A first half goal from Michail Antonio gave Nottingham Forest a 1-0 win over Tranmere in the Capital One Cup first round at Prenton Park.
But it was a much improved performance from Rovers who put in a spirited display against the Championship side, hitting the woodwork through Danny Woodards in the second half.
Rob Edwards made five changes to the side that started four days earlier against York. Matt Gill and Matt Hill made their debuts for the Club while Kayode Odejayi, Abdulai Baggie and James Rowe all started, with Max Power, Jake Kirby, Cole Stockton, Marc Laird and the injured Marcus Holness dropping out.
Owain Fon Williams dived to his left to keep out a long range strike from Michail Antonio inside the first minute as the visitors started brightly but Rovers responded well, with Gill and Rowe doing well to win possession from the opposition and Jason Koumas involved deep in the Forest half.
However, Stuart Pearce's side took the lead on 11 minutes. A cross from the right from Chris Burke reached Antonio at the back post and though Fon Williams got a hand to his header, he was unable to keep the ball out of the net.
Danny Woodards rose above his marker on 17 minutes but his glancing header went over the bar, while Antonio almost added his second on 19 minutes but his close range looping header hit the bar before being cleared by Danny Holmes.
Michael Ihiekwe flashed a header across goal and wide from a Koumas cross on 24 minutes and Holmes drilled a volley towards goal from 20 yards four minutes which was spilled by Karl Darlow but landed away from danger.
A 20-yard free kick was fired over the Tranmere bar by Danny Fox on 35 minutes, the final chance of the half.
The visitors were reduced to ten men seven minutes into the second half after Michael Mancienne was shown his second yellow card of the game for a foul on Koumas.
With the numerical advantage Rovers began to press Forest and came inches from an equaliser on 63 minutes when Woodards powered a back post header against the post from Gill's outswinging cross.
Gerardo Bruna came on for his Tranmere debut in place of Baggie on 73 minutes and created a chance soon after with a clever pass to Rowe whose 25 yard shot was blocked.
Richards shot narrowly wide of the right hand post from Bruna's pass on 78 minutes with Stockton replacing Rowe moments later.
Assombalonga fired past the near post from 20 yards on 82 minutes, a minute before Edwards made his final substitution with Power coming on for Gill in midfield.
Power ran through the Forest half and shot wide from 30 yards on 85 minutes while Stockton and Koumas missed from similar distances soon after.
Bruna played the ball to Stockton on the edge of the area in the first of five minutes of added time and the striker's shot on the turn had to be saved by Darlow, Rovers' final effort of the game.
Tranmere: Fon Williams, Holmes, Ihiekwe, Woodards, Hill, Baggie (Bruna 73), Gill (Power 83), Rowe (Stockton 78), Koumas, Richards, Odejayi. Substitutes: Ramsbottom, McDonald, Gumbs, Laird, Power.
Nottingham Forest: Darlow, Lichaj (Grant 88), Harding, Mancienne, Assombalonga, Fox, Antonio (McLaughlin 80), Paterson (Hunt 56), Hobbs, Burke, Osborn. Substitutes: Collins, Fryatt, Veldwijk, Evtimov.
Referee: David Webb
Yellow cards: Osborn (26), Hobbs (32), Mancienne (44)
Red card: Mancienne (52)