Tranmere Rovers exited the Carabao Cup with a two-goal defeat to Leicester City on Tuesday evening despite a battling performance.
Joe Murphy started for Rovers an incredible 23 years after facing the Foxes in the 2000 Final of the same competition with Tranmere.
Leicester had the first chance of the game, Harry Winks firing wide of Murphy’s goal from 25 yards out.
Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall also saw an effort drift wide early on, this time from the edge of the box, but Murphy wasn’t troubled.
Cesare Casadei sent a threatening ball across goal 17 minutes into the contest, but it was well turned behind by Jordan Turnbull.
Leicester were content to move the ball around in the first half waiting for gaps, but the Rovers defence stood firm and showed few for them to capitalise on.
A smart one-two almost saw Kieron Morris and Josh Hawkes find a gap in the visitors’ defence before Dan Pike struck from range, stinging the palms of Jakub Stolarczyk in the Leicester goal.
Leicester had another chance of their own ten minutes from the break when Casadei nodded a Marc Albrighton corner narrowly over the bar.
The Foxes rang the changes at half time as Ricardo Pereira, Wilfred Ndidi, Yunus Akgun, and Wanya Marcal replaced Dewsbury-Hall, Winks, Albrighton, and Stephy Mavididi.
Hawkes almost put Jennings through on goal six minutes into the second period, but Wout Faes got in to make a crucial block.
Morris forced Stolarczyk into a low save shortly after, but after a great spell from Rovers, Leicester equalised through Wilfred Ndidi as the Nigerian’s low shot across goal went in off the post.
Five minutes later, Jamie Vardy nodded in a cross to double the Foxes’ lead.
Dan Pike put in some great work on debut at left-back, and sent in a cross on 68 minutes which Sam Taylor almost headed towards goal but couldn’t quite get to.
Kane Hemmings and Charlie Jolley entered the fray 8 minutes later in place of Kieron Morris and Sam Taylor.
Vardy was then almost sent behind the defence on one of his trademark runs, but Murphy was out quickly to pounce on the ball.
Shortly after, Vardy engaged Murphy and squared the ball to Akgun who looked to tap into an open net before Turnbull made a vital challenge to prevent a Leicester third.
Ndidi then forced Murphy into another save before Chris Merrie slid in well to clear the danger.
Kristian Dennis replaced Regan Hendry for the final minutes as Rovers pushed to grab a goal back, but ultimately exited the Carabao Cup despite a spirited performance.
Tranmere Rovers: Joe Murphy, Joe Yarney, Tom Davies (C), Jordan Turnbull, Dan Pike, Chris Merrie, Regan Hendry (Dennis, 84), Kieron Morris (Hemmings, 76), Josh Hawkes (McAlear, 86), Sam Taylor (Jolley, 76), Connor Jennings.
Subs: Luke McGee, Brad Walker, Kane Hemmings, Charlie Jolley, Kristian Dennis, Rhys Hughes, Paul Lewis, Reece McAlear, Mikey Davies.
Leicester City: Jakub Stolarczyk, James Justin (Nelson, 82), Wout Faes, Callum Doyle, Cesare Casadei, Harry Winks (Ndidi, 46), Jamie Vardy (C), Stephy Mavididi (Marcal, 46), Marc Albrighton (Akgun, 46), Hamza Choudhury, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall (Pereira, 46).
Subs: Danny Ward, Kelechi Iheanacho, Ricardo Pereira, Jannik Vestergaard, Wilfred Ndidi, Yunus Akgun, Mads Hermansen, Wanya Marcal, Ben Nelson.