Tranmere Rovers U18s were undone by a dominant second half display from Accrington Stanley U18s to exit the FA Youth Cup in the first round.
A Charlie Ridge free kick between a Harry Perrit brace was the difference to defeat the hosts, who had Nick Long sent off for a professional foul on the 76th minute.
The first half saw both teams cancel each other out for large periods however there was still chances throughout. The first chance of the game came from good work down the left from George Nugent who cut the ball back for Carl Spellman to strike first time, but his effort was well charged down by the Accrington defence.
At the other end, Stanley’s CharlieRidge played Alex O’Neil through in the area but his left footed shot was well blocked by Rovers' captain Nick Long. The corner resulted in an early chance for the visitors as the ball was headed on by several players in the box before dropping to O’Neil six yards out, but Rovers keeper Bayleigh Passant showed excellent reflexes to instinctively tip the effort over the bar as it headed towards the roof of the net.
A deep free kick from Danny Walker-Rice almost lead to an opening when skipper Long connected with the driven ball to head on towards Spellman, but the ball bounced awkwardly allowing the keeper Toby Savin to collect before Spellman could pounce.
Half an hour in and Passant was called into action again as O’Neil cut the ball back into the box from the right for left back Jack Bolton hit on the run, but the Rovers keeper did well to get his body behind the powerful effort.
It wasn’t until the 38th minute that a real clear cut opportunity came about . Centre back Jack Evans’ low clearance was missed by everyone in white and sent O'Neil through with just the keeper to beat. The striker had time to take a couple of touches before firing across Passant’s goal but his eventual effort was placed wide of the far post.
Walker-Rice had the first chance of the second half with a free kick from around 30yards, though his curling effort went just past the post to the keepers left.
Despite Rovers starting the second half the brighter of the two teams, it was Stanley who took the lead. An out swinging corner from the right was initially cleared before being headed back into the danger area for Harry Perrit to collect. With his back to goal, Perrit flicked the ball over his head before turning and firing a half volley into the bottom left corner of the net.
The visitors had been a danger from set pieces all evening and almost doubled their lead five minutes later from another corner, though O’Neil’s header was well saved by Passant, who parried it up before catching it at the second attempt.
Rovers almost equalised when Jake Burton played in Spellman on the left of the box but his left footed shot was saved well by Savin, who held onto the ball.
A minute later, Stanley doubled their lead. Rovers captain Nick Long was dismissed as the last man for pulling down a Stanley attacker. The resulting 22 yard free kick was fired in by CharlieRidge after it was rolled to him from Perrit, despite Passant getting a hand on it.
Two minutes later the tie was all but over as Perrit converted a penalty awarded for a foul on substitute Gabe Ellis.
The final few minutes died down with the tie over, however there was still time to give under 16’s Michael Quinn and Ethan Gouldbourne a run out.
Team: Passant, Kerr, Hayde, Long (Capt.), Sinnott, Burton (85 Musuamba), Blackham (85 Gouldbourne), Spellman, Walker-Rice, Nugent (89 Quinn) Thompson NOT USED: Bickerstaffe, Shead
By Jake Mathot