Tranmere Rovers booked their place at Wembley in the Papa John’s Trophy Final with a 2-0 win at League One side Oxford United.
Sky Sports Man of the Match Kaiyne Woolery and Keiron Morris were the goal scorers on a memorable night for TRFC as we secured a fourth visit to Prenton Park South in five years.
Rovers will face either Lincoln City or Sunderland in next month’s final, with the match played tomorrow night. Overall, Tranmere were excellent throughout, and saw off the in form team in the league above, with Oxford having won their 11 of their last 12 games before tonight.
Tranmere Rovers were led by Captain Scott Davies for the semi-final tie, with our top goal scorer in the competition, Danny Lloyd, also in the starting line up.
There was an experienced bench for Tranmere, with James Vaughan, Liam Feeney, David Nugent and Jay Spearing waiting in the wings.
A fast start from Rovers as former Swindon striker Woolery picked up a ball on the right, driving forward he had a low shot saved by the goalkeeper.
Tranmere continued their high tempo start and were doing all the pressing in the opening ten minutes, with Calum MacDonald and Lloyd both finding space behind the Oxford backline. The latter was on the end of a great team move, forcing a strong handed save from the goalkeeper, this came seconds after Mark Sykes missed a glorious opportunity in front of Davies’ goal after a clever pull back from Matty Taylor.
Oxford were presented another chance with 12 minutes gone, back to goal, Taylor was in but great composure by Davies prevented the striker from putting the League One side ahead.
Tranmere were the team on the front foot and their momentum paid off in the 35th minute after a sustained period of pressure as dangerman Woolery got his name on the scoresheet.
Causing havoc on the right, Woolery cut inside a slammed the ball past the goalkeeper Simon Eastwood.
TRFC could have doubled their lead in the 40th minute as George Ray connected with a Woolery corner but his header was hacked off the line. Minutes later, controversy as the League One side seemed to have committed a pass back to the goalkeeper, but for some reason, the decision was not given in the away team’s favour.
Rovers handed Oxford a penalty in the 48th minute, when Morris tripped a midfielder who progressed into the area. However, Taylor thumped the ball over the bar.
In the 57th minute, Kirby was taken off for top goal scorer, James Vaughan, as boss Keith Hill looked for some presence in attack with Lewis dropping deeper.
Oxford started to put the pressure on in search of an equaliser at the Kassam Stadium and they hit the post in the 62nd, as Taylor capitalised on a mistake at the back.
From the resulting corner, Taylor hit the bar this time with a looping header, a good spell for the home side.
Tranmere put themselves two goals to the good as a free-kick from the left by Lloyd dropped to the feet of Morris who put his laces through the ball and it flew into the bottom left hand corner.
In the 70th minute, Tranmere made three changes as Lloyd, Otis Khan and Woolery went off in place of experienced trio Liam Ridehalgh, Liam Feeney and Jay Spearing.
MacDonald, now in an advanced position, put in a quick low cross from the left which was nearly turned home by Vaughan.
Oxford had another late chance when a cross went across goal but fortunately for TRFC, no yellow shirt could turn home, and soon after, a back heel was well saved by Davies.
A final change for TRFC saw the experienced Peter Clarke come on second goal scorer, Morris.
Rovers held out to secure their place under the famous arch with Lincoln or Sunderland the opponents in March’s showpiece final.
Our next match will be this weekend when we play host to Oldham Athletic at Prenton Park, 3pm kick-off on Saturday 19th February. The game will be live to watch on iFollow for just £10 by CLICKING HERE.
Tranmere: Davies, Khan (Ridehalgh 70), Monthe, Ray, MacDonald, O’Connor, Kirby (Vaughan 57), Morris (Clarke 90), Lloyd (Feeney 70), Woolery (Spearing 70), Lewis. Unused subs: Jones, Nugent
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