Parkinson pounces to delight Tranmere

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The Independent Online

Not even the San Siro, where Leeds go next week, will be tougher than Prenton Park which echoed to the sound of a magnificent Tranmere victory.

Not even the San Siro, where Leeds go next week, will be tougher than Prenton Park which echoed to the sound of a magnificent Tranmere victory.

With 11 unfit players and games against Liverpool and Milan to come, the last thing David O'Leary needed last night was to squander a two-goal lead and lose a Worthington Cup tie in extra time.

As they proved last season when reaching the final - scoring 16 times at home and conceding one goal - Tranmere are difficult opponents in this competition and they will now face either Leicester or Crystal Palace in the next round.

Their recovery was started and finished off by Andy Parkinson, whose speculative 30-yard shot canoned past Paul Robinson in the 119th minute.

Tranmere manager John Aldridge is rumoured to be considering his position after failing to secure what he sees as adequate transfer funds but his two substitutions, one enforced the other inspirational, turned this game.

Compensation for the loss of Des Hamilton, who limped off with an ankle injury, arrived in the hulking shape of Wayne Allison, whose header made the equaliser 15 minutes from time. Gary Kelly stopped it on the line but could not prevent Steve Yates bundling the ball into the net.

Parkinson had been on the field for less than 40 seconds when, standing on the edge of the area, he met a half-clearance with a sweet shot that flew past Robinson. The game was 50 minutes old and suddenly alive.

The first half had been a different matter entirely, dominated by Darren Huckerby, who scored twice. His goals were fashioned from a centre-forward's old-fashioned virtues of speed and strength. The first, in the 25th minute, saw him barge his way past three challenges before turning and belting the ball past Joe Murphy. The second was even more emphatic as he cut in from the left and crashed his drive into the corner of the net.

Leeds might have scored more. The bar denied Erik Bakke who unleashed a venomous shot against it from 30 yards, and the rebound then struck the prostrate Murphy on the back and might easily have gone over the line. As early as the third minute Gareth Roberts turned away Mark Viduka's header on the line.

Tranmere Rovers (3-5-2): Murphy; Yates, Roberts, Challinor; Hill, Hamilton (Allison, 19), Flynn, Hinds, Koumas; S Taylor, Barlow (Parkinson, 50). Substitutes not used: Achterberg (gk), Gill, Hazell.

Leeds United (4-4-2): Robinson; Kelly, Woodgate, Hay (Radebe, 77), Harte; Burns, Bakke, Jones, Matteo; Huckerby (Hackworth, 72; Smith, 105), Viduka. Substitutes not used: Evans, Milosevic (gk).

Referee: R Styles (Waterlooville).

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