The Hatters began November with a goal-less draw on The Wirral at Tranmere Rovers, in a contest rearranged from its original September date following the passing of The Queen.
County took to the field, following an afternoon and early evening of persistent rain, with an un-altered starting line-up for the second successive match. There was one change among the substitutes named at home to Sutton three days earlier – with Callum Camps returning from his three-match suspension to replace Ash Palmer on the bench.
The night saw the return to Prenton Park of several former Tranmere players – with gaffer Dave Challinor, assistant manager Clint Hill, as well as current Hatters Connor Jennings (a substitute on the night) and Calum MacDonald, all having plied their trade for the ‘Super White Army’ at various points over the past 28 years. The hosts, for their part, included in their 18-player squad midfielder Jon Nolan, who had turned out for County in non-league’s first tier between 2011 and 2013.
As it happened, MacDonald was the first player to unleash an attempt in the general direction of goal – although his shot on the bounce, with 11 minutes played, flew well over the crossbar and and into the large Kop stand.
Five minutes later, a Will Collar cross from the left found Kyle Wootton, whose header also cleared the bar. And the hosts, shortly afterwards, registered the evening’s first shot on target through their captain, Kane Hemmings, albeit from a distance and at a benign pace that presented no difficulty for Ben Hinchliffe when he was called upon to gather up the effort.
The Hatters were also on target following the first half’s mid-point, when Collar, from a MacDonald cross on the right, directed a header at home goalkeeper Ross Doohan. And, as the interval approached, MacDonald swapped flanks to send over a free-kick eventually to find Chris Hussey, who volleyed high and wide.
HALF-TIME: Tranmere 0, County 0.
Kicking towards a vociferous, sold-out away end after the break, County earned three corners in quick succession within the opening half a dozen minutes of the new half – before Ethan Bristow sent a deflected effort into the arms of Hinchliffe.
The end-to-end fare continued, with Wootton heading down to Myles Hippolyte, who fired over on the turn; Josh Dacres-Cogley cutting in from the right to curl a shot beyond the far post; and Bristow, on the left, drilling a low delivery across the County six-yard box.
As attacking moves towards each end were fashioned and then broken up, the Hatters brought on Ollie Crankshaw and Antoni Sarcevic by way of additional support behind the strike-force. But the next, and hitherto best, chance fell to the hosts, as Hinchliffe parried away both Bristow’s cross from the left, and a follow-up attempt by newly-introduced substitute, Paul Lewis.
Bristow, continuing to have the run of the left flank, crossed for Kieron Morris to head beyond the near upright. And, at the other end, a well-timed challenge by Kyle Jameson stopped Collar in his tracks as he headed through on goal, before Jordan Turnbull deflected Ryan Croasdale’s low shot past the left post.
A corner was earned by each side in added time, but neither led to a breaking of the deadlock – with County remaining in 14th place, but now four league matches unbeaten without conceding.
FULL-TIME: Tranmere 0, County 0.
Team (3-5-2): Hinchliffe; Wright, Horsfall, Hussey; Brown (Crankshaw, 72), Collar, Croasdale, Hippolyte, MacDonald (Sarcevic, 72); Wootton, Madden (Capt.) (Camps, 86).
Unused Subs: Jones, Evans, R. Johnson, Jennings.
Attendance: 6,800 (1,735 away).
Reporter: Gareth Evans.
Photographer: Mike Petch.