Tranmere Rovers 1

Forest Green Rovers 0

GOAL-LINE technology, a red card and two Forest Green penalty shouts served up a semi-final first leg blockbuster - handing Tranmere Rovers the slender advantage going into Monday night's second installment.

Mark Cooper's side were stung on 15 minutes when Gavin Gunning was handed a season-ending straight red for kicking out at Jay Harris.

It got worse for Forest Green when goal-line technology helped confirm an Ollie Banks first-half exocet – giving Micky Mellon’s side their first win in six attempts against their old non-league foes.

However, Forest Green and Cooper will point to a stonewall penalty just four minutes into the second-half -  striker Christian Doidge appearing to be fouled by Manny Montheand a lesser appeal when sub George Williams went down under a Liam Ridehalgh challenge.

Nonetheless, the game is evenly poised with Wembley the prize for the winners.

Earlier, Cooper named fit again George Williams on the bench and opted to recall Reading loanee goalkeeper Lewis Ward ahead of James Montgomery.

Seasoned campaigner Reuben Reid (slight knock) failed to make the 18-man squad and was left behind in Gloucestershire.

Cooper and Mellon’s men raced out of the blocks at 100mph, befitting of the ear-busting noise reverberating around Prenton Park.

Nervy touches were understandable considering the magnitude of the tie and Gunning, Carl Winchester and Farrend Rawson were culpable in the early exchanges.

Forest Green were trying to take the sting out of the clash as they settled into their eye-catching passing rhythm, much to the disdain of the Bebington Kop.

The roof came off Prenton Park on 15 minutes – Gunning seeing red after initially appearing to being fouled by the combative Harris and then raising his boot to his opponent as he went to ground.

The roof was definitely off on 26 minutes - Banks pulled the trigger from 30 yards to beat Ward all ends up with the referee using goal-line gizmo technology to confirm the sumptuous strike had crossed the line after coming off the underside of the bar.

Tranmere threatened to run away the game – Norwood rippling the outside of the net and then spanking over with just Ward to beat.

Cooper's tactical acumen saw Junior Mondal sacrifised on 32 minutes, ushering on the defensive-minded Lee Collins as Forest Green looked to negate the numerical hindrance.

Norwood was a football boot from clipping in an inviting Jake Caprice cross deep into first-half stoppage time as Tranmere ended an absorbing first-half with their tails up.

Forest Green needed a spark and Williams was ushered on for Grubb with  25 minutes of the tie to go.

McGinley ended up in the Kop after catapulting over the advertising boards and into the crowd. He was allowed back onto the pitch until the corner was taken and it almost proved costly with Caprice demanding a plunging save from Ward.

Cooper and his bench were hollering for a 79th minute penalty when Williams took a tumble when going toe-to-toe with Liam Ridehalgh.

Norwood fizzed into Ward in the dying embers of the game as Forest Green kept the scoreline to just one.

It may be advantage Tranmere, but the tie is nicely set for Monday night.

FGR ratings out of 10

Forest Green Rovers: Ward 6 , Shephard 7, Rawson 7, McGinley 7, Mills 8; Gunning 4, Winchester 7, Brown 6 (Digby 88), Grubb 6 (Williams, 6, 65), Mondal 5 (Collins 6, 32), Doidge 6

Subs not used: Montgomery, Godwin-Malife, James 

Tranmere Rovers:  Davies, Ridehalgh, Nelson, Monthe, Harris, Caprice, Perkins, Morris ( Smith 62), Banks (Gilmour 75), Norwood Jennings.

Referee: John Busby

Attendance: 9,579

FGR fans: 316

FGR star Man: Joseph Mills.

Next up: Forest Green face Tranmere in the second leg on Monday at the New Lawn, 7.45pm.