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Match Reports

Report: Oxford United 0-2 Tranmere Rovers

16 February 2021

On a fabulous night at the Kassam Stadium, Tranmere Rovers booked their place at Wembley in the Papa John's Trophy final with a deserved 2-0 win against League One side Oxford United. 

Sky Sports Man of the Match Kaiyne Woolery and Keiron Morris were the goal scorers to seal Tranmere's passage to the final, and a fourth visit to the home of English football in five years. 

Rovers will play either Lincoln City or Sunderland in next month’s final, with their semi-final taking place on Wednesday evening at the Stadium of Light. 

Tranmere were excellent from start to finish against Oxford United in order to see off the in-form team in the division above Keith Hill's men. To put into context, Oxford won 11 of their last 12 matches before playing Tranmere. 

Club captain Scott Davies and Danny Lloyd were named in the starting line-up, the latter being the top goal scorer for Rovers in this season's competition.

Hill also named an experienced bench, with James Vaughan, Liam Feeney, David Nugent and Jay Spearing waiting in the wings.

Rovers raced out of the blocks as Woolery picked up the ball on the right and drove past the United backline before seeing his shot saved by the goalkeeper. 

Tranmere's high intensity continued and didn't let the hosts have a second on the ball, pressing from defence to attack. 

Lloyd, who scored in the previous round against Peterborough United, was on the end of a great team move, forcing a strong handed save from Simon Eastwood. Lloyd's opportunity came minutes after Mark Sykes missed a glorious chance for the hosts after a clever pull back from Matty Taylor.

Davies showed great composure in the 12th minute to deny Oxford from point blank range as Taylor beat the offside trap.  

Despite Oxford's two chances, Tranmere were the team on the front foot throughout the first half, and their hard work paid off in the 35th minute as winger Woolery scored the opening goal of the game.

Causing havoc on the right-hand side, Woolery cut inside to fire an unstoppable shot into the far corner from just outside the penalty area. 

Tranmere could have doubled their lead five minutes later. Defender George Ray climbed above a crowd of yellow shirts to direct a header from a Woolery corner goal bound, but the ball was cleared off the line to round off a brilliant 45 for Hill's men.

The second half started in dramatic fashion, as Oxford were awarded a penalty in the 48th minute following a foul from Morris. Oxford striker Taylor stepped up to take the spot kick, but he hammered the ball over the frame of the bar, a big let off for Tranmere!

A cagey ten minutes followed, and Hill made his first change, as Nya Kirby was withdrawn for striker Vaughan. The change meant Vaughan was now leading the attack, Paul Lewis now taking a more central position in midfield. 

Oxford started to put the pressure on in search of an equaliser at the Kassam Stadium and they hit the post in the 62nd minute, as Taylor capitalised on a miss placed pass. From the resulting corner, Taylor hit the bar this time with a looping header, showing just why they have won 11 of their last 12 matches.

But Tranmere weathered the storm and began to get a foothold back on the semi-final tie and soon enough scored a second.

An in-swinging free-kick from Lloyd was only half cleared by the Oxford defence, with the ball falling kindly at the feet of Morris to hit a first time strike into the bottom corner. 

With the objective to hold onto the two-goal lead, Hill made three defensive changes, as Lloyd, Otis Khan and Woolery were replaced by experienced trio Liam Ridehalgh, Feeney and Spearing.

Tranmere nearly added a third when a fierce low cross from Calum MacDonald was begging to be tapped home by Vaughan, but sadly he couldn't get a clean connection to test Eastwood. 

Chasing the game, Oxford had a late chance when a back heel from Taylor was well saved by Davies, but Tranmere held on to secure a place under the famous Wembley arch, with Lincoln City 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

The match report is sponsored by MAIN. Please CLICK HERE to visit their website.


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