Accrington Stanley’s FA Cup adventure ended at the first hurdle as Ryan Lowe’s 90th minute winner put Tranmere into round two.
Injuries forced James Beattie into making two changes to the side that picked up a point at home to Wycombe last weekend. Lee Naylor replaced Laurie Wilson whilst Kayode Odejayi, who famously scored the winner for Barnsley against Chelsea in the quarter finals of the competition in 2008, came into the starting eleven in place of Danny Webber.
Although the visitors dominated possession in the early stages, it was Stanley who had the first chance as James Gray fired narrowly over the crossbar after collecting Odejayi’s flick-on.
The Nigerian then broke free of the Tranmere defence, getting into a one-on-one with Fon Williams but the Welsh goalkeeper collected the ball as the striker attempted to take it around him for a tap-in on an empty net.
It was one-way traffic with Stanley well on top and Peter Murphy should have opened the scoring but his shot went just past the upright with Fon Williams grasping at thin air following some slick interplay between Gray and Odejayi.
Tranmere had their first effort on goal as Jason Koumas put a free-kick over the bar before Naismith jinked his way into the box and put his shot straight at the goalkeeper with the rebound being volleyed over the top.
The visitors began to threaten with Jason Koumas spraying the ball about in the middle of the park and his pass released Chris Atkinson but Marcus Bettinelli made an excellent stop with his legs to deny the man on loan from Huddersfield.
Ryan Lowe thought he had opened the scoring as he headed home a Koumas corner, but the referee ruled it out for a foul elsewhere in the penalty area so the teams went into the break goalless.
The second half wasn’t as eventful as the action-packed first, but the visiting side started well with full-back Liam Ridehalgh having the first chance but his shot was well over the bar.
At the other end, Gray saw an effort deflected over the bar by Jim McNulty but the corner came to nothing.
In an attempt to win the game, Ronnie Moore changed his system to 4-4-2, taking off midfielder Tom Hateley to bring on Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro just before the hour mark.
James Beattie also shuffled his pack with George Bowerman replacing James Gray as the game ticked into the final ten minutes.
Naylor fizzed the ball right across the face of goal but no Stanley touch to convert the cross was forthcoming and the chance went begging.
Just as it looked like a replay would be needed to try and separate the two sides, Ryan Lowe struck with the last kick of normal time.
Akpa Akpro’s chipped pass found Lowe, who had sprung the offside trap from a static Stanley defence, and the frontman slotted the ball past Bettinelli to give Tranmere a late lead and put them into the round two draw.
Report by Sam Robinson