Tranmere Rovers 0, Manchester City U21s 1

TRANMERE'S participation in the Checkatrade Trophy is over after they were defeated by Manchester City Under 21s at Prenton Park.

Having lost both of their opening group stage matches, Rovers were already eliminated and a second-half Rabbi Matondo goal ensured they exited the unpopular competition without a point to show for their troubles.

With their fate already sealed, Micky Mellon made ten changes to the side that battered Crawley Town here on Saturday.

Only Adam Buxton retained his place in the first XI, affording starts to the likes of out-of-favour Ben Tollitt and fit-again Zoumana Bakayogo.

It was Tollitt who provided the first moment of action six minutes in, when he crossed from the left for Franklyn Akammadu, but his bullet header flashed past the wrong side of the post.

Akammadu almost got in again on the quarter of an hour mark when he poked a near post effort into the hands of Daniel Grimshaw.

City responded when Matondo bent a wicked shot just wide of the goal from 20 yards out.

When Nabil Touaizi went around Shamel George he looked certain to give City the lead but he was denied on the line by Ritchie Sutton.

Felix Nmecha then found himself put through on goal but this time the young 'keeper – on loan from Liverpool – produced an excellent save.

Rovers had to work hard to keep City's young talents at bay, but despite a couple of hairy moments they were good value for their shut out at half-time.

George was called immediately into action after the restart, repelling a fierce drive from Adrian Bernabe.

The visitors took the lead when they exploited a large gap behind Buxton at right back.

George rushed out to try and clear the danger but he was beaten to it by Matondo who stroked it into the net.

With confidence renewed, City started to play with more positivity and energy, knocking the ball around quickly.

Ian Carlo Poveda was unlucky not to double the Sky Blues' advantage when he struck the base of the post.

George then denied Bernabe before Nabil Touaizi blazed the rebound over.

George made a more routine save from Nmecha as Rovers struggled to get the ball out of their own half.

He was called into action again to deny Poveda, who had also pulled another effort wide, before substitute Tom Dele-Bashiru side-footed wide when he looked certain to score.

Tranmere's goal continued to live a charmed life but at no point did Mellon's side give up the ghost.

If Rovers' disappointment at defeat was felt by the players, then it certainly wasn't shared by the fans.

Only 747 turned up, sending a clear message that the Super White Army has no regard for a competition that includes invited Premier League youth teams.

How long the EFL continues to persist with this deeply unpopular format remains to be seen.

Micky Mellon said: "I'm pleased in terms of the way the group of players performed.

"The Shrewsbury game – I was disappointed with that one, because we had as much experience out there.

"We had a lot of young players out there today who I believe gave a good account of themselves, so it was good.

"We got Zoom (Bakayogo) through 90 minutes which was important and we got young Evan (Gumbs) on. They're all positives.

"The most important thing was, I felt it was worthwhile for the boys that took part. I was really disappointed with the Shrewsbury performance, but today, much much better in terms of what we are trying to achieve here from the entire group at Tranmere."

Match stats:

Tranmere team: George, Buxton (Caprice 81), Sutton, Ellis, Bakayogo, Tollitt, Harris, Smith, (Williams 61), Mottley-Henry, Gilmour, Akammadu (81 Gumbs).