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Match Reports

Report: Tranmere Rovers 4-2 Ebbsfleet United (AET)

5 May 2018

Play-off semi-final success at Prenton Park

Tranmere Rovers are 90 minutes away from a place back in the Football League following an extraordinary game at Prenton Park.

The last time these sides met, Rovers ran out 3-0 winners but, given the circumstances, it was expected to be a much closer contest and this was the case.

The first half was a tense 45 minutes where Ebbsfleet proved they were no pushovers. Following a couple of half chances giving the fans some encouragement, the visitors took a surprise lead when Luke Coulson latched onto a cross to loop a perfectly placed header past Scott Davies.

Rovers pressed for their equaliser, however, in doing so were almost caught out at the back when Corey Whitely found space on the right of the area and fired a volley across goal and just wide, before Danny Kedwell almost scored with an inventive scorpion effort which went just wide of the opposite post.

Rovers had a great chance of their own with a series of shots in quick succession which were blocked in the area before Andy Cook fired over. Then, just after the half hour mark, Rovers found their leveller when James Norwood drilled an effort left footed into the bottom right hand corner of Ashmore's goal.

Rovers regained the front foot with Ginnelly shooting low through a crowd of players causing Ashmore to make a good reaction stop.

However, despite the home sides ascendency they were still susceptible to being caught out defensively and soon after half time they were 2-1 behind. A mix up in communication between keeper Scott Davies and Ritchie Sutton resulted in the ball ricocheting into Ebbsfleet substitute Myles Weston's path and he stroked the ball into an empty net.

It didn't take long for Tranmere to respond though, as 5 minutes after the visitors went in front, Josh Ginnelly did exceptionally well to outmuscle his way through two defenders before letting fly from almost 25 yards and the ball nestled into the corner.

Ollie Norburn almost put Rovers in front for the first time when put through by James Norwood but Ashmore did well to smother the ball at his feet. Andy Cook also had a couple of chances to score, heading just wide from a corner before almost latching onto the rebound of a well saved Norwood effort, but for a fantastic goal line clearance from Ebbsfleet skipper Dave Winfield.

The game went into extra time and James Norwood had the half's first chance when he released a ferocious effort which just went past the top right corner. 3 minutes later, though, Norwood found that exact corner, with a fantastically struck free kick from about 25 yards.

Seconds after the restart, Larnell Cole hit a beautiful, curling effort into the top left of Ashmore's goal from 20 yards before a ruckus ensued in the Ebbsfleet penalty area, following a challenge on Jay Harris by Dave Winfield, for which the visitor's skipper was sent off.

Norwood had the last big chance in an enthralling match as he turned magnificently beating two players and going through on goal but he was denied by a great last ditch tackle.

A real advertisement to the game for neutral as both teams gave their all, but it is Rovers who now await their opponents for next Saturday's trip to Wembley where they will play for a return to League 2.

Tranmere Rovers: Davies, Buxton (Monthe 81), Ridehalgh, Sutton, McNulty, Cook, Norwood, Norburn, Ginnelly (Harris 95), Hughes, Cole. Subs: Taylor, Mangan, Dunn.

Ebbsfleet United: Ashmore, Connors, Rance, Winfield, Clarke, Powell, Drury, Kedwell, Coulson, Wilson, Whitely. Subs: McCoy, Weston, Miles, Wabo, Bush.

Attendance: 8898 (348)


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