The romance of the FA Cup rolled into Birkenhead on a bitterly cold Saturday afternoon as Tranmere Rovers faced Oxford City in a pulsating 3-3 draw.
There were plenty of young Rovers in attendance at Prenton Park as a carnival atmosphere was created on FA Cup first round weekend, with the home side desperate to avoid a famous ‘Cupset’.
It took a last-minute equaliser to keep Rovers’ hopes alive, however, as the non-league Oxfordshire side two divisions below them came close to pulling off a shock win.
There was a slow start by Rovers as they were met by a wall of resistance from the visitors, while being caught on the counter attack themselves on a number of occasions.
The breakthrough was finally made by the home team in the 33rd minute when Connor Jennings found the bottom corner of the Oxford goal, but they were pegged back five minutes later when City’s striker Kabongo Tshimanga rounded the goalkeeper before passing the ball into the empty net.
The game roared into life in the closing stages as Tshimanga completed his hat-trick, just after Tranmere had equalised through Jennings’ second of the game.
It was all set for a grand finale and Rovers completed it as star striker James Norwood nodded them level once more, ensuring a replay would be necessary to separate the sides.
Twitter: Nick Ware
The away side @OxCityFC getting clapped off by the home supporters after a fantastic display. Return tie tbc but the FA Cup Second Round draw will be on Monday evening. #FACup @JMUJournalism pic.twitter.com/sdmCCtiorG
— Nick Ware (@Nick_Ware97) November 10, 2018
Tranmere Rovers season ticket holder David Howson, 46, told JMU Journalism: “It was a poor game from us today. We put out a strong team so I was expecting a few goals but not against us.
“In fairness, they played really well considering they are somewhere low in the National League.
“I won’t be able to make the replay in Oxford due to work commitments, but I hope we beat them and get Southport in the next round.”
Oxford City fan Liam Clark, 19, told JMU Journalism he enjoyed his first visit to Prenton Park, saying: ”It’s a great stadium, especially compared to the ones we’re used to in the National League South.
“I wasn’t expecting anything here, so at least now we’ve got a another game at ours and after today I’m confident we can beat them now.
“We’re all going out in Liverpool tonight so that’s put me in a good mood.”
The FA Cup second round draw will take place from 7pm on Monday November 12th, with Tranmere Rovers/Oxford City being number 24 in the pot.