Tranmere Rovers will contest the Sky Bet League Two Play-Off final against Newport County at Wembley on Saturday 25th May after James Norwood’s first-half strike overcame Forest Green Rovers on aggregate away at the New Lawn after a 1-1 draw in the second-leg on the night.
Forest Green captain Joseph Mills headed Mark Cooper’s home side in front in the opening 12 minutes before James Norwood drew Tranmere level on the night, his 32ndgoal of the season, with a well-taken volley midway through the first-half.
TRFC remained strong to earn a Wembley return which sees them 90 minutes away from a third-tier return and a back-to-back promotion.
Tranmere found themselves behind early on in Gloucestershire with 12 minutes played as Mills met Junior Mondal’s free-kick from the right to guide his close-range header beyond Scott Davies.
Searching for a response, Tranmere midfielder Ollie Banks sent his effort straight in to the grasp of home goalkeeper Lewis Ward.
Micky Mellon’s men equalised through their top-scorer, forward Norwood on 26 minutes to go ahead on aggregate in the tie.
Against his former club, Norwood reacted quickest inside the box after Kieron Morris’ headed down a floated pass from David Perkins, driving a right-footed volley low across goal which found the bottom left-corner to beat the outstretched arm of Ward and silence the home support.
At the other end, Davies was there to hold on well after Dayle Grubb cut inside from the left to angle a shot straight at the TRFC skipper in goal.
As the first-half entered its closing stages, Tranmere remained resilient to thwart the home attacks, with left-back Liam Ridehalgh doing well to prevent Christian Doidge from turning in a cross at the back post.
Following on from the restart, a 40-yard free-kick from substitute George Williams was the first sight of goal, with the strike failing to hit the target or test Davies.
Meanwhile, after his endeavour won back possession 10-yards out, TRFC midfielder Connor Jennings manoeuvred space for himself but saw his shot charged down.
Davies had to be alert for the Birkenhead outfit on the hour, thwarting Doidge after Liam Shephard had looped a cross in to the six-yard box from the left.
Midfielder Morris later let fly from range, seeing his dipping drive swerve just over the crossbar before a key turning point in the clash occured.
Forest Green were reduced to 10 men with Winchester receiving his marching orders for a second bookable offence for bringing down Norwood in the middle of the home side’s half.
Reece Brown then saw his deflected attempt from outside the box well dealt with by Davies.
Tranmere looked to seal it with chances at goal in the final 10 minutes, with Jennings testing Ward before Norwood cut inside to bend his strike just past the far post.
TRFC held on comfortably to book a third trip to Wembley in three years, with Newport County the opponents for a place in Sky Bet League One as the Super White Army celebrated at New Lawn.
Ticket details for the final will be announced soon.
TRFC: Davies, Caprice, Nelson, Monthe, Ridehalgh, Harris, Banks, Perkins, Morris (Gilmour 65) Jennings, Norwood
Unused subs: Pilling, Buxton, McNulty, Mullin, Smith, Dagnall
Attendance: 4,492 (1,188 visiting supporters)