It was far from plain sailing but Tranmere Rovers put in a professional performance to see off non-league Chichester City and progress into the Third Round of the FA Cup.
The 5-1 scoreline suggests a comfortable afternoon for Micky Mellon’s side, but Chichester certainly made things difficult for the opening hour or so, before tired legs and Rovers’ extra quality coming through to put a gloss on the result.
The non-leaguers had a great chance to take the lead in the first half when a delightful ball in from the right was headed inches past the post.
Rovers were a little lacklustre in possession in that first 45 minutes, taking a few too many touches which allowed City to get back into their shape, get players behind the ball and frustrate both players and fans.
When the tempo increased, Tranmere looked dangerous and Kieron Morris and Corey Blackett-Taylor both went close. But the score was goalless at the break in a half that the Isthmian League South East Division team could be very proud of indeed.
The second 45 minutes saw Rovers step up a gear or two and some clinical finishing demonstrated the five division gap between the two clubs.
The opener came with Chichester skipper and central defender Connor Cody off the field receiving treatment. Unfortunate for them, Tranmere took advantage with Corey Blackett-Taylor in the right place to steer home the rebound from Morgan Ferrier’s crossbar-hit header.
Then the floodgates opened as weary legs from the non-league side led to mistakes.
Ferrier capitalised on a mix-up between the two centre backs to fire in number two, before he outmuscled and outsmarted the same pair to lob the goalkeeper from 30 yards with a beautiful finish.
His hat-trick came soon after when he side-footed home a Jake Caprice cross. Matchball secured, Micky Mellon brought the former Walsall man off to a standing ovation from the Super White Army.
Blackett-Taylor bagged his second of the game with a lovely half-turn and shot from 15 yards to make it 5-0, but the visitors kept going and got a goal which they celebrated as if it was the matchwinner.
A right wing corner was swung into the six yard box and the striker got the slightest of touches to take the ball inside the far post.
Great for Chichester and their fans, not so great for Rovers. Another goal conceded from a set piece and a real area for concern for Micky Mellon and his staff.
The non-league side enjoyed a great day, were able to celebrate a goal and have pocketed a nice sum of money from this cup run which will help them going forward and we wish them well in doing so.
As for Tranmere, it’s into the hat for the Third Round and the possibility of pairing with Liverpool, Everton, Manchester City, Manchester United or, more likely, Peterborough United!