Mills 12


Norwood 27

(Tranmere win 2-1 on aggregate)

FOREST GREEN nemesis James Norwood returned to haunt his old club as Tranmere Rovers booked their place at Wembley.

Norwood’s stunning first-half leveller cancelled out Joseph Mills’ opener to send Tranmere back to Wembley for the second time in a year as Mick Mellon’s side triumphed 2-1 on aggregate.

Norwood certainly took centre stage as Forest Green finished with a numerical disadvantage again - Carl Winchester red-carded with 23 minutes to go – the Forest Green man penalised for halting Norwood is in his tracks - although TV replays revealed more of a coming together than an unsportsmanlike foul.

You could literally taste the pre-match atmosphere as Mark Cooper embarked on an uncharacteristic and rousing connection with the fans, applauding the masses crammed into the stadium for this monumental League Two play-off semi-final second leg game.

Trailing 1-0 from the first leg on Friday night, it was Forest Green who craved a dream start and they got it on 12 minutes. Junior Mondal’s pin-point free-kick picked out the pony-tailed Mills, who rose highest to plant a sumptuous header beyond Scott Davies to level the tie on aggregate and raise the roof off the New Lawn.

Floored by the early goal, Tranmere looked for a way back in. Ollie Banks served notice of his ability from long range, but this time his skidder from 25 yards was meat and drink for Lewis Ward.

Tranmere regained the lead and the initiative on 27 minutes and that man Norwood proved to be Forest Green’s arch-enemy  – spanking in from just inside the box from a Connor Jennings assist and then nonchantly cupping his ear to the baying Forest Green fans, who had berated him from minute one.

With the tie now 2-1 in Tranmere’s favour it was Forest Green who were chasing the game. Dayle Grubb drifted from the left to test Davies with a stinger from the edge of the box.

Forest Green cranked it up in the dying embers of the first-half and only last-gasp defending from Liam Ridehalgh denied Christian Doidge the opportunity to nod in from a delicious Mills cross. Sid Nelson’s late toe-poke stopped Mondal as the winger stepped on the gas.

George Williams replaced Mondal at the break and In his first action the Welsh wizard was on the money.

Tranmere had one foot at Wembley, but Forest Green were hopping mad on the hour – Williams taking a tumble in the box after slipping beyond Manny Monthe. Cooper’s touchline protests were ignored.

The clock ticked but Forest Green kept pedalling – the combative Winchester fizzing wide from the edge of the box.

Winchester’s night ended on 67 minutes as he was handed a second yellow for clashing with Norwood.

Forest Green huffed and puffed, but couldn't knock the Tranmere door down.

Tranmere fans ran onto  the pitch on the final whistle, with Rovers'  McGinley appearing to be shoved to the floor in the ensuing scenes.


Forest Green Rovers: Ward 6; Shephard 7, Rawson 6, McGinley 7, Mills 8; Collins 7 (McCoulsky 80), Winchester 7, Grubb 6 (James 70), Mondal 6 (Williams 45), Brown 7; Doidge 6

Subs not used: Montgomery, Pearce, Godwin-Malife, Digby

Tranmere Rovers: Davies, Ridehalgh, Nelson, Monthe, Harris, Caprice, Jennings, Perkins, Morris (Gilmour 65), Banks, Norwood.

Referee: Eddie Illderton

Attendance: 4,492 (1,188 Tranmere)

SNJ star man: Joseph Mills