Aldershot 0-3 Tranmere: Rovers on Wembley trail

A clinical Tranmere took a huge step towards the play-off final after beating Aldershot 3-0 in the first leg of their semi.

Cole Stockton gave Rovers the lead with only two minutes on the clock at the Recreation Ground.

And he doubled his tally for the evening in the second half, whilst James Norwood was also on target as the visitors put in a superb performance in Hampshire.

As expected, Micky Mellon made a full eleven changes from Saturday’s 1-0 win over Maidstone in the final league game of the regular season.

Indeed, only Aaron Collins survived from the trip to the Gallagher Stadium, although he had to settle for a place on the substitute’s bench.

Lee Vaughan’s injury meant a change of formation from the manager too, with Rovers returning to a 4-3-3 formation and Lois Maynard making just his second appearance in two months.

The visitors started on the front foot, with Jeff Hughes taking just 15 seconds to find the roof the stand behind the goal.

Just a couple of minutes later, the visitors took the lead as Cole Stockton bagged his eleventh goal of 2017.

The striker was picked out near the six yard line and produce a sharp turn before firing under Jake Cole from close range.

He had Jeff Hughes to thank for some good work though, with the midfielder battling hard to win the ball before crossing into the middle.

The game settled down after that, broken up by regular fouls given each way.

The slippy grass made things difficult too, with passes and players skidding around after a downpour early on.

Stockton nearly grabbed a second with 22 minutes gone, this time receiving Liam Ridehalgh’s cross after great play by James Norwood and James Wallace, but the shot was blocked.

It took nearly half an hour for Aldershot to fashion their first chance, with Jim Kellermann flicking a dangerous corner just wide across goal.

They came even closer soon afterwards, with Idris Kanu rattling the woodwork with a clipped shot after some beautiful build up play down their left.

Defender Will Evans than fancied his chances from distance and had Scott Davies scurrying across his goal, only for the ball to sail wide.

The hosts had finished the finished the first half on top, and they continued that momentum after the break.

Former Tranmere loanee Shamir Fenelon, on as a substitute, had a shot just seconds after the restart, but Davies was able to save low down.

But the play was soon down the other end, and Tranmere doubled their lead after an error by the Aldershot ‘keeper.

Ridehalgh swung the ball in from the left, and it looked an easy catch for Cole.

Indeed, play stopped as the ball came to him, but he dropped possession at the feet of Norwood who simply walked the ball into the back of the net.

That gave the visitors some breathing space, and they could begin to relax into the second half.

Aldershot were struggling to break through the Rovers defence, as the back four stood resolute.

At the other end, Connor Jennings had an ambitious shot from long range, but he could only slice well wide from 25-yards.

Then, with under 15 minutes left, Tranmere struck gold as a stunning counter attack led to a third.

Jeff Hughes won the ball in midfield and picked out Norwood, who in turn carried the ball forward 50-yards.

Stockton had charged alongside him, and after receiving a perfectly timed pass, he slid the ball past the ‘keeper and in at the far post.

That sent the travelling fans, with all 896 of them in good voice throughout, cheering the boys on to victory.

Andy Cook, Andy Mangan and Jack Dunn were introduced late on as Micky Mellon looked to see the game out.

And they helped do so comfortably, as Tranmere take a big lead into the second leg on Saturday.


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