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Dave Woods reports
"Tranmere will be favourites to reach the final after a deserved win"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 12 January, 2000, 22:00 GMT
Hill scales the heights

Hill celebrates a more satisfactory cup contribution


Bolton 0-1 Tranmere

Clint Hill scored the goal which gives Rovers a great chance of climbing the mountain to their first major Wembley final.

In doing so the Tranmere man turned from villain to hero, since he was the man sent off before the now infamous 11-man controversy against Sunderland last Saturday.


Worthington Cup semi-final draw
Aston Villa v Leicester - 1st Leg Jan 25, 2nd Leg Feb 1
Tranmere v Bolton - 2nd leg Jan 26
The officials were blamed for that mistake, with Rovers escaping any action over the confusion, and Hill's contribution to this game now appears far more significant for their season.

His 22nd-minute goal in the first leg of this Worthington Cup semi-final means Tranmere take a crucial lead back to Prenton Park for the second leg, and leaves Bolton now needing to scale similar heights on the Wirral.


Johansen and Hill battle away
The tempo was set for the first period after just 12 seconds when Andy Parkinson raced clear down the right flank for Tranmere.

But his team-mates had failed to keep track and the chance disappeared with Bolton still arranging themselves.

Alan Mahon had the ball in the net for the visitors after 11 minutes, but he was wrongly flagged for offside.

He and a colleague both ran from positions at least two yards behind Bolton's last defender, before Mahon finished.

But the linesman had put his flag up, and the home side had enjoyed an early escape.

Within two minutes Bolton hit the post after a great save from John Achterberg in the Tranmere goal.

Michael Johansen received the ball in space just inside the Tranmere area on Bolton's right.


Bolton keeper Banks punches as Kelly threatens
Achterberg got a hand to the Dane's shot, which still had enough power to crash against the post and somehow bounce clear.

Tranmere then struck the woodwork after 18 minutes, when David Kelly got a head to one of Dave Challinor's trademark long range throws.

Four minutes later the visitors did go ahead, thanks to another set piece move.

Alan Mahon had forced Bolton keeper Steve Banks into a diving save, and from the resulting corner Alan Morgan found Gary Jones at the near post, and his flick was poked home at the back post by Hill.

Until this point Tranmere had looked the better side, and it took Bolton a while to apply some pressure.

Eidur Gudjohnsen almost set Claus Jensen clear 10 minutes before the break but the linesman eventually raised a flag for offside.

Jensen also fired over the bar in injury time after a neat one-two with Johansen.

Holdsworth on

Bolton made a change after the break with Dean Holdsworth replacing Bo Hansen.

Eidur Gudjohnsen wasted an opportunity for the home side after Challinor gifted him the ball.

But Tranmere were still proving the better side and Andy Parkinson had a penalty claim turned down after 57 minutes when John O'Kane appeared to pull him down.

The latter stages saw Tranmere wasting a couple of superb opportunities on the break.

The home side finally pushed forward more convinvingly in the final ten minutes.

Holdsworth fired against a post before Gudjohnsen had a header brilliantly saved by Achterberg.

But the visitors' hard work ensured they hung on to the advantage at the midway stage of this battle to reach the Twin Towers.

Teams:

Bolton: Banks, Whitlow, Bergsson, O'Kane, Ritchie, Johansen, Jensen, Passi, Gardner, Hansen, Gudjohnsen. Subs: Jaaskelainen, Taylor, Holdsworth, Warhurst, Holden.

Tranmere: Achterberg, Challinor, Hill, Roberts, Yates, Morgan, Parkinson, Mahon, Jones, Kelly, Taylor. Subs: Nixon, Frail, Hazell, Black, Thompson.

Referee: G Barber (Tring, Herts)

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See also:
12 Jan 00 |  Football
Tranmere ref faces FA grilling
10 Jan 00 |  Football
Tranmere cup victory stands
11 Jan 00 |  Football
Shock teams return to semis
Links to other Football stories are at the foot of the page.