Football / Coca-Cola Cup: Tranmere thwarted by Gemmill's walk-in part: Forest rally to secure replay

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Nottingham Forest. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

Tranmere Rovers. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

SO Merseyside has a cup tie to savour after all on Saturday. While Liverpool and Everton lick their wounds, Tranmere will receive Nottingham Forest in a Coca-Cola Cup fifth round replay at Prenton Park, with a two-leg semi-final against Aston Villa awaiting the winners.

Despite the fact that Forest completed a First Division double over them less than a fortnight ago, Tranmere may be regarded as slight favourites after their accomplished performance at the City Ground last night. They deserved the lead secured by Chris Malkin's eighth goal of the season shortly after half-time and withstood the pressure that followed Scot Gemmill's 75th-minute reply without serious discomfort.

Forest will be anxious to have Stan Collymore, who was out with a hamstring injury, back in attack on Saturday. Without their top scorer, they were often reduced to shooting from long range.

The home side could, however, point to two instances when the woodwork intervened on Eric Nixon's side. The first came after 34 minutes dominated by the visitors, when David Phillips's low drive clipped Ged Brannan and wrong- footed the keeper. But Collymore's deputy, Lee Glover, reacted too slowly as the ball came out off a post.

The second arrived with 23 minutes left when, with Forest toiling for an equaliser, Colin Cooper's header kissed the crossbar. But they were exceptions to Tranmere's rule, manifested in the early stages by a John Aldridge header which Mark Crossley tipped over at full stretch.

Forest responded with a header by Glover which Nixon pushed behind, but Tranmere's more positive approach was rewarded in the 51st minute. John Morrissey's corner was helped on by Mark Hughes and Brannan before an instinctive back- heel by Aldridge gave Malkin an unmissable chance by the far post.

Villa's spies must have been concentrating increasingly on Rovers, as Crossley again denied Aldridge and Pat Nevin carved Forest open only to stumble in the act of shooting.

Their wastefulness was punished as Forest, finding inspiration in the appearance of Neil Webb, drew level. An incisive one-two between Ian Woan and Gemmill allowed the latter to round Nixon and walk the ball home for his third goal in as many matches against Tranmere.

Nottingham Forest (4-4-2): Crossley; Lyttle, Cooper, Chettle, Pearce; Stone (Black, 87), Phillips, Gemmill, Woan; Bull (Webb, 74), Glover. Substitute not used: Wright (gk)

Tranmere Rovers (4-4-2): Nixon; Thomas, Higgins, Hughes, Nolan; Morrissey, O'Brien, Brannan, Nevin (Irons, 85); Aldridge, Malkin. Substitutes not used: Mungall, Coyne (gk).

Referee: G Ashby (Worcester).