The SWA experienced late heartbreak on Tuesday evening, as they were eliminated from the Papa John’s Trophy after suffering a penalty shootout defeat at the hands of Burton Albion, after the two sides played out a thoroughly entertaining 1-1 draw at the Pirelli Stadium.
Rovers made a lively start to proceedings in Staffordshire and called Burton’s Ben Garratt into action straightaway, with the Brewers’ shot stopper making a fine double save to deny the SWA from taking an early lead.
Shortly after, the hosts had their first chance of the encounter through Joe Powell, with the midfielder’s long-range drive well-wide of Mateusz Hewelt in the Rovers goal.
Rovers continued to look sharp in the game’s opening moments and had another opportunity to take the lead through Kane Hemmings, who called Ben Garratt into a fine save after connecting well to a Ethan Bristow cross. But from the resulting corner, the SWA did break the deadlock with Jordan Turnbull firing home from close-range. A well deserved lead for Rovers and a second goal of the season for Turnbull.
The SWA continued to test their League One opponents and came agonisingly close to doubling their advantage through Josh Dacres-Cogley, with his cross almost finding it’s way into the goal, with only the crossbar denying Rovers a quickfire second goal.
After absorbing a spell of Tranmere pressure, the hosts had a chance of their own to level proceedings through Michael Mancienne, with the experienced defender, formerly of Nottingham Forest, volleying over Mateusz Hewelt in the Rovers goal.
By this point, the game was very much end-to-end, with the SWA still looking to get forward and attack wherever possible, Ethan Bristow was causing the Burton defence all sorts of problems down the left side and called Deji Oshilaja into a fine piece of defensive action, with the Brewers defender blocking a low-driven strike just before the half time whistle.
Overall, a strong first half showing from the SWA, who were good value for their lead at the break.
After the restart, Rovers continued to look lively and had a glorious opportunity to double their lead through Elliott Nevitt, who fired over the bar after a quick counter-attack from the SWA. A huge opportunity to go ahead 2-0.
Rovers were continuing to search for a second goal and had another opportunity shortly after through Kane Hemmings, with the former Burton striker glancing his header onto the roof of the goal. More encouraging signs for the SWA, nonetheless. With Hemmings going close against his hometown club.
After this, the game became much more balanced, with both sides exchanging possession without creating any clear cut opportunities. Rovers were digging in deep.
Just after the 80th minute-mark Burton had a huge chance to equalise through Bobby Kamwa, who got in behind the Rovers defence before guiding his chipped effort over the bar.
Moments after, the Brewers had another chance through former Huddersfield winger Mustapha Carayol, with his snapshot calling Mateusz Hewelt into a fine save. Another reprieve for Rovers as Burton pushed for a leveller.
But in stoppage time, Burton did find a leveller when the lively Carayol struck home from close range after Rovers failed to clear their lines. A late blow for the SWA, with the match now heading to penalties.
In the shootout, both sides missed 1 of their first 4 penalties, to take the shootout to sudden death, where both Lee O’Connor and Tom Hamer blazed over the bar. Josh Dacres-Cogley then missed for Rovers, before Bobby Kamwa converted his spot-kick to send Burton through and condemn Rovers to defeat.
A harsh result for Rovers, who fought hard against their League One opponents before suffering defeat in the shootout. Positives nonetheless, with the SWA more than matching their opponents over the course of the 90 minutes.
Up next for Rovers is a trip to Northampton next Saturday, with Micky Mellon’s side out of action this weekend.
Tranmere team: Hewelt, Dacres-Cogley, Turnbull, Simeu, Bristow, O’Connor, Merrie, Nolan (Hawkes 60’), Morris (Hughes 75’), Nevitt (Lewis 60’), Hemmings