Salford ran out comfortable 2-0 winners at Prenton Park this evening in the final game of Northern Group C of the Leasing.com Trophy.
The visitors got off to a flying start. Tranmere failed to clear their lines, before the ball fell to Oscar Threlkeld, who fired a shot goal bound. There was nothing Luke Pilling could do in the Tranmere goal, as the shot deflected past him into the bottom right hand corner giving the visitors the lead after just two minutes.
The host’s first chance came after 14 minutes, as Corey Blackett-Taylor hit a shot from just inside the penalty area after some brilliant trickery saw him glide past three Salford players. However the shot was easily dealt with by Cristopher Neal in the Tranmere net.
Only seconds later, Salford broke with pace and nearly doubled their lead. Brandon Asante got on the end of a cross before firing a shot at Pilling’s near post, which the youngster dealt with comfortably.
Rovers were beginning to get back into the game, and in the 21st minute, Tranmere full-back, Jake Caprice, put in an inviting cross right on the Salford six-yard box, but no white and blue shirt could get on the end of it.
Minutes later, Tranmere had another chance to get themselves back level. Connor Jennings first time shot slid just wide of the right hand post, which had Neal troubled momentarily.
Almost instantly, the Tranmere defence were caught napping, as Welshman Pilling was forced into a great save, as Salford went in search for their second goal.
After a few injury breaks during the first half, there were six minutes added on, but Salford went into the break with a deserved 1-0 lead.
Only minutes after the restart, Salford were looking the more likely to score again. A goal mouth scramble resulted in some last ditch defending from the Super Whites, who eventually cleared their lines.
The home side’s best chance of the match came in the 52nd minute. Salford thought they had cleared their lines, but the lively Jacob Maddox fired a first time volley goalwards, which had Salford stopped Neal scrambling, but the shot crept just wide of the post.
Things went from bad to worse for the hosts as Salford doubled their lead ten minutes into the second half. Captain Liam Hogan found himself unmarked at the back post from an in-swinging corner, before calmly heading the ball past a helpless Pilling in goal. There looked to be no way back for Tranmere.
Salford were good value for their lead midway through the second half, looking comfortable and continually threatening.
The Lancashire side were beginning to flex their muscles, as substitute Jake Jervis was close to adding another for the visitors. His far post volley from an acute angle went just over the crossbar to Luke Pilling’s relief.
In an attempt to rescue the tie, Micky Mellon opted to bring on Aston Villa loanee, Rushian Hepburn-Murphy. He was Tranmere’s main threat going forward, injecting pace, power and skill into the hosts attack late on.
Nevertheless, Salford held out comfortably to the final whistle, as Rovers struggled to break down the visitors defence.
Despite the loss tonight, Tranmere still progress alongside Salford into the knockout stages of the competition.
Final score: Tranmere Rovers 0-2 Salford City.