Tranmere Rovers (H) Match Preview

What a difference a few weeks makes in football. Sorry, let me rephrase that. What a difference a few months, a new manager, some sort of defensive organisation, cutting out individual mistakes, playing a different goalkeeper, renewing a sense of confidence, and actually signing a fucking real-life striker – two! – makes in football. That’s more accurate.

It’s not as if we’re playing the most breathtaking football ever, but we’re picking up results, especially at home, and our new-found solidity and revolutionised defensive shape doesn’t look like the sort of system that will lead to the big, scary ‘R’ word. We’re somehow on the right end of the form table – right at the top of it, if you’re asking – not lurking around the bottom as we’ve been used to. To be honest, if we stay up simply by not being as shambolically bad as Yeovil, then that’s fine with me. Panic over, for now?

This weekend we welcome a Tranmere Rovers side that currently sit 12th. Even though they came out 1-0 winners at their place at the start of December, they’ve only won twice since the turn of the year, including a 7-0 hammering at the hands of Parisian inmate Serge Aurier and his Spurs cronies. On the other hand, we did ourselves a solid and gave the boys a rest by going out of the cup early doors to Guiseley. I see what you did there, Joe.


The Opposition:

Last 3 Results: 

09/02 – Won 2-0 vs Stevenage (H)

05/02 – Lost 2-1 vs Northampton (H)

26/01 – Lost 3-0 vs Mansfield (A)

Nickname Rating: 1/10 Super White Army – I don’t even need to explain myself here, rubbish in every sense, not just the neo-nazi way.

Key Player: James Norwood

It would be funny of me to sit here and try and slag off James Norwood for whatever reason, but in reality he has developed into undoubtedly one of the best strikers at this level and has the potential to decide the outcome of Saturday’s game single-handedly. His goal was the difference when we travelled up to Prenton Park in December, and I would have a few pennies on him bulging the net at the Abbey, love hearts on the pitch or not. He’s the league’s top goalscorer on 20, outscoring Tyler Walker at 2nd place Mansfield on 16. He is the real driving force behind anything good this Tranmere side will do, and the biggest test yet for our revolutionised back line to try and stop.

Also, here he is looking like an extra from Game of Thrones:

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One to watch: Steve McNulty

This 6 foot 4 centre half will remind you of League Two’s very own John Stones; tall, slim, and good with his feet. At only 21, he’s one of the most promising up and coming players the division – you’ll be shocked by his pace. Here he is as a young prospect in Luton Town’s academy:

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On the bench: Micky Mellon

Micky played for Tranmere three separate times so he’s either some sort of “club legend” or just never really decided how much he actually liked the Wirral – or maybe just the 90s version of George Taft. He’s also a good manager with a very good record at getting teams out of divisions. He took Jamie Vardy’s Fleetwood from the Conference North to League 2, before taking Shrewsbury (without Jamie Vardy) into League 1 a couple of seasons ago as runners up. Having taken Tranmere up via the playoffs in his second season in charge (despite playing with 10 men for literally the entirety of the final), his TranmereJamesNorwoodRovers team have had a formidable first season back in the league.

Did you see how I managed to write all of that without resorting to any fruit-based puns? Good, right.

UTAS Prediction:

1-1  – This isn’t a particular outlandish prediction, but I do fancy us to get something. Probably just a point, but it’s a point further from the drop.


Rushian Hepburn-Murphy – First Goalscorer

It’s about time young Rushian got himself on the scoresheet, he’s certainly deserved it. In fact (and perhaps worryingly), it would be his first goal in professional football. What a time to get it though, White Rushians all round to celebrate.

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