DONCASTER Rovers edged nearer an instant return to the Championship with a winning goal from their inspirational skipper Rob Jones.
Following a tentative opening, the hosts registered the first attempt on goal when Jones headed Griffin’s high and hopeful cross straight into the arms of Fon Williams.
It took until the tenth minute for Tranmere to show their first signs of life.
Bagayoko’s cross from the left bounced awkwardly off the Keepmoat’s rock solid surface but Gary Woods plucked it out of the air with Bell-Baggie waiting to pounce.
Doncaster responded immediately. Good hold up play from in-form frontman Brown teed up Cotterill on the edge of the area but his goal bound effort was blocked by Taylor.
And then came the best move of the game. Furman released Coppinger with a lovely ball over the top, he picked out Bennett in the box who twisted and turned but his shot was deflected wide.
Cotterill then let fly from distance as Rovers tried to up the ante but his effort went sailing wide of the goalkeeper’s left-hand upright.
The home side had settled into the game better. They were dictating the tempo, and notably coping better with the surface, but were struggling to create any clear cut openings as the game reached the half hour mark.
At that point the visitors enjoyed their best little spell. Jones first of all conceded a soft corner and then Cotterill an even softer free kick in dangerous territory, but neither set piece came to anything.
Furman, who had not seen as much of the ball as Rovers would have liked, then leaned back as his shot from distance sailed wide at the other end.
With the half petering out, Tranmere came closest to an opening goal. Another free kick given away in a dangerous area resulted in Akpa Akpro heading Robinson’s inswinging delivery inches wide.
Moments later Cotterill found space and tried his luck from distance but again his effort was just off target.
Doncaster had Tranmere at arm’s length, and you got the feeling that Flynn’s men had more in their locker.
However, the visitors fired an early warning shot that they were not prepared to settle for a point. Akpa Akpro chested down a left-wing cross but, with more time than he thought, fired his left-foot volley wide.
A man in a Mr Blobby outfit was conducting the vocal travelling fans but on the pitch both sides lacked a bit of fluency and rhythm as a somewhat scrappy contest continued from where it had left off at the break.
Brown thought he had picked out Furman with a slide-rule pass but the flag went up against the South African international, before Cotterill found himself in a similar position but wasted the chance to get a shot away.
With Brown off the field receiving treatment, Rovers broke the deadlock in typical style - from a Cotterill set piece.
And it was a case of cometh the hour, cometh the Corporal. Cotterill’s hanging left-wing cross was headed down by McCombe and JONES was on hand to smash a left-foot finish into the roof of the net.
Even level-headed Jones got slightly carried away in his celebration before he was jumped upon by almost the entire team.
Rovers knew the importance of this goal, rather out of the blue they suddenly had something to hold onto.
Substitute Paynter, on for Bennett, almost doubled the advantage on 70 minutes when he got on the end of another Cotterill cross but his downward header lacked power and direction.
It was a bold move by Flynn fetching Paytner on. He led the line, with the hard-working Brown dropping slightly deeper, as Rovers attempted to see out this game by remaining on the front foot.
Naturally the home side started to drop deeper as the clock ticked towards 90, while the visitors threw more bodies forward.
Griffin had to be alert to head a long throw away at the back post, following a flick on, with Bakayogo lurking - but that was the closest Tranmere came to an equaliser as Doncaster took another giant step towards the Championship.