Bradford vs. Tranmere Rovers match preview

Rovers chasing a place in the Third Round
The F.A. Cup returns this weekend, as Tranmere Rovers travel to Yorkshire to take on League Two side Bradford City in the second round of this seasons trophy.

It is another tricky test for Rovers, but with well over 1,000 fans set to make the journey to Valley Parade, Ronnie Moore and his side will be hoping that booking their place in the second round will come a little easier, should the travelling Super White Army once again be in full voice.

Bradford City team profile:

Formed: 1903

Ground: Valley Parade

Manager: Stuart McCall

Nickname: The Bantams

Season Finish 2005/06: 22nd (Coca-Cola League One)

Previous Meetings:

Last season, Bradford and Tranmere were both in Coca-Cola League One, as the Bantams headed towards relegation towards League Two, just a handful of years after earning a place in the Premier League.

Relegation didn't however prevent Bradford from picking up four points off Rovers, as Tranmere failed to beat the Yorkshire side for the second season running.

At Valley Parade in late September, Tranmere suffered a 2-0 defeat as Bradford won the game with two second half goals.

The first goal was scored in the 54th minute by Bower as he headed home at the far post from a Lee Holmes cross on the left before Bradford sealed the game through a 71st minute strike from former Everton player Stephen Schumacher vollied the ball home after the Tranmere defence only managed to clear a Holmes cross as far as the edge of the area.

A few months later at Prenton Park, Rovers initially lead the game 1-0 before Bradford hit back to claim a 1-1 draw and a valuable point.

Gareth Taylor got the opener for Tranmere as Cavlin Zola crossed to Davies who headed back across goal for Taylor to finish from close range.

Bradford hit back however with an equaliser on 34-minutes as Johnson found Schumacher in side the penalty area, and the Bradford midfielder, now with Crewe, sent on-loan goalkeeper Joe Hart the wrong way with his finish, scoring his second of the season against Rovers.

Vital Stats:

Rovers haven't managed a win in their last nine games against Bradford

Tranmere have managed just two goals in their last four games at Valley Parade

In 42 trips to Bradford, Tranmere have collected just nine wins, compared to 24 for the Bantams

In a total of 81 matches between the two teams, there have been 145 goals scored

There have been three previous F.A. Cup meetings between the two sides, with all being played at Bradford and Tranmere losing all three games

On This Day:

2001: Rovers win 2-0 at home to Bournemouth in Division Two

1990: John Kings Tranmere side lose a key game in the promotion race 2-1 away to Bolton Wanderers

1984: Tranmere win 3-2 away to Southend United in Division Four

In total, from nine games played on December 1st, Tranmere have picked up five wins, three defeats and one draw, as they have conceeded 12 goals and scored 17.

The Form Book:

Bradford City last 6 home games: DWWLDL
Tranmere last 6 away games: DWLLWD

Bradford's home form has been anything but spectacular since they made the drop into Coca-Cola League Two in the Spring.

Indeed, four of Bradford's last five games have been at Valley Parade but they come into this game lying in seventeenth place in the League Two table but of course, league form means nothing when it comes to the cup.

In their first match of the six match sequence, Bradford lost 3-0 at home to Accrington Stanley before picking up a 0-0 draw against high flying darlington at Valley Parade.

After this, the Bantams lost 2-1 against another team who was relegated from League One last season and is struggling in League Two this year, Brentford, now managed by Terry Butcher.

But since, Bradford have gone three home games without defeat, including two home wins against Chester City. Firstly, the Bantams won 2-1 against City in the League thanks to goals from Daley and Rhodes, before four days later a Peter Thorne goal booked Bradford their place in the second round of the F.A. Cup against the same opposition.

In their most recent home game, Stuart McCall's side drew 1-1 with Stockport County, as a goal from Ndumbu-Nsungu was cancelled out by a 90th minute equaliser from Poole.

Other notable home results for Bradford this season included wins over Wrexham (2-1) and Peterborough (1-0), as well as a 1-1 draw with Macclesfield Town.

From a total of nine home league games, Bradford have picked up three wins, three draws and three defeats, meaning they have a total of 12 points from an available 24.

Notable away results for the Yorkshire side include a 4-1 hammering of Dagenham and Redbridge as well as a 2-1 win against struggling Lincoln.

Despite three consecutive league games without an away win, Tranmere come into this game unbeaten in their last two away games after two spirited performances on the road.

Firstly, Rovers came from behind to beat Chesterfield 2-1 in the first round of the F.A. Cup, thanks to goals from Greenacre and Kay, before they drew 0-0 with Doncaster Rovers in their first visit to the Keepmoat Stadium, despite having defender Carl Tremarco sent off on 47 minutes.

Before these two results, Tranmere had lost two in a row on the road however. Firstly, they lost their first away league game of the season at Swindon Town as an injury hit Tranmere squad was defeated 1-0, before two weeks later Rovers lost again against promotion chasing Nottingham Forest, losing 2-0 at the City Ground.

Previous to the Swindon result however, Tranmere's away form was impressive. Their other two games in the six match sequence had seen them firstly draw 1-1 away to Cheltenham Town, although they had lead the game 1-0, and then picking up a brilliant thre points away to Southend thanks to a 2-1 victory at Roots Hall.

Other notable away results for Tranmere have seen them pick up wins against Gillingham (2-0) and Carlisle United (1-0).

From a total of eight away league games, Tranmere have picked up 12 points from an available 24, thanks to three wins, three draws and two defeats.

Notable home results for the Wirral side include wins over Luton Town (2-1), Brighton and Hove Albion (2-0) and Huddersfield Town (3-0).

Double Hit:

Over the bast few years, quite a few players have represented both Tranmere Rovers and Bradford City, including striker Delroy Facey, defender Simon Francis and midfielder Nicky Summerbee.

If you go further back, you will find that former Chesterfield manager Roy McFarland also represented both clubs in the twentieth century.

Born in Birkenhead, McFarland started his career with Tranmere Rovers in the mid-1960's, making his debut in the 1966/67 season.

That season was McFarland's only one with the club however, as after making 35 appearances in the season, the Englishman signed for Derby County, where he went on to become a club legend.

Making nearly 500 appearances for Derby in his first stint with the club, lasting between 1967 and 1981, McFarland became a firm favourite and whilst at Derby won his first of his 28 international caps for England.

A move away from the Baseball Ground came in 1981 as McFarland moved to Bradford, but just a year and 40 appearances down the line, McFarland returned to Derby where he ended his career as a player.

He did however move in to management shortly after he finished playing. The former central defender, now 59, had successful stints as manager of firstly Bradford and then he made his return to Derby as a manager.

After leaving Derby for the final time in 1995, McFarland went on to manage Bolton, Cambridge and Torquay before joining Chesterfield in 2003 whom he left last season.

One To Watch:

The loss of striker Dean Windass for bradford last season was undoubtably a huge contribution to their relegation from League One, as they lost a proven goalscorer from their team.

Bradford still have a couple of potential match winners in their side however, one of which is former Cardiff striker Peter Thorne.

Thorne started his career as a trainee with Blackburn Rovers after being borm in Manchester. He however failed to make a first team appearance for the club, and after a goalless loan spell with Wigan Athletic, he moved to Swindon Town in January 1995 for £225,000.

Thorne started to make his name as a natural goal scorer at the County Ground, and having netted 32 goals in 92 games in two years for the club, he moved on to Stoke City for £500,000 in August 1997.

At Stoke he continued to raise his profile as he netted 80 goals in 183 games for the Potteries club, before moving on to Cardiff City for £1,700,000 in September 2001.

In South Wales, the goals continued to come for Thorne, who played in both League One and the Championship (as they are now called) for the club, before transfering to Norwich in July 2005 having scored a further 51 goals in 143 appearances for the team.

The spell at Norwich proved to be one hampered by injury however, and that coupled with poor form (he netted just twice in 42 games for the Caneries in two years) lead to him being released in July 2007.

Soon after however he was snapped up by Bradford City. Injury prevented Thorne from starting the season in the Bradford team, but he has returned to play since, now playing ten games and netting two goals, his first the winner in their F.A. Cup First Round match against Chester.

Never a player with blistering pace or skill, but Thorne is a natural in front of goal and is a decent ball winner in the air. Standing at six foot tall, the 34 year old wears the number ten shirt for Bradford and will be hoping to score what would be just his third F.A. Cup goal this weekend against Tranmere.

The F.A. Cup This Weekend:

As ever, the F.A. Cup provides a number of highly exciting and interesting fixtures this weekend, with a number of non-league teams coming up against league opposition.

The action all starts on Friday night, as high flying League One side Swansea City, who beat Tranmere 1-0 last weekend, take on Horsham in front of the Sky Television camera's.

Forest Green Rovers travel to Swindon as their reward for a 3-0 win over Rotherham in the first round, that after a replay, whilst Oxford United take on Southend United at the Kasaam Stadium.

Yorkshire side Harrogate Railway take on Mansfield Town whilst Port Vale take on Chasetown, the non-league side in the second round for the first time in their history.

One non-league side will definately be in the third round with a chance to play against the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool or Chelsea, as Cambridge United, a former league side, take on Weymouth whilst the games between Burton and Barnet and Bury and Exeter are certain to be close, with both sides only seperated by one division.

Notts County take on southern side Havent and Waterlooville whilst last round's giant-killers Staines Town travel to Peterborough to take on the Posh.

Team News:

Ronnie Moore again has a number of injury worries ahead of this weekends trip to Bradford. Ben Chorley (calf) and Steve Davies (knee-ligaments) will both miss out once again, whilst the game has come just a week too soon for John Mullin (ankle) after the midfielder returned from injury in this week's reserve game against Preston. Carl Tremarco will also miss out as he continue's to serve his three match ban but otherwise Ronnie Moore has no reported injury worries, although the game could see the likes of Calvin Zola, Craig Curran and Mike Jones handed starts with a number of first team regulars rested.

Jones' Prediction: Bradford City 2-2 Tranmere Rovers

This will of course be a tough game for Rovers. What league your in and your current form means nothing when it comes to the F.A. Cup, as we have already seen this season with non-league Staines Town knocking out Stockport County of Coca-Cola League Two.

Tranmere will have to work hard to win the match and their will be pressure on them to finally score some goals as they come into this match having only scored two goals in their last four games, both in an F.A. Cup tie against Chesterfield.

The key man for Ronnie Moore and his side could well be the form of winger Jennison Myrie-Williams, whilst should he start, Paul McLaren will also be a key player with his passing ability in the midfield.