TRANMERE duo Cole Stockton and Max Power both netted in the second half as Rovers comfortably avoided a potential FA Cup first-round upset on their second trip to non-League outfit Braintree.
With the first attempt to play the fixture in Essex 10 days ago abandoned due to heavy rain, Joe Thompson set Tranmere on their way in the 24th minute bundling home after Danny Naisbitt parried Stockton’s volley.
And Stockton himself ensured that only one fixture would be needed, firing past Naisbitt after the break before Power added a third late on as Rovers set up a second-round clash at home to League Two Chesterfield.
Braintree forced the first corner of the match inside a minute and recorded the first shot through Daniel Sparkes moments later after a poor kick out from Tranmere keeper Owain fon Williams.
Iron midfielder Sean Marks then headed over after another corner from Bradley Quinton while all Rovers could manage in reply early on was a James Wallace shot from the edge of the area that sailed high and wide.
Braintree dominated the opening 10 minutes and striker Dan Holman should have done better after collecting a poor Ash Taylor header and beating the 22-year-old but he dragged his attempt at goal wide.
But, for all their efforts, it was Tranmere who should have took the lead in the 17th minute when a curling cross-field pass from Stockton found Thompson with space on the right.
The 23-year-old delivered a hanging ball into the Braintree box but Danny Harrison, racing to meet the cross, somehow volleyed over when unmarked and with the goal at his mercy.
Braintree again had a good chance shortly after as Holman pounced onto a flicked header from Marks before turning Middlesbrough loanee Ben Gibson but his shot curled inches wide.
But Tranmere weren’t in the mood to waste their chances and in the 24th minute they went ahead after Thompson reacted quickest to Iron keeper Naisbitt’s fine point-blank save from Stockton.
Andy Robinson started the move by chasing an over-hit cross into the left corner and finding Zoumana Bakayogo who then sent a teasing ball into the box that Iron defender Matt Paine could only head skywards.
Stockton hit a powerful volley on the turn that like Paine’s header, Iron keeper Naisbitt could only parry upwards with Thompson bundling the ball home as it came down.
Braintree almost immediately had the perfect chance to equalise after a long ball from Naisbitt found Luke Daley, who had literally just replaced Mulley in midfield.
However Daley didn’t connect properly and fon Williams made an easy save while at the other end Naisbitt was called into action to deny Stockton after a neat pull back across the box from Thompson.
Holman then finally hit the gloves of fon Williams before a flurry of substitutions before half-time saw Adam Bailey-Dennis replace Dean Wells for Braintree and Tranmere goal-scorer Thompson make way for Jake Kirby.
It took Tranmere just seven minutes after the restart to double their advantage – Robinson feeding Stockton who turned Paine inside out before driving past Braintree keeper Naisbitt.
Rovers then replaced Taylor with Ian Goodison in the 57th minute and he was immediately in the thick of it, clashing heads with Marks which resulted in the latter coming off himself.
If the first half was action-packed, the second was anything but although Harrison forced Naisbitt into a save with a stinging striker from outside the box after 73 minutes.
Goodison almost gifted Braintree a goal with ten minutes left after his poor back pass had fon Williams in trouble however the Tranmere keeper managed to fend off the threat of Kaine Sheppard.
And it was left for Stockton to have the final say as he set up substitute Power in the dying moments to make 3-0.
BRAINTREE TOWN: Naisbitt, Habergham, Paine, O’Connor, Wells (Bailey-Dennis 38), Quinton, Davis, Sparkes, Mulley (Daley 29), Marks (Sheppard 67), Holman. Subs not used: McDonald, Symons, Peters, Dawkin
TRANMERE: fon Williams, Holmes, Taylor (Goodison 57), Bakayogo, Gibson, Thompson (Kirby 43), Wallace (Power 77), Robinson, Harrison, Stockton, Jervis. Subs not used: Mooney, McChrystal, Kay.
REFEREE: Dean Whitestone (Northamptonshire).