TRANMERE ROVERS 3, OLDHAM ATHLETIC 2
Oldham Athletic blew a two-goal lead as they lost at Tranmere Rovers in Group B of the Papa John’s Trophy.
Zak Dearnley’s first-half double put Latics in a great position only for Tranmere to produce a stirring fightback.
But despite losing two of their three group games – they only beat Salford City – Latics are still through to the last 32 of the competition.
Tranmere topped the group ahead of the game and victory for the hosts means they progressed as group winners. Having finished with an identical record to Salford, Latics progress by virtue of their head-to-head result.
Head coach Keith Curle made four changes from the Emirates FA Cup draw at Ipswich, including a first start since August for Nicky Adams following his recovery from a hamstring injury.
It looked good for Latics when Dearnley opened his account after 15 minutes, showing great composure to apply a measured finish as he stroked the ball past Joe Murphy having been played clear by a measured pass from Davis Keillor-Dunn.
Tranmere started the sharper but once ahead Latics proceeded to take control, Keillor-Dunn’s 20-yard effort taking a deflection wide, while Carl Piergianni fired over.
Nicky Maynard had two early chances for the home side, who then saw Kieron Morris clear the crossbar with a free kick.
But it was Latics who continued to be a threat, Benny Couto lining up a fine first-time strike after a sweeping cross-field pass from Adams, only for the shot to be diverted wide.
Dearnley added his second late in the first half to finish a sweeping Latics move, Keillor-Dunn releasing Adams, whose brilliant cross from the right was converted by the forward’s bullet header.
Paul Glaztel nodded in cross from Ryan Stratulis to halve the lead in first-half stoppage time, and although Dearnley and Piergianni had chances at the start of the second period, the home side drew level after 55 minutes.
Maynard restored parity with an angled finish after receiving a pass from Glatzel, as the momentum turned in favour of the home side.
There were still chances for Dylan Bahamboula and Adams, both of whom were denied by goalkeeper Murphy, but with Tranmere in the ascendancy they secured the win after 75 minutes, Glatzel adding his second from inside the area.
Oldham Athletic: Leutwiler, Clarke (Whelan 46), McGahey, Piergianni, Adams (Fage 63), Keillor-Dunn (Hope 63), Couto, Bahamboula, Dearnley, Bettache, Diarra. Subs (unused): Southerington, Bowden, Da Silva, Modi.
Goals: Glatzal (45+2), 75), Maynard (55) for Tranmere Rovers. Zak Dearnley (15, 43) for Oldham Athletic.
Attendance: 1.405 (125 visitors).