The game was postponed from 14th January.
In a game rescheduled from earlier in the month because of a waterlogged pitch, Rovers capitalised on a hugely under-strength Hornets and best navigated a dire, sand-covered Prenton Park surface to finally settle the tie in extra time.
Nigel Pearson, to his credit, was gracious in defeat and blamed neither the poor playing surface nor his changes for the early exit, although the Watford manager was pointed in his criticism of some of the club’s young players who failed to seize their chance to impress. “Some of our young players thought they could just turn up in the first half,” he said. “You have to earn the right to play. It was a bit of a reality check for some. Welcome to the man’s game.”
In the cold light of day, while it had been a disappointing performance from the youngsters, it was not unexpected. They had started brightly enough and there had been a few decent moments, but the Tranmere team were too strong for them and, ultimately, appeared to want it more. Of the youngsters, Hinds did well when he came on and deserved his goal. Spencer-Adams has looked promising in both games and Whelan had a decent second half. Of the first-team players, Kabasele put in a decent shift, Holebas had a couple of very decent chances but looked unhappy to be there and Gray was mostly anonymous, which was very sad to see.