Tranmere Rovers were knocked out of the Papa John’s Trophy on Tuesday night, as Harrogate Town came from behind to progress to round three.
Rovers got out of the blocks quickly at Prenton Park and were good value for their early lead, which came in the tenth minute when Nicky Maynard fired past Mark Oxley in the Harrogate goal. A fourth goal of this season’s competition for Maynard, after a pinpoint delivery from Kyle Hayde, to find the striker.
Rovers continued to pile the pressure on the visitors and could’ve added their second through an unlikely source, Oxley making an impressive save to deny Joe Maguire a first Tranmere goal.
After an early barrage of Rovers pressure, Harrogate started to grow into the game and danger man Jack Diamond had an opportunity to level proceedings. He, however, dragged his shot wide of the goal.
At the other end, Rovers came close to adding a second when Callum McManaman latched onto a loose ball in the box, the 30-year-old’s attempt failing to hit the target.
That would be the last significant chance of a rather uneventful first half, Rovers with the lead, however, thanks to that Maynard strike.
The visitor’s made a lively start to the second half and had an opportunity to restore parity through substitute Jack Muldoon, his header well wide.
Muldoon continued to look lively off the bench for Harrogate and did find the back of the net shortly after, the attacker latching onto a cushioned pass from Josh Falkingham, before slotting past Joe Murphy.
After the equaliser, the pendulum of the game switched and Harrogate got their second in the 71st minute when Alex Pattison converted a rebound after Joe Murphy thwarted Luke Armstrong’s initial attempt.
Harrogate continued to frustrate Rovers and could’ve killed the game off when Armstrong aimed a fierce header goal-bound, the crossbar denying him.
Rovers searched frantically for an equaliser in the closing moments of the clash and Micky Mellon’s decision to throw Peter Clarke on in attack almost earned them a penalty shootout, the defender's cushioned header fell delightfully for Elliott Nevitt who came agonisingly close to equalising with the last kick of the game.
A frustrating evening for Rovers, who were worth their leads in the first half but struggled after the restart and were ultimately edged out by Harrogate, who headed back to Yorkshire with a place in the third round of the competition.
Tranmere team: Murphy, Hayde, MacDonald, Davies, Maguire (Clarke 90'), Merrie (O'Connor 72'), McManaman, Watson, Duffy (Foley 62'), Feeney (Jolley 71'), Maynard (Nevitt 72')
Unused subs: Doohan, Walker