Ten-man Brentford crashed to their heaviest opening day League defeat for forty-eight years in a game that was not short of controversy.
Striker Peter Beadle had a day to forget, creating an unwanted record by becoming the first Bees' player to be sent-off on his debut, for tangling with Gareth Roberts after just eleven minutes on the clock.
Wally Downes selected a 5-3-2 formation, with Michael Dobson and Andrew Frampton pushing up the field on either flank. Stephen Hunt took the position of striker with Kevin O'Connor
wide on the right.
In the sapping heat, it took until the sixteenth minute for Tranmere to carve out a decent opening, Ryan Taylor evaded the Bees defence to curl a shot narrowly wide of Paul Smith from the edge of the Bees' penalty area.
Taylor again tried his luck four minutes later from thirty yards, Paul Smith palming the ball away to safety. From the resulting corner, Tranmere took the lead. A left wing cross from Shane Nicholson resulted in Gary Jones' heading high above the Brentford defence to score from twelve yards out.
Paul Smith's reflexes again stopped a firm drive from Taylor just before the hour mark, but he had Gary Jones to thank for not doubling Tranmere's lead, the forward's right-foot shot hitting the crossbar as Smith had initially fumbled the corner cross. As Brentford sought some breathing space before the break, Ibrahima Sonko conceded a needless penalty in the thirty-ninth minute for a late challenge on Micky Mellon. Sonko was cautioned for the offence, but more importantly, Shane Nicholson sent Paul Smith the wrong way to double Rovers advantage.
Two goals down at half-time, Wally Downes made a switch; Jay Tabb replacing Andrew Frampton as the Bees reverted to four at the back, with O'Connor and Tabb the front-men. In the 53rd minute, Matt Somner's right foot cleared the danger in the six yard box with Jones sniffing his second of the game. A measure of Tranmere's dominance can be gained by the fact Jay Smith's run and shot in the fifty-ninth minute - saved by Achterberg - was The Bees first attempt on target in the game.
Two minutes later Graham Allen escaped with punishment despite hauling down Kevin O'Connor
just inches from the penalty area. Michael Dobson's direct free-kick forced Tranmere goalkeeper John Achterberg into a fine save.
However, Brentford were handed a lifeline in the 64th minute. Jay Tabb was bundled over by Achterberg inside the box - Stephen Hunt rammed home the resulting penalty to open his account for the season. Achterberg escaped lightly with a caution.
With twenty minutes remaining, Tranmere's Iain Hume should have put the game beyond Brentford's reach, but his connection to Simon Howarth's right-wing cross was off-target. Three minutes later, Referee Boyeson sensibly called a drinks break for both sets of players and officials, a decision that met with applause from the crowd.
The goal that killed the game off arrived in the seventy-fifth minute, Simon Howarth meeting Shane Nicholson's precision free-kick with accuracy for Rovers third. The Bees' misery was further compounded eight minutes from full-time, Referee Boyeson awarding another penalty against Brentford - this time Leo Roget the offender. Nicholson converted the spot-kick to end a depressing day in Birkenhead for Brentford.
Line-up: Smith (P), Dobson, Frampton, Somner, Roget (Fieldwick 86 mins), Sonko, Smith (J), Hutchinson (Peters 83 mins), O'Connor, Beadle, Hunt.
Subs not used: Julian and Hughes.