutes, Rovers were dealt a big blow when in-form defender Mark Ellis was forced off, to be replaced by Sid Nelson.
The remaining action of the first half failed to yield many chances for either side, though Zoumana Bakayogo fired the Super White Army into full voice with a marauding run from his own half, but lacked the crucial end product.
Just two minutes after the restart, Forest Green broke the deadlock with a fine left-footed finish by Mondal.
The Whites came close to a leveller when substitute Paul Mullin attempted an overhead kick on the hour mark, testing James Montgomery’s reflexes. Jay Harris then whistled an effort narrowly wide, as Rovers upped the tempo.
A Mullin free-kick with 15 minutes to go rattled the woodwork as the relentless probing for an equaliser continued. Later, with the clock winding down, he dragged another shot wide, and the possibility of Rovers rescuing a point faded away.
Three things we learned
Gap widens to automatic promotion spots
With Mansfield Town easing past struggling Morecambe at home, Tranmere are now four points adrift of the top three. With just three games left in the campaign, the most feasible possibility of Rovers reaching League One is now through the play-offs. This is something which the club is accustomed to, after returning to the Football League last term that way.
Ellis injury concern
The centre-back was substituted after appearing to suffer a knee problem following a challenge in the first half, and he was down receiving treatment for some time. An ever-present in the Rovers rearguard in recent months, losing him for the few remaining fixtures would be a hammer blow for the side.
Sensational Super White Army support
Despite a disappointing result, the SWA stuck with the players throughout the afternoon. Over 9,000 fans came through the gates for the scheduled penultimate home game of the season. Whilst it is an old cliché about being the ‘12th’ man, Rovers’ supporters have certainly displayed passionate backing all season, and no doubt this will continue as the quest for promotion continues.