Accrington Stanley vs. Tranmere Rovers match preview

Edrissa Sonko, hoping to score his second of the season against Accrington
The Football League teams, that is to say League's One and Two, enter the F.A. Cup this weekend as the world famous competition reaches the First Round proper stage.

Tranmere Rovers face a potential banana skin as they travel to Lancashire to take on Accrington Stanley, and Ronnie Moore's side are just one of a number of teams who will be desperately hoping not to slip up against lower league opposition this weekend.

Accrington Stanley team profile:

Formed: 1968

Ground: The Fraser Eagle Stadium

Manager: John Coleman

Nickname: Stanley

Season Finish 2006/07: 17th (Coca-Cola League Two)

Previous Meetings:

Tranmere Rovers have already played Accrington Stanley once this season, with the two sides meeting in the First Round of the Johnstone's Paints Trophy.

In what was a pretty drab game, Tranmere picked up a 1-0 win, a scoreline that has become familliar to them throughout the competition this season, as they have won all three of their Johnstone's Paints Trophy matches by a solitary goal.

The game saw young defenders Ryan Shotton and Luke Waterfall start for the first time, as Ronnie Moore, although resting a couple of regulars, still put major emphasis on the team reaching the second round of the trophy.

As it was, Rovers did progress, with winger Edrissa Sonko scoring the only goal of the game just four minutes into the second half.

Curran took the ball down the right-wing for Rovers and slid the ball into the penalty area where Sonko was waiting, with the Gambian international cooly firing the ball into the top corner to earn Rovers the win.

Vital Stats:

Tranmere have won eight of their 32 away games against Accrington, picking up six draws as well as eighteen defeats in the other 24 matches

In 65 matches between the two sides, there has only ever been one 0-0 draw

Rovers have one of their biggest all time wins against Stanley, when they beat the Lancashire side 9-0 at Prenton Park in April 1958

Between 1921 - 1938 and 1946 - 1959, Tranmere and Accrington were in the same division for every season (Division Three North), but due to Accrington's financial problems, they have only played one game since

Tranmere have only kept a clean sheet just three times in their last thirteen games against Accrington

On This Day:

2003: Brian Little's Tranmere win 3-2 at home to Chesterfield in the F.A. Cup First Round. That season Rovers would go on to reach the F.A. Cup Quarter Finals before being knocked out 2-1 on a replay at Prenton Park by Millwall

1997: Tranmere lost 2-1 at home to Port Vale in Division One

1995: In a League Cup game at Prenton Park, Tranmere hold Birmingham City to 1-1, before losing 3-1 after extra-time

On November 8th, Tranmere have played thirteen previous matches, picking up four wins, two draws and seven defeats. In the thirteen matches, they have scored seventeen goals yet conceded 23.

The Form Book:

Accrington last 6 home games: LWLLDW
Tranmere last 6 away games: LDWWDW

Up until last Saturday, Tranmere had been in sparkling form away from home, having gone on a five game unbeaten run, in which they had kept two clean sheets.

Ronnie Moore's side started their six match sequence with a 2-1 win away to Huddersfield Town, with Edrissa Sonko and Ryan Shotton pulling Tranmere from 1-0 down to win the match, before a week later they drew 2-2 at London Road against Peterborough.

Rovers then won successive away games for the first time since last season, firstly beating Carlisle United 2-1, although they won the game much more comfortably than the scoreline suggests, before Chris Shuker scored the only goal in a 1-0 win over Leyton Orient.

Tranmere then played out a 0-0 draw against Stockport United in front of nearly 1,000 travelling Tranmere fans, before last weekend they lost their unbeaten run in a 1-0 defeat at MK Dons, although many would argue Tranmere deserved at least a point from the game.

Other away results this season for Tranmere include unlucky defeats away to Grimsby Town (2-0) and Leicester City (3-1), whilst they were also deserved losers in a 3-1 defeat against Swindon Town.

Tranmere have so far played nine away games this season, earning themselves three wins, two draws and four defeats. In the league, they have picked up a total of ten points form an available twenty-four thanks to three wins, two draws and three defeats.

Impressive home successes for Rovers include excellent wins against Northampton Town (4-1), Cheltenham Town (2-0) and Crewe Alexandra (2-0).

After Saturday's 1-0 defeat at MK Dons, Tranmere are eleventh in the League One table with twenty-three points from their opening fifteen games.

This season, Accrington Stanley's home form has been far from impressive, with the Lancashire side having managed just two home wins so far this campaign.

They started their six match sequence with a 2-0 win over Macclesfield Town, Paul Mullin and Ryan scoring the goals, before Ryan scored a last minute equaliser in a 1-1 draw against Notts County.

Rochdale then dispatched of Accrington with a 3-1 win, although Accrington had led the match through a second minute goal from former Liverpool striker John Miles, before Stanley were beaten 3-2 by Bradford City, Terry Gornell scoring his first Accrington goal in this match.

Stanley picked up their second home win of the season with a 2-1 success over Shrewsbury Town in their next outing, but in their most recent match at the Frazier Eagle Stadium, Stanley were beaten 1-0 by Wycombe Wanderers.

In their only other home match of the season, Accrington lost 1-0 against league new-boys Aldershot on the opening day of the campaign.

From seven home matches so far this season, Accrington have picked up just seven points from an available twenty-one, thanks to two wins, one draw and a dissapointing four defeats.

Notable and impressive results away from home this season for Stanley have also been few and far between, with their two away wins coming against Luton Town (2-1) and Port Vale (2-0).

Accrington Stanley lie in fifteenth place in League Two after fifteen games, having picked up fifteen points from an available 45, thanks to four wins, three draws and eight defeats.

Double Hit:

Tranmere youngster Terry Gornell is currently on-loan at Accrington Stanley, as he looks to prove to Rovers manager Ronnie Moore that he is worth a place in the Tranmere first XI.

18-year old Gornell is a product of the Tranmere youth system and has been a huge success for the Rovers U-18 and reserve squads over recent years, where he has been a consistent goal scorer and always finished near the top of the goalscoring charts.

In the summer, Gornell signed his first professional contract for the club, a one-year deal, and then continued to impress as he made the step-up to the first team during pre-season, scoring a number of goals.

On August 12th 2008, the striker made his debut for Tranmere, this having been on the substitutes bench on a number of occasions last season, as he came off the bench, replacing striker Ian Moore for the final eight minutes of Tranmere's League Cup tie at Grimsby.

However, he was always going to find it difficult to get a regular place in the first team, with the likes of Bas Savage, Chris Greenacre and Craig Curran all ahead of him in the pecking order, and so, in September 2008, he joined Accrington Stanley on an initial one month loan deal.

Gornell impressed and soon his spell was extended for a further month. So far, he has made nine appearances for Stanley and scored three goals.

Due to the terms of his loan deal, Gornell is not allowed to play against Tranmere this weekend, something Rovers fans should be happy about, as he would most likely have scored the winner!

One To Watch: Paul Mullin

Brother of former Tranmere player John, who could also line up for Accrington tomorrow, Paul Mullin has been at Accrington for seven years, meaning he is in his eighth season with the club.

Unlike John, Paul is a striker and has scored plenty of goals for Accrington over the years, and indeed he was one of the key men behind the club getting promoted back to the Football League during the 2005/06 season.

Mullin actually started his career at Accrington before being released and going on to play non-League football with the likes of Darwen, Trafford, Clitheroe and Radcliffe Borough before being signed once more by Stanley in 2001.

Since re-joining the club, he has become somewhat of a fan favourite, scoring plenty of goals, including 14 in the clubs promotion season back to the Football League, whilst at the end of the 2006/07 season he broke Accrington's all time appearance record.

Paul looks very like his brother John and wears the number ten shirt for Accington. At 34, his best years are most probably behind him, but Paul is still a valuable player for Accrington and he has netted three times so far this season.

The F.A. Cup:

The F.A. Cup is one of the most famous and magical cup competitions in the world, and the First Round proper kicks off this weekend. Yet, despite the Premier League giants of Championship clubs not coming into the competition until the third round stage, there are still plenty of mouth watering ties around the country this weekend, where David will be hoping to beat Goliath as the non-League sides take on teams from League One and Two.

One of the most interesting fixtures takes place on Monday night, when break-away club AFC Wimbledon take on League Two side Wycombe, having made the F.A. Cup first round for the first time since being founded earlier this decade.

On Sunday, AFC Hornchurch, who you may remember Tranmere beat in the second round of the competition a few years ago, take on Peterborough, whilst the team of last years cup, Havant and Waterlooville, are at home to Brentford.

Saturday throws up many exciting games too, none more so, argueably, than Blyth Spartans hosting high flying League Two side Shrewsbury Town.

Internet website owned side Ebbsfleet travel to struggling Crewe in a game that could definately provide an upset, whilst Leicester City host Stevenage Borough.

Elsewhere, other interesting matches include Harlow vs. Macclesfield Town, Sutton United vs. Notts County, Curzon Ashton vs. Exeter, Histon vs. Swindon and Carlisle vs. Grays Athletic.

Team News:

Ronnie Moore again has a number of injury worries for Tranmere ahead of Saturdays match. Striker Craig Curran is definately out with a stomach injury, whilst Bas Savage (chest infection) and Ben Chorley (groin strain) are both doubtful. Defender Ian Goodison will definatley miss the match with a hamstring injury.

Jones' Prediction: Accrington Stanley 0-2 Tranmere Rovers

Tranmere have already beaten Accrington this season and they will be hoping for a similar result in this fixture, a game with argueably much more importance, as should either team get to the third round, there is a great chance that they could be drawn away to one of the Premier League's big boys in a money spinning tie.

Both managers will have their side motivated for what promises to be a hard-fought, nail biting affair, although Tranmere should be able to pull and win as they, without doubt, have a better quality of player than their League Two opponents.

Although Ian Goodison will miss the match, Tranmere proved they can win without him on Tuesday night, whilst with Bas Savage hoping to return to the side, Rovers should have extra fire-power up front.

Ronnie Moore will be hoping Chris Shuker is in form again, whilst with Ryan Shotton continueing to score goals, despite being a defender, Tranmere should have enough to see off Accrington this Saturday.

However, this is the F.A. Cup and just about anything could happen. The magic of the competition works in strange ways, just as Tranmere have pulled off upsets like wins at Goodison Park against Everton, they have been beaten by lower League opposition, as recently as last season even, when they lost at Hereford. Rovers will just be hoping for a safe progression to the second round tomorrow, whilst Accrington, the underdog, will be hoping to upset the odds.