Tranmere Rovers forward James Norwood hailed Wembley Stadium match-winner Connor Jennings after Micky Mellon’s men secured a back-to-back promotion by beating 10-man Newport County in the Sky Bet League Two Play-Off Final.
Following on from a goalless full 90 minutes, in which referee Ross Joyce dismissed Exiles captain Mark O’Brien four a foul on Norwood late on, Rovers took full advantage in the closing moments of extra-time.
A well-worked move involving Lewis Buxton, Ben Pringle and Jake Caprice saw Caprice surge down the right to whip in a pinpoint cross for the unmarked Jennings, who powered his close-range header beyond goalkeeper Joe Day to make it two in a row for the Wirral outfit.
And Norwood reserved praise for match winner Jennings, whose heroics ensured third-tier football will return to Prenton Park for the first time since 2014 come August.
Norwood said: “It was very, very similar to last year, there was a lot of drama, it was a great all-round performance. Scott Davies made an incredible save and after what Connor has been through recently, what a moment for him, I think his Grandad was smiling down on him and he’s done him proud as punch.
“Conor has been our unsung hero this year and what a moment for him to give himself a headline.
“Penalties are never in your mind until the final whistle blows, we were creating chances, we had a chance in the 93rdminute which I just couldn’t get to, so while the clock was still ticking I knew that we could always get one more chance and Connor has got his head on the ball and it has just hit the back of the net.
“Connor’s work rate and what he does for the team, playing left midfield, right midfield and in the number 10, and he pops up with the goal, the winner in the Play-Off Final and I’m really happy for him.”
Norwood, 28, who ended the season with 32-goals in all competitions for TRFC, said that the squad always had belief in themselves to earn a second successive promotion.
Norwood continued: “Within the group, we had confidence in ourselves, we have players in the group who believe and can play higher and we’ve never had the opportunity to do and now the gaffer has given us that opportunity and we are a League One Club now.
“When they got a man sent off, all I felt was this is where we were last year and we had to be careful, we handled pretty much everything they threw at us and it was just about us getting that one chance and putting it away.
“It’s unbelievable, you don’t want to let people down who have supported you all season and travelled far and wide, it’s a special group of fans we have got, and you never want to let them down.”
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