Tranmere and Everton share honours with late penalty drama

Connor Jennings’ header early in the second half looked to put Tranmere on course for their second win of pre-season, but Stanley Mills’ late penalty rescued a draw for Everton.

It took a while for the game to spark into life, as both defences were bluntly cutting out attacks, but Tranmere’s chances caused problems for the Toffees back-line.

Virginia was tested just under the quarter of an hour mark, as the returning Kieran Morris wriggled his way in and managed to get a shot away, but the Everton shot-stopper did well to palm it behind for a corner.

The resulting corner was venomously swung in and a trailing leg managed to carry the ball forward on goal, with Virginia saving that stop as well.

The hosts continued to search for an opener, and as Paul Lewis collected the ball on the edge of the D, he opened his body up and struck a low drive, but Ryan Astley was there to put his body out to thwart the effort.

Everton didn’t test Luke McGee up until the end of the first half when an in-swinging cross by Katia Kouyate was only partially cleared by Rovers debutant Jake Leake, and Stanley Mills’ looping volley was tipped over by McGee in between the sticks.  

The closest scoring chance came just before the break for the home side, as Josh Hawkes’ cross found Sam Taylor at the back post, and although he diverted his shot on goal, he couldn’t fire it beyond the post.

Everton broke from that and almost fired beating Luke McGee as Stanley Mills fired one on target, but the new Rovers keeper managed to keep it out.

HT: Tranmere 0-0 Everton

The whistle signalling the beginning of the second half had barely sounded before Tranmere were peppering the goal again. The lively Sam Taylor ventured forward after winning the ball and he struck at goal, but the shot drifted just wide.

The pressure paid dividends as the hosts drew first blood from a returning face, as from a Regan Hendry corner, Connor Jennings nodded past Virginia.  

Looking for a response, Lewis Dobbin raced the entire field and looked certain to net as it was just him and McGee one-on-one, but a last-ditch tackle by Lee O’Connor prevented the Everton attacker from netting.

After replacing Sam Taylor mid-way through the second period, Harvey Saunders almost made the desired impact as he fizzed a shot forward, but Billy Crellin, who came on in goal for the Toffees, comfortably scooped the shot.

Luke McGee was called back into action as a move started by Tyler Onyango was almost finished by Everton number eight, but his shot was brilliantly beaten away by the commanding McGee.

Mackenzie Hunt breathed a sigh of relief as he had his pockets pinched on the half-way line, allowing Tranmere to break with Charlie Jolley. He picked up the ball and forced Everton back, with his shot almost creeping into the bottom corner.

Half-chances kept coming and going for both towards the end of the game but deep into added time, Everton won a penalty for a handball from a free-kick swung in. Stanley Mills stood up and calmly placed it into the bottom corner to bring Everton level.

In an attempt to instantly re-instate the lead, Harvey Saunders galloped Tranmere forward before striking from distance, his shot flew high and wide so was no trouble for Crellin.

FT: Tranmere 1-1 Everton

Image: Tony Coombes

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