Exeter City's unbeaten run came to an abrupt end as they were pulled further into the relegation dogfight with a 3-1 away defeat at Prenton Park.
James Dunne's first half red card was the turning point of the match, the former Arsenal man picking up a harsh second yellow.
Goals from Craig Curran's and Joss Labadie put the home side 2-0 up before Stuart Fleetwood gave the Grecians a life-line when he poked home from close range.
But from a City corner Tranmere countered and Gareth Edds fired a low shot past Jones to complete a miserable afternoon.
Paul Tisdale made one change from the team denied at the death at Swindon with Marcus Stewart coming in for Sky Sports' Man Of The Match Ryan Taylor. Rob Edwards returned to the bench and replaced Joe Heath.
Craig Curran was an injury doubt ahead of the match for Les Parry's side but he was deemed fit to start and he carved out the first chance of the match on three minutes but Scott Golbourne deflected the shot over the bar.
From the subsequent corner centre-back Ash Taylor headed over into the impressive number of away fans boosting the 5466 crowd.
Just two minutes later Bas Savage headed Marlon Broomes' cross over while at the other end Stewart sent Barry Corr down the left-hand flank but his low cross was held by debutant Peter Gulacsi .
The first half this afternoon was a shadow of the opening 45 at the County Ground, the Grecians never really got going and weren't creating any real openings.
Stewart and Corr were getting little change from Taylor and Ian Goodison but mid-way through the half Dunne did have the ball in the back of the net with a smart lob but the linesman's flag ruled it out for offside.
Then the Grecians strung together one of their best moves of the half, Liam Sercombe and Dunne combined before feeding Tully and his cross found Scott Golbourne at the back-post but his driven volley deflected off a City body and out for a goal kick.
Then we reached the main talking point of the match. Dunne had earlier been booked for a foul on Labadie outside the Tranmere box but he looked to have pulled out of another challenge on the midfielder and just got the slightest of touches. But the referee pulled out the second yellow and City faced an uphill task.
The City bench were on their feet four minutes later when the referee Geoff Elthirngham chose to only yellow card Goodison for an ugly foul on Barry Corr.
Then the home side took the lead when Zoumana Bakayogo's cross from the left flank was met by the head of Curran inside the box.
Stewart then limped off just before the break for Ryan Taylor after suffering a spasm in his hamstring. His replacement once again looked lively and was full of running.
City came out with their half-time teamtalk ringing in their ears and began to look more effective in the final third, Corr heading straight at the keeper just two minutes into the second half.
At the other end Bas Savage rose and sent his header wide of the far post before missing from close range.
Jones almost handed them a second ten minutes into the second half when he scuffed a clearance straight to Curran but his attempt flew out for a throw in with Jones stranded.
But a similar sitation happened just two minutes later and it proved to be fatal. Jones ran out and bowled the ball to Tully, as the number 27 does to start many an attack but the right-back lost the ball to Labadie who fired a long range shot into the far corner from distance with Jones off his line.
The goal had been coming and Tisdale responded by sending Bertie Cozic for Richard Duffy who had moved to a defensive midfield position.
The away fans were getting more and more aggravated with Elthirngham's performance and they let him know how they felt when he didn't give an obvious corner that Ryan Taylor had earned infront of them.
Serconbe shot a long-range effort at the keeper but at the other end City were looking fragile from every attack with Curran having a chance and he also set up Thomas-Moore who couldn't beat Jones.
The introduction of Fleetwood for Tully, who had only trained briefly since the Swindon game due to injury, gave City even more options going forward in search for a comeback like the one seen at Wycombe.
The chances weren't coming and in fact substitute Kithson Bain was only denied a goal by a superb full-stretch block from Tully.
But then City pulled a goal back when Fleetwood claimed his fifth of the season. Golbourne's cross was knocked into the Welshman's path by Goodison and he had the simplest of tap-ins from close-range.
The Grecians were back in the game and the pressure began to mount with just five minutes left. City threw bodies forward and won a corner from Golbourne's cross.
Everyone packed the box but Goodison headed the ball away and they countered at pace. Bain burnt away from Sercombe and sent the ball towards Thomas-Moore, he dummied and Edds fired home into the corner.
Thomas-Moore then forced Jones into a fine save and Sercombe fired a lovely shot with the outside of the boot just inches over the bar but that was all City could muster before the final whistle blew on a disappointing afternoon.
City fans will be hoping Brentford can beat Parry's side on Tuesday night ahead of the visit of Charlton to The Park on Saturday.Share