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Match Reports

Tranmere Rovers 3-2 Manchester United U21s

4 December 2019

Corey Blackett-Taylor’s second-half goal ensured that Tranmere Rovers progressed to the Leasing.com Trophy third-round after beating Manchester United U21s 3-2 at Prenton Park on Wednesday night.

In a frantic first-half, Rovers scored twice through Rushian Hepburn-Murphy and captain Connor Jennings, either side of Tahith Chong’s double for the visitors.

Substitute Blackett-Taylor edged Rovers ahead nine minutes after the break with a first-time shot.

Ayodeji Sotona was sent off by referee Ross Joyce for pushing Sid Nelson during 15 minutes of added time.

Manager Micky Mellon made numerous changes to his starting line-up. Connor Jennings skippered a youthful side.

Rovers led inside 40 seconds of the tie through Hepburn-Murphy, who finished off a well-worked solo move to hit a right-footed low past goalkeeper Matej Kovar from inside the penalty area.

But United hit back after nine minutes of action, when midfielder Chong drove beyond Luke Pilling from 25-yards which found the bottom right-corner.

Up the other end, Hepburn-Murphy and Maddox both had speculative attempts at goal which did not trouble Czech Republic youth international Kovar.

Kovar was called into action shortly later by parrying away Jennings from long-range.

Neil Wood’s young Red Devils were ahead on the half-hour, courtesy of Chong netting his second as he guided his left-footed effort past Pilling and into the bottom right-corner, after holding off Nelson’s challenge on the edge of the box.  

Tranmere levelled after 40 minutes on the clock after Jennings volleyed from inside the box.

Rovers’ second-half began worryingly when goal scorer Hepburn-Murphy was taken off on a stretcher. Blackett-Taylor replaced the man on loan from Aston Villa.

And Blackett-Taylor made an immediate impact to put the hosts back in the driving seat.

Full-back Kane Wilson sent a neat pull-back to the feet of Blackett-Taylor, who was on hand to convert through a crowd of players and underneath Kovar to nestle into the bottom right-corner.

Attacking the Argyle Satellite Taxis Kop, Rovers looked to push their advantage, but Maddox’s free-kick just missed the head of George Ray.

As the final 25-minutes approached, Mellon looked to utilise experience to bring on midfielder Neil Danns, who replaced Carl Spellman.

Chasing a leveller, captain Angel Gomes curled his free-kick from the ‘D’ just over the crossbar.

There was a long stoppage in play as United’s Reece Devine was stretchered off with a head injury.

Netherlands U21 starlet Chong was causing TRFC’s defence issues, seeing a strike across goal turned behind for a corner.

From the resulting corner, D’Mani Mellor glanced a header just wide and into the side-netting.

Danny Walker-Rice fired a 20-yarder across the turf, which was deflected behind for a corner, as Tranmere aimed for a fourth.

Rovers had to withstand heavy pressure and 15 minutes of injury-time while Sotona was dismissed for United for pushing Nelson. 

Tranmere are back at Prenton Park on Saturday afternoon. Accrington Stanley visit the Wirral for a Sky Bet League One fixture, 3pm kick-off.

TRFC: Pilling, Woods (Ridehalgh 90+6) Nelson, Ray, Wilson, Maddox, Spellman (Danns 63), Walker-Rice, Jennings ©, Payne, Hepburn-Murphy (Blackett-Taylor 47)

Subs not used: Passant, Morris, Mullin, Ferrier

Attendance: 632


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