‘DARKEST DAY’ INSISTS PALIOS
OWNER Mark Palios spoke of his devastation as Tranmere’s 94-year Football League existence came to an emotional end at promotion-chasing Plymouth.
Max Power threw Rovers a lifeline when he cancelled out Reuben Reid’s seventh-minute opener with a stunning finish.
But Tareiq Holmes-Dennis and Lewis Alessandra struck after the break to sentence Tranmere to the drop – and virtually guarantee Plymouth a place in the play-offs.
Five defeats on the spin sealed Rovers’ fate, leaving 550 away supporters and the Tranmere players choking back tears as relegation was confirmed.
While Palios concedes Tranmere’s demotion to Non-League football is a dark day for the club, he insists they will come back fighting next season.
He said: “It feels devastating. Today, our worst fears have been realised. This is my worst day in football. If any of the fans are angry, in a way that is good because they care.
“The thing that will kill this club is apathy and there is no apathy at Tranmere Football Club.
“There is a question that the players didn’t want it enough, but I don’t agree with that.
“It is the hope that kills you, but now we have to deal with the reality. It is how we react now.
“We have done a lot of things off the park and that will stand us in good stead for the future.
“It obviously feels terrible at the moment, but it is not disastrous because we will come back.
“The Conference is a good league and not easy to get out of. But, if you get it right off the park, that will translate to on the park. That is what we have to do.”
Tranmere got off to a terrible start when referee Gavin Ward gave Plymouth a dubious penalty after ruling Power had tripped Dominic Blizzard.
Reid made no mistake from the spot, sending Owain Fon Williams the wrong way for his 20th goal of the season.
Some of Tranmere’s football belied their perilous league position and Power handed them a deserved equaliser after letting fly from the edge of the box.
With news that Hartlepool were beating Exeter filtering through, Rovers knew they had to claim all three points to take their survival battle to the final day.
But, when Holmes-Dennis netted his first professional goal with a blistering 25-yard strike, their drop fears deepened.
Alessandra hammed the final nail in the coffin with a close-range finish and Kayode Odejayi’s late goal was merely a consolation.
The win puts Plymouth in pole position to claim a play-off place as they boast a three-point cushion – and an eight-goal swing – over nearest challengers Luton.
Pilgrims boss John Sheridan said: “I’m really pleased for the players, and I’m chuffed for the supporters as well.
“It just gives them a bit more belief, and we’re a bit closer to achieving something.
“With all the frustration we’ve had, we’ve still got a chance of getting out of the division.
“I’m not bothered who we play in the play-offs.”
STAR MAN LEWIS ALESSA
th RIP-ROARING: Plymouth’s Tareiq Holmes-Dennis takes the applause after his goal