Amazing Tranmere produced a second half miracle to fight back from 3-0 down and earn an improbable replay against Premier League Watford in an incredible FA Cup Third Round match at Vicarage Road.

Tom Dele-Bashiru, Roberto Pereyra and Nathaniel Chalobah gave the Hornets a seemingly unrecoverable 3-0 half time lead, but goals from Connor Jennings, Manny Monthe and a late Paul Mullin penalty pulled the score back to 3-3 and now the two teams must do it all over again at Prenton Park.

Significantly, VAR reviews were required on two of Tranmere’s goals, technology that was only in use because the match was played in a Premier League ground.

Micky Mellon made three changes to the side that suffered a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Coventry City last time out, reverting to a central defensive back three and handing new signing Peter Clarke his debut in the middle of it.

Fit-again Monthe returned alongside him and with Jake Caprice and Kieron Morris deployed as wing-backs, defenders George Ray and Callum Woods dropped to the bench.

They were joined there by Corey Blackett-Taylor, who made way for Stefan Payne in a two-pronged attack alongside Morgan Ferrier.

With Premier League survival clearly prioritised, the hosts rested a number of key players, including talisman Troy Deeney and top scorer Gerard Deulofeu.

Having conceded so many early goals of late, Rovers kept things pleasingly tight for the first 10 minutes, but that soon changed in the following four-minute spell that ensued. 

The Hornets took the lead when Tranmere were too slow to close down Dele-Bashiru on the edge of the box, allowing him to flash a 25-yarder past the outstretched Aaron Chapman into the net.

The advantage was quickly doubled when Clarke played a loose pass to Monthe on the edge of his own six-yard box allowing the ball to be played back to Chalobah, who gleefully converted the chance.

Shell-shocked Rovers struggled to compose themselves, as shots from Domingos Quina and then Chalobah flew over the bar.

Half an hour passed before the visitors earned their first corner, but it wasn’t long before Watford extended their lead further.

Isaac Success fed a pass into the box for Andre Gray, who pushed it further on for Pereyra to side-foot the ball home. Easy as you like.

A drilled effort from distance by centre-back Monthe deflected wide for another corner, as Mellon’s team tried desperately to get something out of the first half. 

Conner Jennings tried a curler from the edge of the box but it was comfortable for Daniel Bachmann, diving to his left.

Just before halftime, Wembley-winner Jennings had another similar chance on the break, but he could only yield the same result.

Unsurprisingly, Mellon opted to make a couple of changes at halftime, bringing on Woods and Blackett-Taylor for Nelson and Payne respectively.

The hosts came close to further extending their lead when substitute Joao Pedro pulled a deflected shot wide before Adrian Mariappa fired over from the resultant corner.

Rovers had managed to build up a bit of a spell of pressure, forcing a free kick and couple of corners but the game’s key turning point arrived with just under 25 minutes to play.

As Jennings headed home a Blackett-Taylor cross from close range, Tranmere’s players were incandescent to see the referee’s assistant rule it out for offside.

But with VAR in operation for this match, the incident went to review, where it was overturned, allowing Jennings’ goal to stand.

“VAR! VAR!” chanted the away supporters, in bizarre scenes you simply wouldn’t expect to see.

With their tails – and the volume – cranked up, Rovers came again.

This time Bachmann had to be at full stretch to tip a flicked effort from Jennings over the bar for a corner.

With 12 minutes left, remarkably Rovers scored again, when Bachmann dropped Blackett-Taylor’s corner and Monthe turned in the box like a centre forward and hooked the ball home.

The 2,700-strong Super White Army went berserk behind the goal raising the roof in the process and setting up a grandstand finish. 

With the hardworking Ferrier tiring, Mellon threw on Mullin as the League One side threw everything they had at Watford for the finale.

And with three of the 90 minutes remaining, a game of gripping drama reached its climax when Tranmere were awarded a penalty in sensational circumstances. 

When substitute Mason Barrett challenged Blackett-Taylor just inside the box, referee Graham Scott simply awarded Rovers a corner.

But with another VAR review immediately raised, it was clear that Mason had taken the legs of his man and not the ball.

Decision overturned. Penalty to Tranmere!

Mullin stepped up to take the spot kick and showed nerves of steel to smash the ball past Bachmann, levelling the match and sparking wild scenes of euphoria behind the goal.

Still the drama wasn’t over. In the 89th minute Watford’s Pereyra was shown a straight red card for elbowing Morris.

When the fourth official raised his board to indicate six minutes of time added on, there was a feeling that another goal was still going to materialise.

The Hornets had a golden opportunity to take it in injury time after they were awarded a free kick in a very dangerous area on the edge of the Rovers box, but Joao Pedro could only float it harmlessly over the bar.

Then, with seconds remaining, Neil Danns – who had put in a barnstorming shift all afternoon – broke into the penalty area and tried to pick out a teammate for the winner, but he couldn’t find his man, allowing the referee to conclude what had been the most amazing match of Tranmere’s season and one that will live long in the memory of the FA Cup.

Match stats

Watford 3

Dele-Bashiru 12, Chalobah 14, Pereyra 34

Tranmere Rovers 3

Jennings 65, Monthe 78, Mullin 87 (pen)

Half time: 3-0

Referee: Graham Scott

Attendance: 14,373

Star man: Neil Danns (Tranmere midfielder)

Match rating: 5/5

Watford team (4-3-3): Bachmann, Dawson, Mariappa, Masina, Chalobah (Pedro 46), Gray, Quina (Whelan 61), Success, Dele-Bashiru, Pereyra, Spencer-Adams (Barrett 77)

Watford subs: Parkes, Sarr, Dalby, Hungbo

Tranmere team (3-5-2): Chapman, Nelson (Woods 46), Clarke, Monthe, Caprice, Danns, Perkins, Jennings, Morris, Payne (Blackett-Taylor 46), Ferrier (Mullin 81)

Tranmere subs: Pilling, Ray, Gilmour, Walker-Rice