Brighton and Hove Albion vs. Tranmere Rovers match preview

Savage looking to score against former club
Tranmere Rovers have a long away trip again this weekend, as they travel south to take on Brighton and Hove Albion at the Withdean Stadium.

Fresh off the back of their fifth away win of the season last weekend, Tranmere will be hoping they can produce another fine performance on the south coast this weekend as they look to lift themselves up into the play-off places, though this fixture against Russell Slade's side will not be easy, as the Seagulls are fighting for their lives at the wrong end of League One.

Brighton and Hove Albion team profile:

Formed: 1901

Ground: The Whitdean Stadium

Manager: Russell Slade

Nickname: The Seagulls

Season Finish 2006/07: 7th (Coca-Cola League One)

Previous Meetings:

Tranmere picked up an invaluable 1-0 home win against Brighton when the two sides met at Prenton Park just before Christmas.

Rovers had been much the better side through-out the match, but defences and 'keepers had come out on top, with niether side able to break down their oppositions backline.

However, in the dying minutes of injury time, Tranmere broke Brighton hearts as captain fantastic Antony Kay popped up with a late, late winner for the home side.

The goal was a scrappy one, as after Ian Moore's fantastic effort with the outside of his foot hit the post, Shuker's follow up was saved by the 'keeper, only for Kay to pop up and scramble the ball home from close range.

Vital Stats:

Tranmere have kept clean sheets in four of their last five games against Brighton

In sixteen away games against Brighton, Tranmere have picked up three wins, but been defeated on eight occasions

Rovers have netted just thirteen times compared to Brighton's 23 goals in the sixteen meetings between these two sides on the south coast

Tranmere have lost two of their five games against Brighton in the month of March

Of the six goals Tranmere have scored against Brighton since Ronnie Moore's return to the club, Chris Greenacre has scored three

On This Day:

2008: Ronnie Moore's Tranmere secure a 2-1 Friday night home win over Swindon Town at Prenton Park

2005: Eugene Dadi gets sent off for Tranmere as they lose 4-2 at home to Doncaster on Easter Monday in League One

1998: Tranmere win 3-0 away to Stoke under John Aldridge in Division One

Tranmere Rovers have played sixteen previous fixtures on March 28th, picking up eight wins, four draws and four defeats. They have scored 31 goals times whilst they have conceded on 21 occasions.

The Form Book:

Brighton last 6 home games: WLLDLL
Tranmere last 6 away games: WLDLLW

Brighton and Hove Albion's home form this season has hardly been anything to shout about, with the Seagulls picking up just one win in their last six home games and two in their last twelve at the Withdean Stadium.

They started their six match sequence with successive defeats, firstly losing 4-2 at home to high flying Peterborough United, though they had lead the game 1-0, before four days later they lost 2-0 at the hands of struggling Carlisle United.

A 1-1 draw against another struggling side, Northampton Town, followed in their next game at the Withdean Stadium, before a stunning 4-0 defeat at the hands four days later heaped misery upon Brighton who by now had sacked manager Mickey Adams.

Lloyd Owusu scored in Brighton's next home game, but it wasn't enough in a 3-1 defeat to Southend United, before in their next home game, having appointed Russell Slade as manager, Brighton beat Slade's former team Yeovil Town 5-0 at the Withdean Stadium, Cox and Forster both scoring twice as well as a penalty from former Rochdale striker Glen Murray.

Other notable results at home for Brighton this season include wins over Hartlepool United (2-1), Leicester City (3-2) and Millwall (4-1).

They have played nineteen home games this season but picked up just four wins and five draws, to go with ten defeats, meaning they have managed to accumulate a total of seven points from an available 57 in home games this season.

Impressive results on the road for the Seagulls this season include victories over Swindon Town (2-0), Millwall (1-0) and Southend United (2-0).

Russell Slade's side come into this fixture in 22nd place in League One, having played 37 games and picked up 35 of an available 111 points, thanks to eight wins, eleven draws and eighteen defeats.

Tranmere's last six away games have seen a real mix bag of results, with two wins, two draws and two defeats, a tale which really tells the story of their season on the road; inconsistent and not enough wins.

Indeed, Tranmere have picked up just five away wins this season and it's no secret to anybody that it has been their away form that has been their downfall this season, as they strive to get into the play-offs.

Tranmere started their six match sequence with a superb 1-0 win away at Colchester United, Ryan Shotton scoring a second half goal in the re-arranged game for Rovers, before four days later Tranmere travelled to Essex again, but this time were less than successful as they lost 2-1 at Roots Hall against Southend United.

Tranmere then suffered a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Hartlepool United before drawing 1-1 with Northampton Town, Bas Savage scoring the Tranmere goal.

Rovers then lost 1-0, disappointingly, in a Tuesday night fixture at the league's bottom club Cheltenham Town, before a handful of days later completely turning their form around as they deservedly beat Oldham Athletic 2-0, Charlie Barnett and Ian Moore with the Tranmere goals.

Other notable away results for Tranmere this season include wins over Huddersfield Town (2-1), Carlisle United (2-1) and Leyton Orient (1-0).

In all but one of Tranmere's away wins this season, they have kept a clean sheet in the first half, with the 2-1 win at Huddersfield being the exception to the rule.

Tranmere have played nineteen away games this season and picked up 19 points from an available 57, thanks to five wins, four draws and ten defeats.

Impressive results at Prenton Park for Ronnie Moore's side this season include wins over Leicester City (2-0), Leeds United (2-1), Scunthorpe United (2-0) and Carlisle United (4-1).

Tranmere come into this game in seventh place in League One, having picked up 62 of an available 117 points, thanks to eighteen wins, eight draws and thirteen defeats from their 39 games.

Double Hit:

Current Tranmere striker Bas Savage started last season at Brighton before a mid-campaign move to Millwall and then joining Tranmere in pre-season.

Made famous for his moon-walking antics upon goalscoring, Savage started his career with Reading, where he made eighteen appearances and as well as failing to score, he failed to impress.

In 2005, after three years at Reading, in which time he also went out on loan to Wycombe and Bury, Big Bas joined Bristol City on a one-year contract, but just one goal in 23 games meant he was on the move again in September 2006, joining Gillingham on a free transfer.

Fifteen games at Gillingham provided just one goal and it was not until he moved to Brighton and Hove Albion in January 2007 that Savage really began to enjoy his football.

He scored ten times for the southern coast side in fourty-two games and became a firm fan favourite at the Withdean Stadium, not only because of his goal celebration, but because of his general love for the game, excellent hold up play and silky skills.

In February 2008, Savage joined Millwall on a free transfer but despite scoring twice in eleven games for the Lions, he was never a hit at the New Den liike he had been at Brighton, and in the summer he was released.

After a successful trial at Prenton Park, Savage signed for Tranmere in July 2008 and he has so far missed just one game for Tranmere this season as he has become an integral part of the team.

Making an impressive 44 appearances so far this season, Savage has scored just seven goals, a record he needs to improve, and was recently offered an extra incentive to score this season, with manager Ronnie Moore saying that if Savage nets a hatrick, he will dye his hair the colour of Bas' choice.

One To Watch: Nicky Forster

Brighton number nine Nicky Forster is a proven goalscorer at League One level and will need to be watched very carefully by the Tranmere defence on Saturday afternoon.

Forster started his career with Hythe before earning a move into the Football League with Gillingham in 1992.

Staying at Priestfield for two years, Forster was a success with the Gills, as he played 78 times for the Kent based club and scored 26 goals, before earning a £100,000 move to Brentford in 1994.

After two and a half years at Brentford, in which time Forster scored 47 goals and played 136 games, he moved away from Griffin Park to Birmingham City for £700,000.

However, Forster's two and a half seasons with the St. Andrews side were a struggle as he failed to ever make himself a first team regular.

Mainly appearing from the substitutes bench, Forster scored just twelve times in 75 games for the club before joining Reading for £650,000 in 1999.

Forster stayed with the Royals for six years and become a firm fan favourite. He played over 200 games for the club over that period and always worked hard. His effort was rewarded with 67 goals before in 2005 he was released and joined Ipswich on a free transfer.

Forster spent a season at Portman Road, scoring eight times in 25 games before signing for Hull for a fee of £250,000.

With the Tigers, Forster again struggled, scoring just six times for the then Championship club in 37 appearances.

But in June 2006 he moved south again as he joined Brighton for £75,000 and he has never looked back since.

The clubs leading scorer with fifteen goals this season, Forster has scored 34 goals in 85 games for the club, the most prolific he has been in his career.

A natural goalscorer, especially inside the box, Forster, who has exactly 200 career goals to his name since joining Gillingham in 1992, is a poacher inside the area but well capable of scoring from outside the box too.

Wearing the number nine shirt for the Seagulls, Forster, 35, has great work rate and commitment to the cause and will need to be marked very carefully this Saturday.

Around League One:

The play off race is getting ever more exciting, and this weekend there are plenty more key fixtures as teams look to cement their place in the Top six before the start of May.

The tastiest game of the weekend takes place at Elland Road, where Leeds United, fifth, host fourth placed MK Dons. United are three points ahead of Tranmere, the Dons seven points clear, though both teams could quite well be caught by Rovers before the season is out.

Sixth placed Scunthorpe are without a game due to their involvement in the Johnstone's Paints Trophy final at Wembley, meaning Rovers could overtake the Iron who are just two points above them in the League One table, though Tranmere will have played two games more.

At the very top of the table, first placed Leicester City have another big game as they travel to second placed Peterborough United, with the Posh seven points behind Leicester in the table with seven games left, whilst third placed Millwall travel to a revitalised Crewe who are now seventeenth in the table.

Eighth placed Oldham are there points behind Tranmere following a 1-1 draw at Cheltenham in midweek, and they travel to Leyton Orient this weekend, whilst ninth placed Southend host Hartlepool on Friday night.

At the other end of the table, a win for Brighton over Tranmere could move them to within six points of safety in the League One relegation zone, whilst Carlisle host Northampton in another huge game between two sides just above the relegation zone.

Team News:

Tranmere Rovers are without Ryan Shotton for this game as the on-loan defender sits out the first game of a two match ban, whilst this game has come just too early for Chris Greenacre. Andy Taylor could return to the side after missing out through injury at Oldham last weekend, though Aaron Cresswell may well retain his place in the team, whilst Ian Moore is doubtful, meaning former Brighton player Bas Savage could be partnered in attack by either Terry Gornell or Craig Curran.

Jones' Prediction: Brighton 1-2 Tranmere Rovers

Tranmere Rovers have already completely back to back away wins once this season, with victories over Carlisle United and Leyton Orient, and they will be looking to repeat that feat this weekend against Brighton.

The Seagulls are fighting for their lives at the wrong end of League One, but they have had some terrible results of late and are clearly struggling to retain their League One status for next season.

Brighton may be fighting, but Tranmere are too, with Ronnie Moore's side desperate for three points as they look to book their place in the play-offs come May, and a win here would do Rovers' chances of finishing in the top six the power of good.

The pitch at the Withdean Stadium is big and Tranmere will need to use all the width they can, getting wingers Sonko and Barnett on the ball as much as possible.

Rovers play best when they get their two wide men on the ball and putting crosses into the box, as was proven on Saturday when Barnett actually netted one of the goals from a cross out wide.

Should Tranmere do this, then they could well profit against a Brighton defence that has been struggling to keep clean sheets [just two in their last twelve games] and as such will be low on confidence.

Rovers though still need to be strong at the back, with Brighton having several players who could cause Tranmere damage and score goals.