The Tigers did the damage in the first half as they kept up this season’s pleasing habit of scoring early. This time they netted twice in the opening six minutes as Jon Toral and David Milinkovic got Grant McCann’s side off to a flying start before Ryan Tafazolli added a third just before the break.
As is often the case, the cup offered a chance for the pack to be shuffled and Grant McCann’s starting eleven was completely overhauled following last weekend’s victory over Reading in the Championship.
Matt Ingram took over from George Long in goal to lead the list of players making their first competitive starts for the Club. That list also included a central defensive pairing of Tafazolli and Matthew Pennington, Leonardo Da Silva Lopes and George Honeyman in midfield, Josh Bowler further forward and Josh Magennis leading the line. Honeyman captained the side.
The Tigers were straight on the attack to take the lead after only 19 seconds. Milinkovic found Brandon Fleming on an overlap down the left and the full back’s cross was perfect for Toral who arrived to head home from six yards.
Magennis went close to adding a second when taking advantage of some good closing down from Bowler before seeing a powerful drive beaten away by goalkeeper Scott Davies, but Honeyman kept the ball alive to create goal number two in only the sixth minute. A cross to the far post found Milinkovic and after taking the ball down, an initial effort blocked by Davies rebounded off the Tigers man to find the net.
The black and amber attacking tide continued to overwhelm the home side and Davies had to react smartly to prevent a Bowler cross being turned into his own net by Manny Monthe, while Toral dragged a low effort wide from 20 yards all before a quarter-of-an-hour had even been played.
A seemingly shell-shocked Tranmere offered their first threat when Corey Blackett-Taylor got the better of Robbie McKenzie before seeing a shot saved by Ingram, while at the other end Da Silva showed his pace down the right to set up Bowler who was kept out by Davies.
Toral was again off target from distance, as was Fleming, before a deserved third goal arrived in the final minute of the half. This time it came from a set-piece as Milinkovic’s corner was met by a powerful header from Tafazolli who gave Davies no chance.
Tranmere started the second half brightly and almost pulled a goal back through Blackett-Taylor’s stunning effort but his 25-yarder came back off Ingram’s crossbar.
Blackett-Taylor then hit the side-netting after a smart piece of play down the left and home appeals for a penalty were turned down when Monthe’s shot was blocked inside the area.
A double change just after the hour saw Tom Eaves and Nouha Dicko replace Magennis and Milinkovic before Ingram pulled off a good save to keep out Paul Mullin’s curling shot.
A final substitution saw Daniel Batty come on for Toral, and it was Batty’s pass that looked to have set Da Silva on route to goal until a crude challenge from George Ray brought a yellow card the Tranmere man’s way.
Liam Ridehalgh sent a diving header against the outside of Ingram’s near-post as the home side’s quest for a consolation goal continued, while at the other end McKenzie’s shot took a deflection on its way just wide as the clock ran down.
Tranmere Rovers: Scott Davies, Liam Ridehalgh, George Ray, Manny Monthe, Kieron Morris, Darren Potter (Connor Jennings 62), Morgan Ferrier (Paul Mullin 62), David Perkins, Kane Wilson, Corey Blackett-Taylor (Jordan Ponticelli 80), Ollie Banks.
Subs Not Used: Luke Pilling, Sid Nelson, Harvey Gilmour, Stefan Payne.
Hull City: Matt Ingram; Robbie McKenzie, Matthew Pennington, Ryan Tafazolli, Brandon Fleming; George Honeyman ©, Jon Toral (Daniel Batty 71), Leonardo Da Silva Lopes; Josh Bowler, David Milinkovic (Nouha Dicko 62), Josh Magennis (Tom Eaves 62).
Subs Not Used: George Long, Reece Burke, Jarrod Bowen, Stephen Kingsley.
Referee: Mr S. Stockbridge.