Merseyrail Ladies were 4-0 winners against top-of-the-table Tranmere in a classic derby to leapfrog their rivals to the summit.

It was a gutsy performance and it was the half-time substitutions of the away side which proved too much for unbeaten Tranmere in a rampant second half.

A Charlotte Cloy penalty, a brace from Sophie Perry and a bullet header from Vicky Yee topped off a hard-earned win in a derby that had an added twist.

If first versus second and the geographical proximity between the two sides wasn’t enough, the coaching staff and a cluster of players for Merseyrail made the switch from their Birkenhead counterpart’s last season.

But MRLFC coach Lee Austin still holds his former North West Women’s Regional Premier side in high regard.

He said: “I loved my time at Tranmere, and I make sure I say that all the time because it really brought me on as a manager.

“But for this new team to come together, to play against my old team to put a performance like that I’m always going to be happy.”

It was a scrappy, physical first half with heavy challenges coming in from both sides with neither team able to play progressive football.

The rhythm of the game was disrupted with the referee reluctant to use his cards.

Neither team carved out a dangerous chance and it felt like a piece of luck was needed to open the scoring.

And that’s exactly what the away side received.

A penalty was awarded in the 43rd minute after winger Yee was brought down and Cloy fired the spot-kick down the middle to get a crucial lead.

With not much to split the side in that first half, Austin was very pleased with how the players’ conducted themselves.

“We had a plan for the first and second half and we got what we deserved in the end, ” he added.

The biggest thing that will please the visitors was the impact of the substitutes.

Tricky winger Charlotte Tyers, Sophie Perry and Chelcee Grimes back from COVID all combined for two of the goals and were pivotal to get the three points.

“What I wanted to do was contain them (Tranmere).

“I knew with me returning and a few of the girls who used to play for them that they would be up for a battle, Tranmere did try and fight us and win back possession.

“The idea was to make them work hard and hit them with our power.”

In the end, it looked like a well-executed plan and will be high on confidence with a huge game away to Durham Cestria to get into the first proper round of the Vitality Women’s FA Cup.