More high than Lowe!
Date published: 03 March 2014
James Wesolowski lets flyto put Athletic in front. All pictures: ALAN HOWARTH
Tranmere 2, Athletic 2
ATHLETIC boss Lee Johnson was smiling after his side had the edge over a Tranmere side notoriously tough to beat on their own patch.
The visitors may have been pegged back by a trademark clinical finish from veteran striker Ryan Lowe with 15 minutes to go, but the frustration following the midweek Boundary Park loss to Milton Keynes was shaken off.
The visitors were bright and breezy from the off in Birkenhead as almost 800 travelling fans roared them on from behind the goal - on a day when they would perhaps have marched to a victory had Rovers not got lucky twice shortly before the half hour..
Granted, Rovers enjoyed the better of the latter stages and went close to snatching what would have been a win, but Johnson will take plenty of encouragement as his young side continues to battle its way towards a top-half finish in the division.
Athletic had a real spring in their step from the start, and after Philliskirk had already seen a deflected shot saved by Welsh international stopper Owain fon Williams, they roared into the lead after 12 minutes. Wesolowski played a one-two with Gary Harkins before taking a step and blasting an angled drive from just inside the box.
Harkins headed over and then as Athletic pushed on towards what could have been a potentially match-clinching second goal, a huge penalty appeal was waved away.
Danny Holmes clearly shoved Philliskirk in the back as he charged into the Tranmere box, but referee Breakspear emphatically turned down the appeal.
Minutes later Rovers got lucky again as they equalised, courtesy of a freak strike which probably ought to have been called an own goal.
Lowe teed up Jason Koumas, who fired in a low drive. The ball struck Grounds' foot and looped over Mark Oxley and into the net.
That appeared to knock the stuffing out of Athletic and it remained 1-1 until half-time, but Johnson's men were out early for the second half and deservedly went back in front just before the hour.
This time Athletic's luck was in. Worrall sneaked down the right and crossed in low from the bye-line, and as Ash Taylor tried to clear, the ball struck team-mate Liam Ridehalgh and trickled back in the opposite direction and into the goal.
Philliskirk went close to making it 3-1, but it was 35-year-old Lowe who was to have the final word, perfectly placing a header past Oxley from Jake Cassidy's cross..