Brighton and Hove Albion vs. Tranmere Rovers match preview

Ronnie looking for third away win of the season
It's a return to the bread and butter of the league this weekend, as Ronnie Moore witakes his Tranmere side to the Withdean Stadium as they take on Brighton and Hove Albion in Coca-Cola League One.

Rovers will be looking for their first ever win at The Withdean, whilst Brighton will be looking to extend their recent good run of form, which recently saw them hit eight past Northwich Victoria in the First Round of the F.A. Cup.

Brighton and Hove Albion team profile:

Formed: 1901

Ground: The Whitdean Stadium

Manager: Dean Wilkins

Nickname: The Seagulls

Season Finish 2005/06: 24th (Coca-Cola Championship)

Past Meetings:

It is in fact over two and a half years since Tranmere and Brighton last played each other, as both were promotion contenders come May in the 2003/04 season, a year which eventually saw Brighton promoted.

Under Brian Little, Tranmere managed a 1-0 win against The Seagulls at Prenton Park on Saturday 20th December, with Ryan Taylor scoring the only goal of the game, albeit and penalty, in the 81st minute.

Four months later, in mid-March, Rovers made the very long trip down to Brighton on a Wednesday evening, with the travelling fans having to bear the agony of a 3-0 defeat.

All the goals were scored in the first half, with Hart, Benjamin and Knight scoring the goals for Brighton. The game was also noteable for seven yellow cards.

Vital Stats:

In two previous trips to the Withdean Stadium, Tranmere have lost twice and failed to even score

Tranmere and Brighton haven't been in the same division for two consecutive seasons since the 1973/74 and 1974/75 seasons

Rovers have only won two out of 14 games away to Brighton

Tranmere have never drawn on November 18th, winning three times and losing seven times

The Super White Army have failed to score in six of their 14 trips to Brighton

The Form Book:

Brighton and Hove Albion last 6 home games inc. cup): WWDWLL
Tranmere Rovers last 6 away games (inc. cup): LWDLWL

Things haven't been easy for Brighton so far this season, but since the sacking of Mark McGee following a run of four league games without a win, results have started to pick up for The Seagulls.

In their last four league and cup games at The Withdean Stadium, Brighton have won three and drawn one and overall, since the departure of McGee, Brighton have lost just two out of eight home games, picking up four wins in the process, with the emergance of striker Jake Robinson being a key factor to their improved form this season.

At the Withdean most recently, Brighton smashed Northwich Victoria 8-0 in the first round of the F.A. Cup, with the afforementioned Robinson bagging himself a hatrick.

Prior to that, Brighton had defeated Martin Allen's MK Dons 4-1 at the Withdean in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy, along with a 2-0 win over Boston in the same competition and a 1-1 draw with Northampton Town sandwiched inbetween.

However, before this Brighton had picked up just two wins from their opening seven home league games, including a dismal three defeats.

Blackpool (3-0), Chesterfield (2-1) and Dario Gradi's Crewe Alexandra (4-1) all defeated The Seagulls on their home territory, whilst Bournemouth and Brentford all picked up 2-2 draws on the seaside.

The two victories for Brighton were over Gillingham and Leyton Orient, as they won 1-0 and 4-1 over their southern rivals.

Brighton also defeat Boston United of League Two in the Carling Cup First Round, with Reid scoring a 73rd minute winner for The Seagulls.

For Tranmere, it has been difficult away from home in the league, as they have managed just two wins, one coming in August and the other in November.

Firstly, Rovers lost 1-0 to Cheltenham Town before drawing 0-0 with Doncaster Rovers at Belle Vue. Tranmere then travelled to Hull City in the First Round of the Carling Cup where they scored their first away goal of the season, thanks to Shane Sherriff, but were defeat 2-1 after an extra-time winner for Hull.

Ronnie Moore then picked up his first away win as Tranmere manager at Chesterfield, thanks to an Aaron Downes own goal and then a superb Gareth Taylor lob, before it was back to normal against Rotherham where Rovers lost 2-1 despite a Kevin Ellison first half equaliser.

Four days later Tranmere were back to winning ways with a 3-1 victory over Northampton at Sixfields, Taylor, Zola and Mullin scoring the goals for Rovers. This was however Rovers last win on the road in the league, as they have picked up just one point from nine available since.

Away to Bradford, Tranmere lost 2-0 after a dismal performance before drawing 0-0 at the Liberty Stadium against Swansea City, a ground were Tranmere are yet to score. Most recently away from home, Tranmere lost 1-0 against Carlisle.

In the Johnstone's Paint Trophy first round against Bury at Gigg Lane, Tranmere won 2-0 thanks to first goals of the season for Chris Shuker and Steven Jennings.

Double Hit:

There is one player currently on the books at Brighton who has previously played for Tranmere Rovers and who Ronnie Moore tried to bring back to Prenton Park in the summer.

36-year old defender George Santos started his spell in England with Tranmere Rovers after a successful trial under John Aldridge.

The six foot tall centre-half signed in the summer of 1998 for Aldo's men and went on to make 54 appearances in the league and cup for Tranmere Rovers, scoring two goals, which were both in the league.

In March 2000, Santos, notoriously known as one of the football league's hard men, signed a contract with West Bromich Albion after moving to the Midlands from Tranmere for £25,000.

The defender was on the move again in the summer after making just eight appearances for The Baggies, signed for Sheffield United, where he was later joined by Wayne Allison, before moving on to Grimsby Town, Ipswich Town, Queens Park Rangers and Brighton where he finds himself today, for whom he signed this summer.

Since moving to The Withdean Stadium, Santos has started seven league games and come off the bench three times in the league, along with one league cup appearances.

Since joining English football in 1998 under John Aldridge, Santos has made a total of 281 league and cup appearances for his seven clubs, scoring 16 goals, which have all come in the league.

Team News:

Tranmere have a number of injury worries ahead of the game this weekend. Ronnie Moore has confirmed Kevin Ellison, Ollie James, Steve Jennings, Carl Tremarco and Calvin Zola will all miss the games with injuries whilst Robbie Stockdale is also a doubt.

Chris Shuker should return from his one-match suspension, whilst Danny Harrison has the opportunity to play for the final time before his three match ban kicks in.

Paul McLaren could play after limping off against Woking whilst Mike Jones and Craig Curran are agains expected to travel with the squad.

Jones' Prediction: Brighton and Hove Albion 2-2 Tranmere Rovers