Tranmere 2-2 Aldershot: Report

Tranmere can finally start planning their weekend in London after they booked a place at Wembley for the first time in nearly two decades.


A 2-2 draw with Aldershot in the second leg of their play-off semi-final was enough to go through 5-2 on aggregate.

Of course there were nerves, and naturally Rovers did not do things the easy way, but they now find themselves just 90 minutes from a return to the Football League.



Not since the League Cup final in 2000 have the Super White Army descended on the ground once known as “Wirral South”.


But a tactical masterclass from Micky Mellon secured a 3-0 victory in the first leg earlier in the week, with Cole Stockton netting twice.


Getting a clean sheet was massive, but Rovers also had history on their side.

Since the play-offs were introduced in The Football League and National League Premier, no team has had a three goal league after the first leg and failed to go through.

It truly was a commanding position to be in, and roared on by their biggest crowd in over three years, Tranmere were desperate to impress.

Mellon named an unchanged side from the game at the Recreation Ground, meaning top scorer Andy Cook continued to settle for a place on the bench.

The visitors meanwhile had nothing to lose, and named several attacking minded players in their XI.

Aldershot had the first chance, defender Nick Arnold curling a free-kick straight at Scott Davies from 25-yards.

At the other end, Jeff Hughes saw a chipped shot deflected wide as Tranmere looked to hit their visitors on the counter attack.

It certainly was not a bad game plan. Gary Waddock had his side throwing men forward, leaving gaps at the back for Rovers to exploit.

They got in behind a couple of times, only to see the offside flag waving or for possession to be surrendered after a poor touch.

Stockton put a shot over the bar with nearly half an hour on the clock, thumping well off target after Liam Ridehalgh’s cross was only partly cleared.

Then, after Matt McClure tested Davies with a long range effort, Prenton Park erupted as Tranmere took the lead – and went 4-0 up on aggregate.

The goalkeeper immediately cleared the ball deep into the Aldershot half, and it was well won by Lois Maynard.

He in turn found Stockton, who showed great composure to turn round his man before curling past Cole from close range.


It was a lovely finish from the striker, who has now scored 13 times since returning to Prenton Park from a loan spell at Morecambe.

Indeed, twelve months ago it looked like his Tranmere career was over, but he has come back to the Wirral a much more confident figure and has played a huge part in the promotion push.

Taking the lead settled Rovers down, and they nearly went 2-0 up shortly afterwards, Maynard this time fizzing a shot just past the post from the edge of the box.

But with half-time approaching, Aldershot found a way back into the game as Bernard Mensah brilliantly levelled the score.

The forward curled into the top corner from 20-yards, giving Davies no chance and quietening The Kop.

The visitors now had a bit more of a spring in their step, and Emmanuel Oyeleke had another long range effort shortly afterwards, though he fired well off target.

After the break, it did not take Tranmere long to recapture their stride as Maynard rattled the woodwork with a towering back-post header from an Adam Buxton free-kick.

James Norwood then forced a terrific save out of Cole, nodding goalwards from point blank range only for the ‘keeper to somehow catch.

But Aldershot were determined not to give up, and they found themselves ahead on 50-minutes after converting from a corner.

Tranmere failed to deal with a ball swung in towards the near post, with McClure getting the defining touch as he stabbed into the roof of the net.

From then on, the two teams traded blows as the ball swung from end to end.

Maynard had a couple of chances for Rovers, one a shot from 10-yards that was cleared off the line and another a header which Cole saved.


In between, McClure once again stung Davies’ fingers with a swinging drive from the edge of the box.

Norwood was the next to come close, with a rapid 60-yard run ending in a shot that was blocked.

Davies then produced the save of the season to keep Rovers’ noses in front as they once again struggled to deal with a corner.

This time it was Callum Reynolds who won a header at the back post, but Davies arched his back and managed to drag the ball away from the line.

The counter attack was always on, though, and Stockton stretched to stab over the bar after another quick Norwood break down the left.

By now, there were just ten minutes to go and the Super White Army started to raise the roof on Prenton Park.

Naturally, Aldershot desperately launched the ball forward hoping something would drop their way, and it was Norwood who had the final say, sliding home from close range in injury time to level at 2-2.

The excitement was too much for some Tranmere fans, who spilled onto the pitch with a couple of minutes still to play.


But after several years of hurt, the glory days could be about to return.

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