MARK Hughes was left wondering if his City time was up after a costly defeat at Tranmere.

A dramatic night in Birkenhead ended with back-to-back losses for only the second time in his 20-month reign.

It was the 19th loss of his 70 league games at the helm but the fourth in 11 this season – and he now faces an anxious wait to find out if this was his swansong.

The away fans had clearly made up their mind, taunting “you’re getting sacked in the morning” as Hughes went across to clap them at the end.

Harry Lewis had handed Tranmere the opener before responding in the second half with a penalty save.

Andy Cook, his dependable goal machine, struck again to offer hope of a fightback.

But ultimately it was Tranmere who found a decisive second goal to seal their third win of the season – and leave Hughes potentially staring down the barrel.

He had made three changes from the weekend flop against Walsall – including a first start for Adam Wilson.

The winger replaced Rayhaan Tulloch, Daniel Oyegoke got another chance in central midfield in place of Alex Gilliead and Alex Pattison made a welcome return to the starting line-up in place of the injured Clarke Oduor.

The last time Hughes and Nigel Adkins, Tranmere’s interim boss, were in opposing dug-outs was back in November 2012 - in a game dubbed “el sackico” between the Premier League’s bottom two at the time, QPR and Southampton.

Adkins won 3-1 and Hughes was gone by the end of the week.

Eleven years on, the Welshman was battling to make sure history would not repeat itself against a home side who had lost eight of their 10 previous league outings.

Given City’s track record of firing bosses after losing to Oldham, the fact that the referee was Latics namesake Scott looked another unfortunate omen for the Bantams chief.

He will have been heartened by a chorus of “Mark Hughes’ Bradford army” from the away end that heralded the arrival of the teams.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Harry Lewis saves from Josh Hawkes' spot-kickHarry Lewis saves from Josh Hawkes' spot-kick (Image: Thomas Gadd)

And Hughes was almost greeted with an early goal as Wilson got on the ball for the first time and picked out Cook. He laid off to Jamie Walker who took aim with a looping effort that bounced back off the inside of the post and pinged back into play past relieved one-time City loan keeper Luke McGee.

There was another chance for the visitors soon after. Brad Halliday found Pattison on the right and his cross took a deflection which left McGee stretching to tip over the bar.

McGee was then called upon again to save at the feet of Walker after Kevin McDonald had threaded a through ball into the Tranmere box.

The home side had not offered anything before Harvey Saunders half-volleyed high into the away end from their first corner midway through the half.

But they then struck in the 24th minute with a goal that will haunt Lewis. The keeper appeared to get both hands to Regan Hendry’s 25-yard attempt but the shot slipped through his grasp and into the bottom corner.

City’s previous good work had been undone by a howler – and things quickly got worse when Pattison was forced off early.

They looked for a response and Liam Ridehalgh nearly opened his account for the club against his former employers. Then the full back’s cross picked out Cook but his header was straight at McGee.

Tulloch, who had replaced Pattison, put a weak shot at the keeper as Tranmere maintained their lead at the break – which produced some more boos from the frustrated City followers.

Tranmere began the second period with a flurry of corners as they tried to turn the screw.

But it was City who levelled on 55 minutes with Cook coming to the rescue once again. Wilson played a short corner to Halliday and he met the full back's cross with a thumping header that gave McGee no chance as it arrowed into the corner.

That transformed the mood and Walker “tried a Lee Novak” with an overhead kick that cleared the bar by inches.

There was more drama just after the hour as Lewis saved superbly from Connor Jennings – only for Harvey Saunders to be caught by a lunging challenge by McDonald from the rebound.

But Lewis redeemed himself again by guessing right to palm away the penalty from Josh Hawkes.

As tempers rose, Hughes was booked by the referee for complaining too vehemently about his decision, which had looked dubious.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Tranmere celebrate their opening goal in the first halfTranmere celebrate their opening goal in the first half (Image: Thomas Gadd)

It looked anyone’s game at that stage – but it was Tranmere who broke the stalemate with seven minutes to go.

Jennings opened up the City defence with a well-weighted pass as nobody closed him down and sub Kieron Morris slotted the shot beyond the diving Lewis.

The home fans were in party mood behind that goal as City – and Hughes – had to pick themselves off the floor again.

Wilson had one effort saved during seven minutes of stoppage time but there was no way back. The spotlight is now firmly on the beleaguered manager and what happens next.