Tranmere Rovers 1-1 Harrogate Town (7-8 pens): Josh Falkingham keeps his cool as Town win on penalties in Carabao Cup debut
(Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images)

Harrogate Town beat Tranmere Rovers 8-7 on penalties following a 1-1 draw in the first round of the Carabao Cup at Prenton Park.

  • Story of the game


Harrogate Town dominated the first half possession in their first ever EFL Cup game on the Wirral peninsula but despite their best efforts, neither side managed to create a chance of real note during the first 45 minutes.

Corey Blackett-Taylor came close on the 35th minute mark as he managed to fly pass Ryan Fallowfield with a couple of quick stepovers but saw his shot fall wide of the post.

Just past the hour mark, the away side came close from opening the scoring themselves, as Jack Muldoon received the ball in front of goal and curled in effort across the goal but Scotty Davies in net for Tranmere was more than equal to the shot.

Rovers capitalised on Harrogate’s misfortune three minutes later as a disastrous back pass met James Vaughan who danced past Joe Cracknell and tapped home to grab Tranmere’s first goal of the season.

The Super Whites’ lead lasted a mere five minutes before Lloyd Kerry hit a low-driven effort into the bottom left hand corner of Davies’ goal to grab Town’s first ever goal as a Football League club.

That proved to be the last piece of action of the game and for the first time ever, the game entered into a penalty shootout following 90 minutes of Round 1 of the competition.

Tranmere: Vaughan (MISSED), Khan (GOAL), Banks (GOAL), MacDonald (GOAL), Spearing (MISSED), Morris (GOAL), Payne (GOAL), Clarke (GOAL), O’Connor (GOAL), Monthe (MISSED)

Harrogate: Thomson (MISSED), Stead (GOAL), Muldoon (GOAL), Beck (MISSED), Burrell (GOAL), Smith (GOAL), Hall (GOAL), Fallowfield (GOAL), Kerry (GOAL), Falkingham (GOAL)

  • Takeaways from the match


Tranmere not really at the races…

Having felt a sense of injustice following their relegation last season after the early curtailment of the season, you would have thought the players would feel like they had something to prove ahead of the new league season but judging off today’s game, that may not be case.

Rovers looked lazy in possession at times and the Tranmere faithful will be hoping that’s down to pre-season rust more than anything.

Harrogate should be more than safe from the drop…

Weaver’s side held a brilliant shape during what was a tough draw on paper for the Yorkshire-based side and impressed on their football league debut.

Harrogate enter the season as a club with everything to gain following their play-off win last month and I think a few pre-season relegation predictions may have to be changed following this result at Prenton Park.    

  • Man of the Match


Josh Falkingham (Harrogate Town)

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The Leeds-born midfielder was everywhere for Town today and thoroughly deserves the MOTM award in Harrogate’s first ever EFL Cup match.

His leadership and organisation throughout the tie was vital for the newly promoted team and to seal off a terrific performance, the 30-year-old marked his first game in the competition with scoring the winning penalty to earn his side a place in the second round.

  • What's next for Tranmere?


Michael Jackson’s men face Port Vale on Tuesday night in the EFL Trophy, but the Super White Army will really have their sights set on Saturday’s League Two clash with Mansfield Town at Field Mill as they look to start the new season as they ended the previous campaign. Tranmere were in impressive form before the league was curtailed due to the Coronavirus, picking up away wins against the likes of Blackpool, Accrington Stanley and Shrewsbury Town.

  • What's next for Harrogate Town?


Newly promoted Harrogate travel to Grimsby on Tuesday evening in the EFL Trophy before making the long trip to Southend on Saturday for their first ever game in the League Two. The Sulphurites beat Notts County 3-1 at Wembley in the Play-Off Final to earn their league status just 34 days ago.