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2017/18 National League, Final
  • Bruno Andrade (45'+8')
  • Andy Cook (6')
  • James Norwood (80')
  • Liam Ridehalgh (1')

Tranmere Rovers back in Football League after dramatic playoff victory

James Norwood's late header clinched 10-man Tranmere's return to the Football League after a 2-1 win against Boreham Wood at Wembley.

Tranmere, beaten finalists 12 months ago, played almost all of their Vanarama National League play-off final with 10 men after Liam Ridehalgh was sent off inside the first minute.

Andy Cook headed Tranmere ahead five minutes later and although Boreham Wood hit back through Bruno Andrade in first-half stoppage time, Norwood's header sealed victory for Micky Mellon's side.

Tranmere lost 3-1 to Forest Green in the final last season, but refused to buckle after their early setback and denied Boreham Wood the chance to take a place in the Football League for the first time.

Tranmere were dealt a major blow after just 48 seconds when defender Ridehalgh was shown a straight red card for his two-footed challenge on Boreham Wood's Ricky Shakes.

But Mellon's side were undeterred and took the lead five minutes later. Norwood dinked in an excellent cross from the left and strike partner Cook leapt above his marker to power home an unstoppable header.

Mellon made a tactical switch soon after, replacing winger Larnell Cole with teenage defender Eddie Clarke, before Boreham Wood threatened for the first time.

Andrade's shot after a mazy run into the penalty area was deflected wide and David Stephens' header from the resulting corner was blocked.

Boreham Wood, who beat AFC Fylde and Sutton earlier in the play-offs after finishing fourth in the table, went in search of an equaliser, but on-loan Watford forward Michael Folivi's shot was comfortably saved by Tranmere goalkeeper Scott Davies.

Mellon sacrificed his other winger, Josh Ginnelly, when sending on Connor Jennings just after the half-hour mark and was then forced to field his last remaining substitute before the interval.

Rovers defender Richie Sutton went off injured in first-half stoppage time and was replaced by Jay Harris.

It appeared Boreham Wood would be left frustrated at the break, but in the eighth minute of stoppage time Andrade hauled them level, firing home from inside the area following Shakes' cut-back.

Tranmere came out fired up for the second half. Jennings' effort was brilliantly saved by Boreham Wood goalkeeper Grant Smith and Cook's follow-up was deflected for a corner.

Davies then raced off his line at the other end to thwart Danny Woodards as Boreham Wood countered and soon after tipped away Andrade's curling free-kick at his near post.

Clear-cut chances were hard to come by as both sides tired, but with 10 minutes left Jennings beat his man out wide and his fine cross was headed home by Norwood to leave Boreham Wood crestfallen.

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