A point gained or two lost?
The League One table will say it’s the former, as this 1-1 draw put 10-man Wolves back in the top two with Leyton Orient’s game against Bristol City postponed.
Head coach Kenny Jackett felt it was two dropped his side dominated a stirring second half at Prenton Park even before Rovers were also reduced to 10 men.
And it wasn’t difficult to disagree with Jackett’s frustrations, given the way Wolves rallied following a less-than-convincing first half where their resolve and normally solid defensive organisation was shaken by the 18th minute sending-off of Richard Stearman.
More and more, this season is evolving into survival of the fittest, and the way it’s carrying on, it could end up being a case of last man standing.
With James Henry and Jack Price missing for the trip to the Wirral, they have lost two more players – Stearman and Ethan Ebanks-Landell – for tomorrow’s long journey to Gillingham, who could afford to put their feet up after their game at Stevenage was postponed.
But, just as the chasing pack continue to close in on them, and, in the case of the juggernaut-like run of Brentford, overtake them by three points, so Wolves are digging in.
The way they pressed and harried Tranmere even when they were down to 10 men against 11 suggests this Wolves team aren’t going to be found wanting for the ability to scrap in the long months ahead.
That they will be shorn of four players for their longest trip of the season will stretch this squad to the limits.
But like Jackett has said several times, no-one said it was going to be easy for Wolves in League One this season.
Yesterday’s point took this current run of Wolves’ to three wins, five draws and two defeats since the wheels were unbolted in that second half at Carlisle.
Wolves’ promotion bandwagon has been jolted but it hasn’t veered violently off course. Yet they again proved their staying power in the driving rain at Prenton Park.
The more critical fans might argue that against a threadbare defence featuring two debutants on loan – Everton right-back Matthew Pennington and Fulham centre-back Stephen Arthurworrey – Wolves’ opposition were there for the taking.
Their efforts to do so weren’t for the lack of trying, with Tranmere’s Owain Fon Williams the far busier of the two keepers.
But Wolves will be wondering when they can rediscover a finishing touch after more wasted chances and the lack of a killer pass. Bakary Sako should have done better than roll the ball wide after working himself into a shooting position following a one-two with the recalled Leigh Griffiths in their first chance after 14 minutes.
But Wolves’ chances were severely jolted four minutes later when Stearman recklessly pulled back Ryan Lowe as he was clean through on goal after the Wolves man had been caught napping from Andy Robinson’s pass. Wolves were all at sixes and sevens for a while as they tried to reorganise and Jason Koumas’s resulting curling free-kick flew wide and James Wallace headed past the post as Tranmere went for the jugular.
The visitors had more defending to do in the 31st minute when Danny Batth blocked Robinson’s shot. But they couldn’t do anything to prevent Tranmere taking a 34th-minute lead.
Wolves failed to close down as Ash Taylor advanced forward from the back and, when Lowe peeled off the last man and the Taylor’s chip dropped to him over the top, the veteran striker caught it early as Carl Ikeme came out and the ball squeezed in the far corner of the net for his 15th goal of the season.
Wolves, who had looked uncertain and shaky after the disruption of Stearman’s dismissal, finally fashioned another chance when the excellent Michael Jacobs exchanged passes with Griffiths, turned a defender and saw his low shot tipped away in their best move to date.
From the resulting corner, Fon Williams came to Rovers’ rescue again when he palmed away Batth’s header at the foot of the post.
Tranmere’s numerical advantage disappeared a minute before the break when Wallace earned his marching orders for a disgraceful studs-up challenge on Ethan Ebanks-Landell, who suffered knee ligament damage.
Wolves, who introduced Scott Golbourne for Ebanks-Landell at the break and moved Dave Edwards to right-back, immediately looked more determined and organised and soon left Tranmere on the back foot from the first whistle.
They eventually levelled with a superb strike from Edwards, who unleashed a tremendous left-foot volley from 16 yards that Fon Williams could only help into the roof of the net after Jacobs had cut the ball back from the left.
Jacobs, who had another high quality game, had Fon Williams at full stretch to tip over his chip.
But with both teams going for the win, it became end to end and Wolves had a double let-off on the hour.
In an absorbing, no-holds-barred final 30 minutes played in driving rain, Liam Ridehalgh missed his kick in front of goal after Taylor’s point-blank header had been blocked.
As the game continued to go from end to end, the dangerous Kristoffer Peterson was clean through only to delay his shot and be shepherded out of danger by McDonald, who had a growing influence as the game wore on.
Wolves went close again when Ricketts’ curling shot was tipped over, Jacobs had an effort blocked, then Sako was only a foot away with a free-kick from 25 yards.
But Wolves’ hearts were in their mouths when Peterson had an effort disallowed for offside, with a Tranmere player in front of Ikeme.
Wolves’ final throw of the dice came from substitute David Davis in the fourth minute of time added on when his left-foot shot was tipped away.
But while pleased with a point, Jackett’s side maybe felt hard done by that it wasn’t all three.
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