Tranmere 5-1 Barrow: Report

A rampant Tranmere reached their first cup semi-final in 17-years as they came from behind to batter Barrow in the FA Trophy.



Cole Stockton’s first senior hat-trick was the most telling contribution as they recorded a brilliant 5-1 victory.



The tables have turned somewhat of course since Rovers last reached the last four of a competition.



Back in 2000, John Aldridge’s side were true giant killers. The likes of Coventry and Middlesbrough were amongst the big-boys to be emphatically dispatched.



Now, the prize is less glamorous and less prestigious, whilst the opposition has been significantly weaker.

Tranmere are the hunted instead, the lion stalking its prey – teams like Chelmsford and South Park.



But that does not make the achievement any less significant, as the club are once again dreaming of Wembley.

Rovers were this week rocked by the news that Ben Tollitt will miss the remainder of the season due to a knee injury, whilst Jack Dunn faces six weeks on the sidelines with a hamstring problem.



With that in mind, Micky Mellon made four changes, resting Andy Cook and James Norwood in attack as well.


That meant Stockton and Andy Mangan were given a chance to impress, whilst the manager also opted for a switch to a 3-5-2 formation.

They actually struggled to get used to the new system early on, with loose passes meaning Tranmere could not get hold of the ball.

Scott Davies’ goal had barely been threatened before Barrow emphatically took the lead through Jordan Williams.



A long ball forward made dropped invitingly for the winger, and he slapped powerfully into the roof of the net from the edge of the box.

It could have been 2-0 a few minutes later, but Alex-Ray Harvey’s shooting was wayward after an error from Hughes.

Tranmere needed something to galvanise the fans and the players, and it came in the most unfortunate of circumstances.

After all the bad luck they have had over the last week injury wise, the next action saw Jake Kirby stretchered off with a horrific looking leg problem.


The winger was caught by Nick Anderton near the corner flag and required lengthy treatment before he was carried from the field.

The impact of the collision echoed around the ground and it looks like the 22-year old could be heading for a lengthy spell on the sidelines.

Bizarrely, a foul was given against Kirby for the incident. Tranmere fed off this as they looked for a way back into the game.

Just six minutes after he departed, Rovers won a corner which was swung in by Hughes and fell to Michael Ihiekwe on the edge of the six yard box.



After taking a second to compose himself, the defender leathered the ball into the back of the net, grabbing his first goal of the season and levelling the scores.

Tranmere now had the momentum, and substitute Adam Mekki, desperate to impress in just his second appearance of 2017, had a couple of chances before the break.



One, following a neat turn, took a deflection and bounced wide, but the other was slightly more ambitious, a bobbling effort from 30-yards than went harmlessly past the post.

The start to the second half and Ritchie Sutton came close early on, flashing a near post header just wide as he looked to add to his three goals in the competition already.



Then with their next attack, Tranmere took the lead through Cole Stockton after some terrific work by Lois Maynard.



The midfielder won the ball in his own half and a characteristic driving run carried Rovers forward.



Lee Vaughan was eventually picked out on the right, and his deep cross was met by Mangan at the back post, who simply nodded back across for Stockton to prod into an empty net.

The striker had another chance ten minutes later, this time meeting Mekki’s ball, but his header was tipped acrobatically over the bar by Jonathan Flatt.

He would not be denied next time though, as Tranmere put one foot in the semi-finals on 72 minutes.

Again, it was a simple finish for Stockton, tapping into an empty net from near the penalty spot after an excellent shot by Mangan was saved by Flatt, who could not push the ball to safety.

Mangan got a goal of his own shortly afterwards, and it was the strike of the match as he sealed the tie.


He was charged with free-kick taking duties after a foul on Mekki, and brilliantly found the top corner from 25-yards.

Stockton then put the icing on the cake in the closing minutes as he completed his treble from the penalty spot after a foul on Liam Ridehalgh.

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