Ian Dawes pleased to see new system pay-off with Otis Khan winner for Tranmere
Tranmere caretaker boss Ian Dawes was delighted after a new system secured a first away win of the Sky Bet League Two season at Harrogate
Substitute Otis Khan’s 79th-minute strike earned Rovers a deserved 1-0 victory after former Bangor City manager and Liverpool coach Dawes, placed in temporary charge with Andy Parkinson following Michael Jackson’s dismissal, switched to a diamond formation for the Wetherby Road contest.
Dawes said: “From start to finish we worked hard on and off the ball.
“The way results have gone and, with the manager going on Saturday, we knew it would be tough, but the players kept going and got better and better as the game went on.
“We tried a new system and it was never going to be perfect, but there were good signs and flashes of quality in the first half and more in the second.
“They cross the ball, run hard and play for set-plays and had a lot of them, but the whole team stayed strong and we know we have players who can come on after 60 or 70 minutes and win us a game.
“I’m delighted for Otis that he did that.”
Harrogate had the better of the first half without really calling away goalkeeper Scott Davies into action.
James Vaughan was required, however, to head the ball off the line from an inswinging George Thomson corner – one of nine won by the home team in the first half.
Former Everton striker Vaughan should have gone on to open the scoring in first-half stoppage time, but shot against an upright with only home keeper James Belshaw to beat.
Khan went on to secure the points just four minutes after entering the fray.
The former Yeovil winger calmly sidefooted in from 10 yards after a low left-wing cross from Liam Feeney had struck team-mate Paul Lewis and fallen fortuitously into his path.
Harrogate boss Simon Weaver was left to reflect on a fourth match without victory, although his chief concern was the wellbeing of centre-back Will Smith after he was carried off on a stretcher and taken to hospital following 10 minutes of on-pitch treatment.
Weaver said: “I don’t know too much about the injury. I just know that Will took a really bad, nasty knock to his head and neck and it was awful to see.
“His dad is on his way to see him in hospital thankfully and we just hope he’s OK. Nobody wants to see something like that, whether it’s one of your own players or one of the opposition.
“Our thoughts are with him and he did look in a bit better shape before he went to hospital. He raised a smile, which was encouraging and good to see.”
On his team’s shot-shy performance, meanwhile, Weaver added: “There was no swearing in the changing room afterwards, but we just had a rational talk about our strikers not scoring enough goals. I need to see more danger from them and more shots getting away.”