Two second half Stoke City strikes resulted in a pre-season defeat for Tranmere Rovers at Prenton Park.
Tommy Smith’s thunderbolt hit and a headed goal from Danny Batth late on secured a 2-0 victory for the Championship side.
The Potters showed their quality in the opening stages dominating possession and were nearly rewarded with a breakthrough. Sam Clucas latched onto a Nick Powell cross 3 minutes in, but guided his effort wide of Scott Davies’ net.
Micky Mellon’s troops continued to struggle to gain a foothold, as James McClean, Powell and Benik Afobe all had opportunities to open the scoring against newly-promoted Rovers.
On the 35 minute mark, Tranmere created their first meaningful chances of the match in quick succession. First, Paul Mullin nodded down to Ishmael Miller who saw his effort blocked for a corner. Seconds later, the Englishman swivelled on the edge of the box and fired narrowly wide, to the relief of England International, Jack Butland.
Nathan Jones’ team took the lead early in the second period. In the 53rd minute, Sid Nelson’s clearance fell straight to the new signing, Tommy Smith, who smashed it home giving Davies no chance.
Just past the hour mark, both sides made wholesale changes allowing for an introduction of fresh legs.
Nelson, who remained on the pitch, suffered an injury scare in the 67th minute after sliding to ground and he appeared to damage his shoulder. The centre back was able to continue until he was substituted in the latter stages.
Batth completed the scoring, banishing any hopes of a Rovers revival when he powered home a header from close range in the 85th minute, to wrap up a comfortable Stoke win.
Is a lack of goals a worry?
With last season’s leading goalscorer, James Norwood, moving to Ipswich Town, the void to fill in the squad this campaign was always going to be huge. After today and the previous pre-season outing versus Liverpool, Rovers have failed to find the net. Mellon will hope his new recruits and other striking options at the club can fire when the season starts in a couple of weeks.
Nelson injury concern
The English defender suffered a shoulder injury mid-way through the second half. Despite carrying on for some time, he was eventually forced off with a couple of minutes left to play. Rovers will hope this substitution was precautionary as Nelson could be a key player in the upcoming campaign.