Rovers pay the penalty
By Peter ORourke
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Hartlepool beat Tranmere on penalties to reach the League One play-off final.Hartlepool booked their place in the League One play-off final with a dramatic penalty shoot-out win over Tranmere.
Ritchie Humphreys hit the crucial winning penalty to give Hartlepool a 6-5 sudden death soot-out win after Ian Sharps had missed for Tranmere.
Trailing 2-0 from the first leg Tranmere produced a stirring comeback to force the game into extra time thanks to second half goals from Ryan Taylor and David Beresford.
Neither side could find a winner in extra time and the game was forced into a dreaded penalty shoot-out
Tranmere came close to breaking the deadlock on 12 minutes when Iain Hume rattled the crossbar after the ball broke nicely to him inside the box.
Two minutes later Eugene Dadi headed Gareth Roberts's cross just wide of the target as Tranmere began to build up some pressure on the Hartlepool goal.
The home side suffered a major blow on 20 minutes when Jason McAteer was forced off with a head injury he picked up earlier in the game much to the disappointment of the former Liverpool star.
Dadi forced Dimitrios Konstantopoulos into a good save on 24 minutes with a neat turn and shot inside the box.
Konstantopoulos denied Tranmere the goal they were desperately looking for right on the stroke of half time with a superb save to keep out Ian Goodison's header.
Tranmere picked up in the second half where they left off in the first half with Harrison blazing over the top four minutes after the break from the edge of the area.
Harrison went close to scoring on the hour mark with a header that Konstantopoulos clawed off the line.
Tranmere got the breakthrough they deserved on 70 minutes when Ryan Taylor saw his free kick from the edge of the area hit the post and then come off Konstantopoulos before crossing the line.
The home laid siege to the Hartlepool goal and Dadi was inches away from scoring on 76 minutes with a header from Beresford's cross falling just wide of the far post.
Tranmere drew the tie level with the second goal three minutes from time with Beresford curling home a superb shot on the edge of the box to force the game into extra time.Tranmere continued to call the tune in extra time with Dadi, Taylor and Harrison all going close to scoring.
Hume came close to grabbing a winner eight minutes from the end of extra time with a volley which Konstantopoulos at full stretch did well to keep out.
Hartlepool tried to rally and Antony Sweeney saw a goalbound shot blocked four minutes from the end of extra time and when the rebound fell to Ritchie Humphreys he fizzed his shot just wide of the target.
The visitors had claims for a penalty rejected seconds from the end when Sweeney went down in the box under a challenge from Michael Jackson, but their appeals were waved away and the game went down to the lottery of penalties.
After the shoot-out went into sudden death Sharps missed his spot kick allowing Humphreys the chance to score the winning penalty and set up a meeting with former club Sheffield Wednesday in the final later this month.