Mark Jackson took charge of a young Leeds United side away in the Papa John’s Trophy to face Sky Bet League Two side, Tranmere Rovers.
The hosts went into the lead inside the first 10 minutes, with the highly-experienced Peter Clarke slipping through career goal-scorer Nicky Maynard, who produced a smart finish to make it one-nil to his side.
Leeds came back into the match after the early set-back and could have found an equaliser through efforts from Sean McGurk and Amari Miller, who both created openings.
The next opportunity also went the way of Jackson’s side, with McGurk the architect this time from a free-kick which found the head of Max Dean, but the striker’s effort was over the bar.
The Whites did then find the back of the net through Dean as he rounded the ‘keeper and fired home from Harvey Sutcliffe’s through-ball, but the offside flag went up to deny him.
Shortly after, Tranmere would net a second, and then a third to all but take the game away before the half-time whistle.
The second came through Mark Duffy’s corner finding the head of Sam Foley at the front post, and just minutes later Maynard bagged his second and Tranmere’s third with another smart finish.
HALF TIME: Tranmere Rovers 3-0 Leeds United U21
Leeds made a change at the break, with Sutcliffe going off to be replaced by Keenan Carole and the winger was instantly into the action as he looked to get his side back in the game.
Jackson’s side were continuing to pressure the defence of the home side and continued to create chances. McGurk went closest, forcing Ross Doohan into an excellent save.
A few minutes later the Whites had the goal their play deserved through an excellent move. McGurk played the ball in-field to Archie Gray, who turned two players before threading a pass through to Miller. The winger controlled and smashed home to reduce the deficit.
The goal was no more than Leeds had deserved for their play throughout and attacking intent, which is exactly how they continued. Carole was causing problems linking up with McGurk on one side, whilst Dean and Miller continued to be threats on the other wing.
Despite their best effort and constant possession of the ball, Tranmere got forward in the closing stages and made it four, when Foley got his second by stabbing home from a corner.
Leeds continued to push until the final whistle as they had done throughout the match, but the full-time whistle was blown and Tranmere claimed the points.
FULL TIME: Tranmere Rovers 4-1 Leeds United U21
Papa John’s Trophy
Tranmere Rovers 4 (Maynard 6’, 41’, Foley 34’, 87’)
Leeds United 1 (Miller 63’)
Tranmere: Doohan (GK), MacDonald (Dieseruvwe 59’), Knight-Percival, Merrie, Glatzel, Foley, Maynard (Maguire 59’), Walker, Duffy (Hawkes 75’), O’Connor, Clarke (C).
Subs not used: Jones (GK), Davies, Watson, Feeney.
Leeds: Van Den Heuvel, Miller, McGurk, Dean, Allen, Moore, Kenneh, Snowdon, Sutcliffe (Carole 45’), Mullen, Gray.
Subs not used: Christy (GK), Hughes, Spencer, Coleman, Thomas, Andreucci.
Venue: Prenton Park
Attendance: 1,209 (87 away)
Referee: Simon Mather
Booked: Foley (Tranmere) Snowdon, Dean (Leeds)