JAMES Norwood’s stoppage-time winner denied an improved York City a deserved point at National League title hopefuls Tranmere.

The former Forest Green forward pounced in the 93rd minute to head in the only goal of the game as City equalled a club record of 35 away games without a win.

But the Minstermen must take encouragement from a performance that saw them match their high-flying hosts for long periods.

City started the match in confident fashion, looking well-organised and dominating possession to the frustration of the Prenton Park faithful.

It took 22 minutes, though, for either side to muster a goal attempt with Matt Fry’s long ball out of defence leading to a lovely Jon Parkin lay-off that fellow midweek signing Rhys Murphy called home keeper Scott Davies into action from following a 20-yard drive.

That seemed to trigger Tranmere into action with Kyle Letheren diving low to his right to keep out Norwood’s header from an inswinging Jeff Hughes free kick moments later.

After Adriano Moke had gave the ball away in his own half, Yan Klukowski then took the sting out of a 25-yard Norwood effort, while Ritchie Sutton glanced wide from a close-range header after losing his marker Sean Newton to meet Hughes’ right-wing corner.

Letheren went on to make a routine save from Norwood’s looping header, before Fry rose tallest for the visitors but cleared the crossbar after Danny Holmes’ left-wing free kick.

In first-half stoppage time, meanwhile, Shaun Rooney survived strong shouts for a penalty after getting the wrong side of Ben Tollitt and appearing to drag the on-loan Portsmoth midfielder down.

After Alex Whittle saw a 25-yard chance deflected wide, Jake Kirby also cut in from the left flank and skied over at the other end.

City started the second-half brightest with Newton flashing a 30-yard shot just off target after exchanging passes with Parkin.

Having suffered a blow when Murphy was stretchered off with a suspected rib injury, Parkin’s audacious edge-of-the-box lob then forced a fingertip save from a backpedalling Davies.

Shortly afterwards, Parkin’s headed lay-off gave Holmes a decent sight of goal, but he sliced high and wide.

Tranmere’s greatest threat continued to come from set-pieces with Letheren gathering at the second attempt from sub Andy Cook’s downward header – his first touch of the game – following Hughes’ right-wing free kick.

Lee Vaughan, meanwhile, fired narrowly wide from distance and, at the other end, Parkin leaned back and lifted an edge-of-the-box effort over after good work by Robbie McDaid.

The hosts appeared to be running out of ideas with Kirby, Norwood and Tollitt all failing to trouble Letheren from range.

Jay Harris also shot wide from the edge of the penalty area but, just as City were closing in on their first away clean sheet for 15 months, Vaughan sent in a deep cross from the right and Norwood planted a firm downward header past Letheren from seven yards.

Skipper Heslop drilled over from 20 yards in response, before the final whistle signalled the end of another agonising afternoon for the Minstermen.