Tranmere Rovers moved to within one win of achieving back-to-back promotions as they overcame 10-man Forest Green Rovers to reach the League Two play-off final.

Micky Mellon’s side, who went up through the National League play-offs last term, will face Newport County at Wembley on Saturday, 25 May for a place in the third tier.

Leading 1-0 from Friday’s first leg, Tranmere were initially pegged back at The New Lawn as Joseph Mills headed in for the Gloucestershire club.

But a well-taken volley from the division’s top scorer James Norwood against his old club quickly put Tranmere level in the second leg and restored their lead in the tie.

The hosts’ Carl Winchester was shown a controversial second yellow card with 23 minutes remaining and the 10 men could not find a goal to force extra time.

The result ensured Mellon’s team will be going to Wembley for the third year in a row.

Tranmere are bidding to return to League One for the first time since their relegation in 2014, which was followed by another relegation and then three years in non-league.

Forest Green are now set for a third straight term in the fourth tier, having reached the English Football League for the first time with a win over Tranmere in 2017’s National League promotion final.

An extra man for about 100 minutes

Tranmere had the advantage of an extra man for about 100 minutes over the two games, with Gavin Gunning shown a straight red card early in the first leg and then Winchester’s second-half dismissal on Monday.

Yet the hosts – who have been named as the greenest football club in the world – gave themselves real hope when Junior Mondal’s inswinging free-kick from the right flank was nodded home by former Perth Glory left-back Mills.

But Norwood – who missed numerous chances in the first leg at Prenton Park – restored Tranmere’s advantage after David Perkins’ clipped ball forward was knocked into his path by Kieron Morris’ guided header.

Just a point had separated Tranmere and Forest Green in the League Two table, with Mark Cooper’s side winning both of the league meetings between the two this term.

But Tranmere and Newport’s progression means the teams that finished the regular season in sixth and seventh respectively have reach 25 May’s decider, having both eliminated sides that finished closer to the automatic promotion places.

Wirral-based Premier League referee Mike Dean – a Tranmere fan – was among the travelling supporters at The New Lawn, enjoying the moment as Mellon’s men celebrated a third play-off semi-final victory in as many seasons.

Line-ups

Forest Green

  • 34Ward
  • 2Shephard
  • 6Rawson
  • 19McGinley
  • 23Mills
  • 7WinchesterBooked at 67mins
  • 5CollinsSubstituted forMcCoulskyat 81′minutes
  • 25MondalSubstituted forWilliamsat 45′minutes
  • 10Brown
  • 8GrubbSubstituted forJamesat 70′minutes
  • 9Doidge

Substitutes

  • 4James
  • 11Williams
  • 13Montgomery
  • 17Pearce
  • 20Digby
  • 21McCoulsky
  • 22Godwin-Malife

Tranmere

  • 1Davies
  • 14Caprice
  • 4Nelson
  • 6Monthe
  • 3Ridehalgh
  • 28BanksBooked at 16mins
  • 19MorrisSubstituted forGilmourat 66′minutes
  • 8Harris
  • 17Perkins
  • 11Jennings
  • 10Norwood

Substitutes

  • 2Buxton
  • 5McNulty
  • 9Mullin
  • 18Smith
  • 22Gilmour
  • 25Pilling
  • 29Dagnall
Referee:
Eddie Ilderton
Attendance:
4,492

Match Stats

Home TeamForest GreenAway TeamTranmere
Possession
Home49%
Away51%
Shots
Home6
Away12
Shots on Target
Home2
Away3
Corners
Home4
Away3
Fouls
Home12
Away10

Live Text

Match ends, Forest Green Rovers 1, Tranmere Rovers 1.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Forest Green Rovers 1, Tranmere Rovers 1.

Foul by Christian Doidge (Forest Green Rovers).

Oliver Banks (Tranmere Rovers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Joseph Mills (Forest Green Rovers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by James Norwood (Tranmere Rovers).

Foul by Christian Doidge (Forest Green Rovers).

Oliver Banks (Tranmere Rovers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Hand ball by David Perkins (Tranmere Rovers).

George Williams (Forest Green Rovers) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by David Perkins (Tranmere Rovers).

Foul by Shawn McCoulsky (Forest Green Rovers).

Liam Ridehalgh (Tranmere Rovers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt missed. Jay Harris (Tranmere Rovers) right footed shot from the right side of the box misses to the right.

Offside, Forest Green Rovers. Nathan McGinley tries a through ball, but Shawn McCoulsky is caught offside.

Attempt missed. James Norwood (Tranmere Rovers) right footed shot from the left side of the box is close, but misses the top right corner. Assisted by Oliver Banks following a fast break.

Lloyd James (Forest Green Rovers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Jay Harris (Tranmere Rovers).

Substitution

Substitution, Forest Green Rovers. Shawn McCoulsky replaces Lee Collins.

Corner, Forest Green Rovers. Conceded by Jake Caprice.

Attempt saved. Connor Jennings (Tranmere Rovers) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by David Perkins.

Attempt blocked. James Norwood (Tranmere Rovers) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by David Perkins with a headed pass.

Attempt missed. Liam Ridehalgh (Tranmere Rovers) left footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Connor Jennings.

Offside, Tranmere Rovers. David Perkins tries a through ball, but Liam Ridehalgh is caught offside.

Corner, Tranmere Rovers. Conceded by Nathan McGinley.

Hand ball by Joseph Mills (Forest Green Rovers).

Attempt missed. Reece Brown (Forest Green Rovers) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by George Williams with a headed pass.

Foul by George Williams (Forest Green Rovers).

Emmanuel Monthe (Tranmere Rovers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Substitution

Substitution, Forest Green Rovers. Lloyd James replaces Dayle Grubb.

Nathan McGinley (Forest Green Rovers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by James Norwood (Tranmere Rovers).

Dismissal

Second yellow card to Carl Winchester (Forest Green Rovers) for a bad foul.

Foul by Carl Winchester (Forest Green Rovers).

James Norwood (Tranmere Rovers) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Substitution

Substitution, Tranmere Rovers. Harvey Gilmour replaces Kieron Morris.

Attempt missed. Kieron Morris (Tranmere Rovers) left footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses the top left corner.

Attempt missed. Carl Winchester (Forest Green Rovers) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the right. Assisted by Joseph Mills.

Nathan McGinley (Forest Green Rovers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Jay Harris (Tranmere Rovers).