The Tranmere men went into this game just 90 short minutes from and appearance in the final of the 2021 Papa John’s Trophy Final at Wembley.
Tranmere defeated Peterborough United 2-1 in the previous round at Prenton Park to reach the semis.
Before kick-off, Manager Keith Hill said, “The players are looking forward to it. We’ve done exceptionally well in the previous rounds to get where we have done, and in the last round we beat League One opponents and we’re going to have to do the same against a very productive and a very attractive Oxford side.”
Tranmere Rovers were led by Captain Scott Davies for the semi-final tie, with an experienced bench, with James Vaughan, Liam Feeney, David Nugent and Jay Spearing waiting in the wings.
Things got off to a swift start for Rovers as striker Woolery picked up a ball on the right, penetrating forward, but his low shot was saved by Oxford’s goalkeeper, Simon Eastwood.
Oxford missed a great chance at 12 minutes, Taylor was in but great composure by home side goalie, Davies, prevented the striker from putting the League One side ahead.
Tranmere had control of the first half and their momentum paid off in the 35th minute when Kaiyne Woolery’s fierce strike set Rovers on the way to a fourth Wembley visit in five seasons.
Rovers handed Oxford a penalty in the 48th minute when Morris tripped a midfielder in the area. However, Oxford’s Matty Taylor sky-rocketed the penalty over the bar.
Oxford kept the pressure on, looking for an equaliser. A shot that hit the post in the 62nd was the best they could muster, as Taylor capitalised on a mistake from Tranmere’s defence.
From the resulting corner, Taylor hit the bar this time with a looping header, a good spell for the home side.
Tranmere increased their lead with a free-kick from the left by Lloyd dropped to Morris who cannoned the ball into the bottom left-hand corner of the net.
Oxford had won 11 of their previous 12 games in all competitions including a club record nine straight wins, but they looked ‘disjointed for long spells’ and the scoreline reflects their form today.
Tranmere’s next match is this weekend, Saturday 12 February, as they host Oldham Athletic for a 3pm kick-off. Sunderland take on Lincoln City tomorrow to determine the second team to reach the EFL final at Wembley on 14 March.
The deferred 2019-20 final between Portsmouth and Salford City, delayed by almost a year because of the coronavirus pandemic, will be played 24 hours earlier on Saturday, 13 March.
Matt Hibbert’s thoughts…
Possibly our best performance of the season, professional, clinical, almost perfect, incredible really.
We rode our luck at times, with the penalty miss and the amount of dangerous balls they put in our box, but we stood up, to a man, and kept them out.
The only downer is that we can’t go down to Wembley, but we’ve been spoilt with our visits there in recent years so we can’t really complain.
Up the Tranmere!Matt Hibbert – Presenter, This is Tranmere Podcast
Matt Hibbert, Paul Harper and Jake Keogh present the “This is Tranmere” podcast available on Soundcloud, Apple Podcasts & Spotify with post-match reaction for every Tranmere game. #TRFC #SWA
These are the links to the Oxford v Tranmere podcast:
These fans express their opinion on today’s game …
1 Simon Eastwood
20 Jamie Hanson
3 Josh Ruffels
5 Elliott Moore (C)
24 Joe Grayson
6 Alex Rodriguez
17 James Henry
10 Mark Sykes
9 Matty Taylor
7 Robert Hall
25 Olamide Shodipo
13 Jack Stevens
22 Robert Atkinson
30 Brandon Barker
8 Cameron Brannagan
14 Anthony Forde
28 Liam Kelly
11 Sam Winnall
37 David Stockdale
2 Luther Wildin
28 Joe Martin
15 Terence Vancooten
6 Luke Prosser (C)
40 Chris Lines
17 Elliott List
26 Tom Pett
27 Jack Aitchison
36 Luke Norris
7 Charlie Carter
13 Ben Jones
26 Peter Clarke
3 Liam Ridehalgh
19 Liam Feeney
8 Jay Spearing
28 David Nugent
9 James Vaughan