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Tranmere is in the 3rd. Round of the FA Cup in the hat after finally battling Brackley Town outside of the league in front of the BBC cameras at Prenton Park.
A lush second-half goal from substitute Kaiyne Woolery proved to be the difference between the two teams, but the National League North, which plays two divisions under League Two Rovers, more than held its own.
Resisting the temptation to switch squads, Keith Hill only made one change to the team that beat Carlisle United on Tuesday and prevailed.
Liam Ridehalgh came in for the injured Lee O’Connor on the left and Calum MacDonald switched flanks to fill in on the right.
For the late great Diego Maradona, a minute of silence was observed before the action began.
After a bad start, visitors got the game’s first real chance when a heavy shot from Lee Ndlovu deflected off for a corner.
Tre Mitford then moved on when the non-league team revealed they weren’t here to level the numbers for the television cameras.
Mitford got closer a few minutes later when he shook Manny Monthe’s attention before hitting a left-footed shot that went just over the bar.
Rusty Rovers was quick to react, with MacDonald pulling low from 20 yards before James Vaughan kicked the Cowsheds overhead after a cross from the full-back.
The second division side now appeared to be privy to the competition, but was almost caught just before half-time when a 25-yard drive by Shep Murombedzi whistled right past the post.
City guard Danny Lewis was put into action as he saved Liam Feeney’s volley from a Corey Black-Taylor cross, but otherwise he was largely undisturbed for the first 45 minutes.
Rovers returned with more intent after the break, but all too often encountered the same dead ends, reversing possession and encouraging their National League North opponents to attack as they did so.
A wild shot from Vaughan across the bar just before the hour was a perfect illustration of the hosts’ frustration.
Hill had seen enough by now and after 60 minutes made a double swap that brought Paul Lewis and Woolery for Otis Khan and Feeney.
When Kieron Morris saw a low drive deflect far before Vaughan headed the next corner over the bar, Lewis still had only one save to make, two-thirds of the 90 minutes had already blown.
The fact that the Northamptonshire Saints had not got Scott Davies into trouble himself was reflected in Murombedzi shooting through a group of bodies from 10 meters away when he should have been able to find the target.
Hill’s intervention after an hour paid off within eight minutes as substitute Woolery picked up the ball from the edge of the box and shot a right-footed shot home from the inside of the long post by Danny Lewis to give Rovers the lead to give.
From here on, Tranmere was able to control the flow of the competition much better.
Danny Lloyd came on for Corey Blackett-Taylor in less than 10 minutes before Vaughan missed a chance to double Rovers’ lead when he missed a Woolery cross on the penalty spot.
In truth, Tranmere saw the end of the tie without too much trouble and is now looking forward to the prospect of facing a bigger name in the next round of the competition.
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Tranmere Rovers F. . C.. . , Brackley Town F.. . C.. . , FA Cup, Kaiyne Woolery, National League, EFL League Two
World news – GB – Woolery strike brings Rover’s narrow FA Cup win against Brackley Town, which is not a league
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– Battling Brackley bows out of the FA Cup as Woolery Stunner wins it for Tranmere
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