Former Silkman Connor Jennings fired the visitors ahead in the 32nd minute with a long-range shot flashing past Kieran O’Hara and inside the post. It should have been a greater lead with O’Hara thwarting James Norwood and Jonathan Smith, while Mark Ellis heading wide at a set-piece. And the hosts finally picked their way through the Tranmere defence to level moments before the break, with Koby Arthur slotting in after a smart passing move.
The onslaught continued after the interval, sparked by Norwood effort which was fired narrowly over from a tight angle. O’Hara had a helping hand from defender Fiacre Kelleher, who dived to nod James Harris’ goalbound drive to safety. But the visitors failed to pose the same attacking threat in the second half, Tranmere were forced to settle for a share of the spoils.
Macclesfield Town 1 – 1 Tranmere Rovers
Into Cup action on Friday night and a Fernando Llorente scored a hat-trick as Tottenham scored seven goals against Rovers to cruise into the FA Cup fourth round. Llorente, making just his second start of the season, scored three in 24 minutes as Spurs recorded their biggest away win in the club’s history.
First he turned in Son Heung-min’s cut-back in the 48th minute for Spurs’ second and then slid a finish under Tranmere goalkeeper Scott Davies from Oliver Skipp’s pass. Just a minute later the Spaniard completed his hat-trick by poking in Lucas Moura’s cross before being replaced by England captain Harry Kane.
Spurs had been kept out for 40 minutes until Serge Aurier hit a 25-yard shot that deflected off Emmanuel Monthe before swerving into the top corner. Llorente’s first goal was the first of three in nine minutes for Spurs at the start of the second half with Aurier slotting in his second and Son scoring a fine individual goal with a solo run from deep.
Kane added the seventh in the 82nd minute with a calm chip over Davies from inside the penalty area to draw level with Cliff Jones as Spurs’ joint fourth top scorer on 159 goals.
Tranmere, aiming to reach the fourth round for the first time since 2003-04, rarely troubled their Premier League opponents. Their best chance came shortly after Llorente had given Spurs a two-goal lead but Harvey Gilmour’s shot was blocked over after a long throw.
Spurs made eight changes for the game but still fielded a team with eight internationals including Dele Alli, their captain on the night, and in-form Son. Kane, playmaker Christian Eriksen and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris were among those rested from the starting line-up but Spurs always looked comfortable as the 74 league places between the sides showed.
Tottenham could have scored before their 40th-minute opener but Son and Lucas Moura both missed chances when through on goal. Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham were helped by a strange performance from Tranmere who seemed to stand off their opponents rather than apply pressure on a bobbly surface at their home ground.
Once Aurier’s goal went in the result never looked in doubt and Spurs cut through their opponents with ease. Llorente has had little game-time this season – he was appearing for just the 11th time this season – but he was on hand to apply three simple finishes. It is the second year in a row the Spaniard has scored a hat-trick in the FA Cup, doing so in last season’s fifth round in a replay against Rochdale.
Son was the creator of much of the good play for Spurs with a driving run to the byeline for Llorente’s first goal and a sublime touch in the build-up to feeding Aurier for his second. The South Korean’s goal was his seventh in his last six games and his free-scoring sums up the form of Spurs as a team who have found the net 33 times in the last 34 days. Spurs were also able to hand first-team debuts to 20-year-old midfielder George Marsh and 18-year-old Timothy Eyoma.
Tranmere Rovers 0 – 7 Tottenham Hotspur
Following the game, Tranmere manager Micky Mellon said: “It was tough, the scoreline says that. We got punished for moments of where a wee bit of quality was needed against a very good Spurs side, but we’ve done well to get to this stage of the competition.
“To play against a team like Tottenham was fantastic for the club but we’ll move ahead and it’s all about the league now.
“Tottenham were brilliant. Every mistake we made, they took their opportunity. They were great with the football, with getting back, and their attitude coming here was fantastic. They showed what wonderful footballers they are.
“About 10 of our lads played for us in the National League last year so for them to be involved in this occasion will do them the world of good. Now we have to move ahead and learn the lessons from it.”