Tranmere Rovers 1, Forest Green Rovers 0

TRANMERE will take a slender advantage into the League Two play-off semi-final second leg on Monday night, after a goal line technology helped to secure a 1-0 victory over 10-man Forest Green at Prenton Park.

Ollie Banks' 26th minute piledriver cannoned off the underside of the crossbar and bounced back out but referee John Busby received notification that the ball had crossed the line and awarded the goal.

The visitors had Gavin Gunning sent off early on for kicking out at Jay Harris, but despite their numerical disadvantage, Mark Cooper's side defended resolutely in the second half to keep themselves in the tie.

Having rested various individuals for the last game of the regular season at Crawley Town, Micky Mellon made no fewer than seven changes.

Only Manny Monthe retained his place in the back four, with Jake Caprice, Sid Nelson and Liam Ridehalgh replacing Adam Buxton, captain Steve McNulty and Zoumana Bakayogo respectively.

It was a similar tale in midfield, where influential veteran David Perkins was the only survivor.

Banks, Jay Harris, Kieron Morris and Connor Jennings completing the quintet.

Attacking the Cowsheds, the first opportunity of the match fell to the hosts, when Norwood found himself in space on the edge of the Dee, but with Harris running through for a simple pass, the League Two player of the Year elected to shoot, only to see his effort blocked.

Just past the quarter of an hour mark, Forest Green were reduced to ten men when Harris fouled Gunning, who reacted by kicking out at the Tranmere midfielder.

Referee John Busby was having none of it and showed Gunning a straight red.

With the numerical advantage, the Whites went on the attack.

Harris won the ball on the edge of the Forest Green box and tried his luck but his shot was blocked by Nathan McGinley.

When Tranmere took the lead in the 26th minute the goal was not only memorable but historic.

As Banks unleashed an unstoppable 25-yard strike that cannoned off the underside of the cross bar and bounced back out, the midfielder became the first player ever to score at Prenton Park thanks to the use of goal line technology.

Five minutes later, Norwood missed a golden opportunity to double the home team’s advantage, blazing over at the far post.

Morris was next to try his luck, cutting inside before shooting, but McGinley was there to make another crucial block for the Green Devils.

In first half injury time a deep cross from Caprice was met by Norwood at the far post, but on the stretch, he could only poke it wide.

The two combined once more before the break, but this time a cutback was side-footed over by the Rovers striker.

Early in the second half, Christian Doidge wanted a penalty when he went ground in the box under pressure from Monthe, but the referee waved his claims away.

The enraged Forest Green striker was then lucky to stay on the pitch, as moments later he stuck a sneaky elbow in the face of goal scorer Banks that went unspotted by the officials.

Unsurprisingly, Tranmere were showing the greater attacking intent.

A cross from Ridehalgh was headed wide by Norwood before Morris made way on 62 minutes for winger Jonny Smith.

Encouraged by the Kop, Monthe tried his luck from 30 yards but could only succeed in sticking the ball 20 rows into the stand.

The hosts pushed hard for a winner in the closing stages.

Caprice saw one effort saved by Lewis Ward as the ball was scrambled to safety before Norwood forced another good reaction out of the Forest Green stopper.

Substitute George Williams tried to buy the Green Devils a penalty but his claims fell on deaf ears.

Tranmere pressed hard to double their advantage in the closing stages but found their dogged opponents in no mood to give an inch.

The two sides will meet again on Monday night at the New Lawn, with the Birkenhead Rovers holding the upper hand, but only just.

Micky Mellon said: "You want to come out of that first two halves of football making sure hopefully that you’ve got some sort of advantage going into the second one. Whether it’s home or away it doesn’t matter.

"You need to probably to come out of it with something.

"We got that goal – fantastic goal wasn’t it – just couldn’t get the second against a team that decided that they were going to play five, three and one up top.

"They sat in there and made it very difficult. They’ve got a lot of big units. It’s difficult to find space in and around there.

"There’s loads of things that we could say that we would like to be better at but certainly going into the second leg with an advantage we’ve got to be pleased.

"Ollie Banks got us a goal. Let's be clear about that.

"It's a fantastic strike. All that goal line technology did was confirm it."

Match stats:

Tranmere Rovers 1 (Banks 26)

Forest Green Rovers 0

Half time: 1-0

Referee: John Busby

Attendance: 9,579

Star man: Jay Harris (Tranmere midfielder)

Match rating: 3/5

Tranmere team (4-5-1): Davies, Caprice, Nelson, Monthe, Ridehalgh, Morris (Smith 62), Harris, Banks (Gilmour 76), Perkins, Jennings, Norwood Tranmere subs: Pilling, Buxton, McNulty, Pringle, Dagnall

Forest Green (4-5-1): Ward, Shephard, Rawson, Winchester, Grubb (Williams 65), Doidge, Brown (Digby 88), Gunning, McGinley, Mills, Mondal (Collins 32) Forest Green subs: Montgomery, James, McCoulsky, Godwin-Malife.