A stunning 30-yarder from Ollie Banks, which required goal-line technology to confirm the ball was over the line, gave Tranmere Rovers a 1-0 lead over Forest Green Rovers going into the play-off semi-final second leg on Monday night.
The goal came 10 minutes after the visitors had been down to 10 men following a straight red card for Gavin Gunning after an altercation with Jay Harris.
Tranmere began the game well and half chances fell the way of both Connor Jennings and James Norwood who were both unable to test Forest Green shot-stopper Lewis Ward.
The red card came after just 15 minutes. Harris had initially fouled Gunning for a free kick to be awarded, but swiped his leg at the Tranmere midfielder afterwards and the referee sent him for an early bath.
Ollie Banks opened the scoring in some style as he received the ball from Kieron Morris, drove forward with a touch and then rifled a thunderous effort from 30 yards which hit the underside of the crossbar and just crossed the goal-line, with technology on hand to confirm to the referee that it was in.
Former Forest Green striker James Norwood was looking to net his 32nd goal of the season against his previous employers, and had a number of good chances to do so before the half time interval.
A shot from the left side of the penalty area went narrowly wide of the target, Ward parrying an effort from 12 yards past his post, before a couple of shots on the turn from the edge of the penalty went just off-target as Tranmere went looking to double their lead.
It wasn’t to be as they had to settle for a single goal advantage going in at the break.
A great run by Nathan McGinley straight through the heart of the Tranmere defence almost created a chance for Forest Green’s leading goalscorer Christian Doidge but the Welshman tumbled under pressure from Manny Monthe and the chance was gone.
Chances continued to come at the other end. Norwood couldn’t quite get the desired connection on a Liam Ridehalgh cross and his effort drifted wide, before a low drilled Jake Caprice cross caused a goalmouth scramble with the visitors finally cleared away from danger.
Goalkeeper Ward denied a diving header from David Perkins while Forest Green felt aggrieved not to have a penalty when George Williams went down under pressure from Ridehalgh, the referee waving play on.
With the clock ticking down, Norwood had another effort on goal, firing a half volley goalwards which Ward again was on hand to save.
So Tranmere take a one-goal lead into Monday’s second leg at The New Lawn and are just 90 minutes from a potential third trip to Wembley in as many seasons.