EFL Reporter @simgholam
Newport 0-1 Tranmere (AET): Last-gasp Connor Jennings strike earns promotion for Rovers
Tranmere move up to Sky Bet League One with back-to-back promotions through the play-offs
Last Updated: 26/05/19 7:48am
Connor Jennings scored a last-gasp extra-time winner to fire Tranmere to victory in the Sky Bet League Two play-off final against Newport.
The midfielder struck in the 119th minute at Wembley with a header at the far post to finally break the resistance of their 10-man opposition, who had captain Mark O'Brien sent off just before extra-time.
It means Tranmere have earned back-to-back promotions through the play-offs, having returned to the Football League only last year with a victory at the national stadium. They will play in League One next season for the first time since 2014, while Newport's wait for a return to the third tier for the first time since 1987, before their reformation, goes on.
Both sides were unchanged from the second legs of their semi-finals.
Tranmere nick promotion at the last
James Norwood had scored 32 goals for Tranmere this season heading into the game at Wembley, and his first chance for a 33rd fell to him after 25 minutes, but his well-struck volley from 12 yards was palmed away by Joe Day.
From there the game continued to be nervy, with both teams too frightened to really attack. It took until the the 74th minute for the next genuine opening, which went Newport's way, as Dan Butler's brilliant cross found Jamille Matt at the back post, but his header was kept out by a brilliant instinctive save from Scott Davies, who parried onto the post before bundling the ball clear.
Newport: Day (7), Poole (7), O'Brien (7), Demetriou (7), Butler (7), Bennett (6), Sheehan (6), Labadie (6), Amond (5), Matt (7), Willmott (6)
Subs: Dolan (6), Bakinson (n/a), Azeez (n/a), Marsh-Brown (n/a)
Tranmere: Davies (7), Caprice (7), Nelson (7), Monthe (7), Ridehalgh (7), Banks (7), Morris (6), Harris (6), Perkins (6), Jennings (7), Norwood (7)
Subs: Pringle (6), McNulty (n/a), Buxton (n/a)
Man of the match: Connor Jennings
Matt was involved again in the 85th minute as he controlled the ball in the box before being brought down by Emmanuel Monthe while trying to pass to O'Brien. The flag then went up on the Newport defender for offside, but somewhat controversially, no penalty was given for the foul.
Just a few minutes later, the tie twisted in Tranmere's favour as O'Brien picked up an unnecessary second yellow card for a shirt pull on Norwood when the striker tried to break clear into the Newport half.
Even with the man advantage, Tranmere struggled to created chances in extra-time. But finally they found their way through with a minute left to play as Jake Caprice's cross found its way to Jennings, who found space in the box to head the winner.
Man of the match - Connor Jennings
In a game where both sides seemed too nervous for most of the game to really open up and attack, it was always going to take one moment to define it. That moment came almost as late as it could have done, as Jennings found space in the box to win it for his side.
Michael Flynn: "I'm devastated for the players - they've given me their all. I want to congratulate Tranmere, they've had a very good season. But, it's a common occurrence where big errors are happening.
"This is a play-off final - you need better referees. They want improvements in football so why isn't VAR being used? They've got the facilities. It's a stonewall penalty if I've ever seen one. It's not good enough. That would have been game over."
Micky Mellon: "That's what it's all about. Let's give credit to both sets of players, Newport kept fighting and it was a really tough game at this stage of the season. They kept going and going and going and we are just pleased we came out at the end.
"We are only here to try and get the best out of the players. They gave me everything they had and I'm absolutely delighted."
Tranmere will play in Sky Bet League One next season while Newport will remain in League Two for the 2019/20 season, which gets underway over the weekend of 2-4 August.