Harrogate Town couldn’t recover from a disastrous start to the second half, as they slipped to a 3-2 defeat in a bruising encounter at Prenton Park, Tranmere.
For Town, Warren Burrell returned from suspension to replace Jay Williams, who returned to the subs bench.
After some early forays from Rovers, Town began to take control.
A Burrell cross from the right was headed on by Brendan Kiernan, but Aaron Martin’s final header sailed wide of the upright.
Josh McPake was causing problems for the Rovers defence down the left, and he created a chance for George Thomson whose effort was smothered by the defence.
A Tranmere raid ended with James Belshaw having to make a diving save from Lloyd, but on 25 minutes, Town took the lead.
Kiernan found Thomson in midfield and he released McPake who cut in from the left and beat Scott Davies at the near post.
Sadly, Town’s lead lasted only nine minutes, when Burrell was ruled to have fouled Matty Monthe in the area and Referee Andy Haines awarded a disputed penalty.
James Vaughan duly dispatched the spot kick past Belshaw, but in the ensuing protest, Connor Hall was yellow carded which had repercussions for Town later in the game.
Two goals in two minutes at the start of the second half gave Town a mountain to climb.
On 51 minutes a corner was headed on by Peter Clarke and the unmarked Kalyne Woolery stroked the ball in at the far post.
Two minutes later, Vaughan scored his second when he rifled in another corner from close range.
On the hour, Simon Weaver replaced Muldoon and Kiernan with Josh March and Simon Power, but Town suffered another blow on 69 minutes when Hall illegally brought down a Tranmere player and was dismissed for a second bookable offence.
But Town’s ten men showed great fighting spirit and reduced the arrears, when March’s glancing header from Thomson’s free kick, flashed past Davies into the top corner.
The drama continued, with at the other end Belshaw producing a world-class save to keep out Vaughan’s diving header.
As the game entered stoppage time Town made one last effort with March shooting on the turn, but Davies made a vital block to prevent Town taking a point.
Belshaw,Falkingham,Burrell,Thomson,Martin,Lawlor,Kiernan(Power 60),Muldoon(March 60),Hall,Francis,McPake.
Scorers,McPake 25,March 72.
Booked Hall,Sent off Hall
Davies,Monthe,Spearing,Vaughan(Ray 93),Woolery(Morris 72),Khan,MacDonald,Feeney,(Ferrier 93),Lewis,Clarke,Lloyd(Ridehalgh73).
Referee A Haines
By John Harrison