Tranmere manager Micky Mellon saluted his side’s spirit and desire after they hit back to deservedly earn a 1-1 home draw against Southend.
Rovers substitute Paul Mullin fired home the leveller from the penalty spot with just five minutes left after Tom Hopper had given the Shrimpers an early lead at Prenton Park.
Mellon said: “I was disappointed with the performance in the first half. It was Southend who were dictating the tempo and our players seemed to find it difficult to meet that.
“We gave away a really poor goal too, but I’m not here to make excuses for that.
“In the second half it was us that upped the tempo and while it wasn’t brilliant, we got lots more balls into the box and securing loads of corners.
“We needed to make more of all those corners, but it didn’t happen for us until late in the game.
“It was looking like it was going to be a frustrating night for us, but huge credit to the lads for eventually getting something from the game.
“All the players showed spirit and desire. They kept going throughout and never stopped battling away.
“I suppose the only thing that beat us in the end was time.”
The Shrimpers struck early when Hopper – on his first start in almost a year – clipped an effort neatly over goalkeeper Scott Davies.
An unmarked Timothee Dieng then planted a header wide from six yards out as the visitors searched for a second.
Rovers’ almost drew level just before the break when Corey Blackett-Taylor swept an angled strike just over the top.
Rovers’ Neil Danns also saw a curling shot cleared off the line by Joe Shaughnessy, before Mullin’s late penalty leveller.
Southend caretaker boss Gary Waddock admitted it felt like two valuable points had slipped away as the struggling Shrimpers continue to search for a new manager and just a second win of the season.
Waddock said: “It does feel like we’ve lost two points as we had a number of chances to make the game safe after our early goal.
“We just weren’t clinical enough. Our play overall deserved more than just the one goal.
“Unfortunately we didn’t take our chances and we’ve been punished in the end.
“It didn’t look like a penalty to me at the end.
“Let’s just say their lad has done well to win it, and that’s left us all disappointed.”
Waddock was at least happy for Hopper, who notched in his first start for almost 12 months after recovering from a serious knee injury.
Waddock added: “I was absolutely delighted for Tom.
“He’s been out for a long time with his injury, and he deserved that goal.
“He took it brilliantly, certainly not like a player who’s been out of the game for so long.
“What a great way to score. He’s worked so hard to get back in the fray, and hopefully he can hit the ground running again now.”