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TRANMERE ROVERS 2 V MIDDLESBROUGH 1
Worthington Cup Quarter-Final , 14th December 1999

Outside the Wirral few people had heard of Andy Parkinson before he scored the goal of his life against Premiership side Middlesbrough at Prenton Park to take Rovers a step further towards a dream Worthington Cup Final appearance. The most anyone knew was that the pacy winger-cum-striker once played alongside Michael Owen in Liverpool’s youth team, but in the 72nd minute of a pulsating tie ‘Parky’ wrote his name in the stars with a goal that had all the trademarks of Georgie best in his prime. Taking a long throw from keeper John Acterberg - who had replaced the injured Joe Murphy in the 59th minute - in the stride just outside the penalty area, Parkinson sprinted past Christian Ziege as if he had taken root and twisted and turned his way around the retreating Robbie Stockdale (later to play for Rovers), selling him a couple of dummies in the process and coolly slotting the ball under the massive frame of advancing Aussie keeper Mark Schwarzer from the edge of the area just as Robbie Mustoe challenged. From start to finish the move took 7 seconds, box to box. It was the classic counter-attack goal and 1 boss John Aldridge felt worthy of George Best in his hayday. Understandably, Parkinson was mobbed by his teammates but reminded everyone of his name by pointing to it on the rear of his shirt!  Parkinson’s wonder goal doubled Rovers advantage on the night. David Kelly scored Rovers opener 7 minutes before the interval and thereby became the competition’s leading scorer that season. The mercurial Parkinson was again involved whipping in a dangerous in-swinging cross which Kelly met at the near post with a neat volley past Schwarzer. How ironic that just a few minutes earlier Middlesbrough had passed up a fantastic chance to take the initiative when little Brazilian magician Juninho scooped a Brian Deane cross goal wards only for Reuben Hazell to appear from nowhere and bundle the ball to safety. As expected the Premiership side responded to Kelly’s goal by putting Rovers under the cosh early in the 2nd half. Juninho hit the crossbar and Hamilton Richards and former Rovers Steve Vickers both went dangerously close with headers, but just when it seemed their gathering momentum would surly bring and equaliser Parkinson struck to provide a 2 goal cushion. I the final quarter of the game Rovers hearts were in their mouths as Boro put Rovers defenders under non-stop pressure. John Acterberg made several smart stops, and Hazell and Challinor were rocks in the heart of the defence, while the home goal enjoyed more than its share of good fortune. But with 11 minutes left Rovers cracked as Zeige surged forward from left back and squeeze a 20 yard shot under Acterberg to give the visitors renewed hope. It was the first goal Tranmere had conceded in 618 minutes of football at their Prenton Park stronghold. Despite 10 minutes of normal time plus a nerve wrecking 6 minutes of injury time, Middlesbrough could not break down Rovers resistance and John Aldridge’s doughty cup fighters held on to the final whistle to earn a 2 leg Worthington cup semi-final with Bolton Wanderers.

Tranmere: Murphy (Achterberg), Morgan, Challinor, Hazell, Roberts, G. Jones, Henry, Mahon (Allan), Parkinson, Kelly, Taylor.

Middlesbrough: Schwarzer, Stockdale (Campbell), Vickers, Festa, Zeige, O'Neill, Stamp, Mustoe, Juninho, Dean, Richards. 

Referee: David Elleray (Harrow).

Attendance: 10,581.

 

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MOTTO: UBI FIDES IBI LUX ET ROBUR which means "Where there is faith, there is light and strength."

Designed by Ned O'Toole, Paul Harmon and Oisín Ronan.
Special thanks to Tranmere Rovers Football club for the information.
Also to Keith Taberer, Des Ferguson, Joanne Duggan for supplying some of the photos.