Goals from Oscar Threlkeld and Liam Hogan sealed a win for visitors Salford City against Tranmere Rovers in the leasing.com Trophy at Prenton Park.
The defeat against Graham Alexander’s side means Rovers finish second in the group but still advance to the last 16 of the northern competition.
Manager Micky Mellon including Jacob Maddox into the starting line up for the first time. There was also a start for Morgan Ferrier, his first since his injury, likewise Darren Potter.
The visitors took an early lead as Threlkeld’s deflected strike went past the outstretched arm of Luke Pilling.
Tranmere’s first attack of the game just after the tenth minute, Corey Blackett Taylor, another player to return to the starting line up, weaved past the Salford defence but his effort was straight at Chris Neal.
Killer pass at the other end of the pitch by Emmanuel Dieseruvwe caught Rovers off guard, as Danny Whitehead was left at the back post with a free chance, but his effort was well saved by Luke Pilling.
Tranmere came close in the 26th minute, Connor Jennings picking up a pass from Blackett-Taylor but his low drive whistled past the post.
Moments later, Salford nearly doubled their lead when they had a 20-yard strike cannon back off the post, but a combination of Cameron Borthwick Jackson and Pilling cleared.
Chelsea loanee Maddox had the first chance of the second period, firing a thunderous effort from the edge of the box past the post.
Salford doubled their lead in the 56th minute as former Tranmere man Hogan was left unmarked at the back post to head home.
Looking for a way back into the contest, Tranmere’s Blackett-Taylor had an over head kick saved by Neal inside the penalty area.
With 16 minutes left, Keiron Morris and Rushian Hepburn Murphy came on for Maddox and Stefan Payne.
The final change for Tranmere came with eight minutes to play, Danny Walker-Rice coming on for Ferrier, as the striker got more minutes under his belt after injury.
However, Salford claimed the win and top spot in the group as Tranmere finished second and will play their knock-out round match next month away from home. The draw will take place on Sky Sports Soccer Saturday, 2pm.
Tranmere: Pilling, Caprice, Nelson, Ray, Borthwick-Jackson, Potter, Jennings, Maddox (Morris 74) Ferrier (Walker-Rice 82), Blackett-Taylor, Payne (Hepburn Murphy 74). Unused subs: Jones, Ridehalgh, Monthe, Wilson.