Carlisle United vs. Tranmere Rovers match preview

Ronnie Moore hoping his side's defence can keep first away clean sheet of the season
The football season is now in full swing and as we enter October, Tranmere Rovers make another away trip of reasonably long distance, as they travel north to face Carlisle United.

The Blues have lost their lost three and will be looking to bounce back against Rovers, who themselves had a bitterly dissapointing defeat in their last outing. But with the away form looking good, this could be another chance for Tranmere to sneak back to the Wirral with three points.

Carlisle United team profile:

Formed: 1904

Ground: Brunton Park

Manager: John Ward

Nickname: The Blues

Season Finish 2006/07: 4th (Coca-Cola League One)

Previous Meetings:

Last season, Tranmere Rovers were the only team to complete an impressive double over the Cumbrians, with Carlisle losing just three home league games all season (as well as losing to Tranmere, they lost at home to Nottingham Forest and Southend, whom they beat away).

The first meeting between the two siees was on September 8th, when Carlisle lost at home in the league for the first time thanks to a solitary Craig Curran goal for Tranmere.

On as a substitute for Calvin Zola, who had come off with a hamstring injury early on, Curran scored a fantastic Tranmere break-away goal, his first of the season in the first half.

The goal came on 42-minutes, as Rovers counter attacked from a Carlisle corner, Chris Greenacre running down the left and bringing the ball under control before waiting and hitting a perfectly placed and timed ball to Shuker at the back post who could have shot himself. Instead though, and quite unselfishly, Shuker crossed to Curran on the other side of the goal who vollied the ball home.

Rovers and Carlisle next met on Boxing Day, when, again, Tranmere were the winners, although their victory was soured somewhat by a horrible knee injury to winger Chris Shuker, who has struggled to find full fitness and form ever since.

The match was watched by over 8,000 at Prenton Park, including a large number of travelling supporters from Cumbria, and the Tranmere fans weren't dissapointed as their team put in an excellent display to pick up a 2-0 win.

Rovers wasted no time in opening the scoring, with just fifteen minutes on the clock when Paul McLaren handed Tranmere the lead, although the goal could definately be counted as a lucky one!

McLaren took a short corner to on-loan Jennison Myrie-Williams before running to the edge of the area where he recieved the return pass. He unleashed a powerful long-range effort, only for his shot to take a massive deflection off former Tranmere player David Raven and loop into the net.

There was nothing lucky about Tranmere's second though, as Antony Kay put Rovers two up on the stroke of half-time with the goal which was voted Tranmere's best of the 07-08 season.

McLaren again took a corner and the ball was cleared only as far as Kay who was fifteen yards from goal. With his first touch, Kay gently lifted the ball over the oncoming defender with his right foot, before smashing the ball into the back of the net with his next touch, this on his left foot.

This gave Tranmere an unassailable 2-0 lead, giving them plenty of confidence going into their next couple of matches although it would be some time before they would play so well and win again.

Vital Stats:

In nine of the last ten meetings between these two teams, at least one side has kept a clean sheet

In 33 trips to Carlisle, Tranmere have come away with eight wins, having suffered a defeat on sixteen occasions

Rovers have won three and lost four against Carlisle in October meetings between the two sides, with a total of twenty-two goals being scored in the seven matches

Tranmere have only never won three successive league games against Carlisle, something they would put right if they win this fixture

In 70 previous matches, these two sides, between them, have scored an impressive 219 goals

On This Day:

2001: Dave Watson's Tranmere hammer Blackpool 4-0 at Prenton Park ona Thursday night infront of the ITV Cameras

1997: Tranmere beat Norwich City 2-0 at Prenton Park in Division One

1996: An exciting Friday night fixture on the Wirral sees Tranmere scrape past Portsmouth with a 4-3 win

Tranmere have played fourteen fixtures on Ocotober 4th, picking up eight wins, four draws and only two defeats. They have scored twenty-five goals and conceded just fifteen.

The Form Book:

Carlisle last six matches: LLLWWL
Tranmere last six matches: LDWLWW

Of late, Carlisle United's form as been particularly poor and it is surprising to see one of the early promotion favourites now lying seventh in the table after a blistering start to the season.

United started the season on the road and looked in good form as goals from Carlton (x2) and Bridge-Wilkinson meant they picked up a 3-2 win at Bristol Rovers, followed by a 1-0 away League Cup win against Shrewsbury.

The good form continued with another high-scoring win over Crewe Alexandra, the game ending 4-2 thanks to strikes from Graham (x2), Dobie and Hackney, before a long trip south brought them a 0-0 draw and a point against Leyton Orient.

A 4-0 defeat in the League Cup again in London, this time against QPR, who knocked Aston Villa out in the next round of the competition, followed, before Carlisle picked up their most recent win, a 2-1 victory over Southend on September 6th.

Three defeats followed for John Ward's side, starting with a 2-1 defeat at high-flying Scunthorpe, and then a 2-0 defeat against Leeds United, before a dissapointing September was rounded off with a 2-1 defeat at Walsall.

From their opening eight league games, Carlisle have picked up thirteen of an available twenty-four points, thanks to four wins, one draw and three defeats. At home, they have won three of their four fixtures, meaning they have picked up nine of an available twelve points.

It is fair to say that Tranmere have had an incosistent start to the season, which is the reason they currently find themselves thirteenth in the League One table.

Rovers started the season poorly, losing 3-1 in their first league game at Swindon Town, before being knocked out of the Carling Cup with an undeserved 2-0 defeat at Grimsby Town.

A first victory of the season followed as Craig Curran netted in a 1-0 over Hartlepool United, before Tranmere travelled to Leicester City and despite putting in a good display, they lost 3-1, with Chris Shuker netting the Tranmere goal.

Three home matches in a week then provided two wins for Tranmere, with Rovers firstly beating Northampton Town 4-1, despite going 1-0 down in the game, before an Edrissa Sonko goal, his first for the club, helped Tranmere beat Accrington Stanley 1-0 in the First Round of the Johnstone's Paints Trophy.

However, the third home game saw Tranmere slip to a dissapointing and controversial 1-0 defeat to Oldham Athletic, with Steven Jennings having a perfectly legitimate goal ruled out for Rovers, before Tranmere picked up their first away win of the season at Huddersfield Town, as they came from behind to win 2-1.

Ronnie Moore's side then travelled to Peterborough and Chris Greenacre put Rovers 2-0 up before they were pegged back to 2-2, whilst in their most recent game, Tranmere lost 4-3 to Colchester United, with a dissapointing defensive display, coupled with some stunning strikes from the Colchester players, being the cause for Tranmere's downfall.

From their opening eight league games, Tranmere have picked up ten of an available twenty-four points, thanks to three wins, one draw and five defeats. Away from Prenton Park, they have won one and drawn one of four games, meaning they have picked up four of an available twelve points.

Double Hit:

Pacey winger Jennison Myrie-Williams is currently on-loan at Carlisle United, having spent a large proportion of last season on-loan at Tranmere Rovers.

Myrie-Williams is a graduate of the Bristol City academy, where he made his debut during the 2005-06 season. However, he has found appearances limited with his parent club, having made just thirty-five appearances in four seasons a professional at Ashton Gate.

Therefore, the youngster has spent a lot of time out on-loan, starting with a spell at Cheltenham Town at the start of the 2007/08 season.

Here, he made thirteen appearances, scoring once, before returning to Bristol. However, shortly afterwards he was out on-loan again, this time joining Ronnie Moore at Tranmere Rovers, who had lost Steve Davies for the majority of the season with a knee injury.

Myrie-Williams stayed with Tranmere from November right through until the end of the season, becoming somewhat of a love or hate player with the Tranmere fans.

He made twenty-six appearances for Tranmere and scored three goals, including a superb solo goal in a 2-0 win at Elland Road against Leeds United for Tranmere in Ferbuary 2008.

Jennison Myrie-Williams
However, he spent much of his time at Tranmere out of position on the right-wing, despite the fact that he is very left-footed. It was for this reason, perhaps, that Myrie-Williams failed to ever find consistent form at Prenton Park and was very hit and miss.

He showed plenty of pace and skill, but often a final ball or end product was lacking, often because he had to cut back from his right foot on to his left to deliver the ball.

The start of this season again saw the twenty-year old fail to get in the Bristol City side, and he returned to Cheltenham on loan for a month in August, making a further five appearances and scoring once.

Then, in mid-September, he joined Carlisle United on-loan. Carlisle manager John Ward had had Myrie-Williams on-loan at Cheltenham, where he was manager, last season, and had clearly been impressed enough to secure the player's services again.

So far, Myrie-Williams has made two appearances for Carlisle, although these have both been from the bench, and Carlisle have lost both games.

Able to play in attack or on the wing, Myrie-Williams is quick, skillful and a confident player. Should he play against Tranmere on Saturday, it will mean he has played against Tranmere for all the clubs he has represented, except, of course, Tranmere!

One To Watch: Danny Graham

Former Middlesborough striker Danny Graham joined Carlisle part way through the 2006/07 season and has been a key player ever since.

Starting his career with the Teeside club, Graham struggled to get an run in the side and made just twenty-one appearances, scoring twice, over a four year stint with the club, that also included loan spells with Darlington, Derby, Leeds and Blackpool, where he also failed to impress.

However, when Carlisle picked up Graham on January 1st 2007, things suddenly clicked for the striker, and he started scoring goals and putting in performances of good quality.

In eleven appearances during his loan spell with the club, he netted seven times, impressing players, management and fans alike, so much so that he joined the club permanently on a free-transfer that summer.

Last season, Graham forged a hugely successful and prosperous partnership with ex-Blackburn man Joe Garner, who has since joined Nottingham Forest for over £1,000,000, with Graham netting seventeen and Garner fourteen goals through the season.

However, the loss of Garner has not effected Graham, who has started this season on fire also, netting six goals in his nine goals, including a hatrick in the 4-1 win over Yeovil Town in August.

In 73 games for Carlisle, the Carlisle number nine has scored thirty goals, not bad for somebody who was picked up on a free-transfer.

Standing at just under six foot, Graham is a player who is very good in the penalty area and cannot be afforded too much time nor space when shooting.

Around League One:

As ever, there are some thoroughly tastey fixtures lined up in League One Saturday ahead of what promises to be yet another exciting weekend of football.

All the fun starts on Friday night though, where a Greater Manchester derby sees Stockport take on second placed Oldham Athletic at Edgely Park. After picking up just a point with a 1-1 draw against Huddersfield last weekend, Oldham will be keen to jump back above Leicester ahead of Saturday's fixtures whilst a win for Stockport would move them as high as seventh.

League leader Leicester City travel to Huddersfield, who are looking for just their second home win of the season and looking to pull away from the relegation zone, whilst third placed Scunthorpe United face a tricky trip to another lowly team, Leyton Orient.

Leeds United are away to Peterborough who scored two late goals to come from 1-0 down to beat MK Dons at Stadium MK last weekend, with the MK Dons taking on high-flying Millwall at the New Den, where a win could put The Lions top of the table.

Bottom club Hereford are at home to sixth placed Walsall, who will be looking to maintain the three point gap between themselves and seventh placed Carlisle, whilst twenty-first place Crewe host Northampton who are level on points but one point ahead of them in the League One table.

Team News:

Again, Tranmere manager Ronnie Moore should have a full squad to select from, with so far no players having reported to Les Parry with injuries that will keep them out of this fixture. Godwin Antwi played ninety minutes for the reserves on Wednesday as he continues to push for a first team place, whilst George O'Callaghan could start after impressing as a substitute against Colchester last Friday.

Jones' Prediction: Carlisle United 2-2 Tranmere Rovers

This game could well see lots of goals, with both sides having struggled defensively this season. Carlisle have kept just one clean sheet all season, whilst Tranmere have managed only two and indeed Rovers conceded four at home last Friday.

There is no doubt though that Ronnie Moore will have had his side working hard on their defensive work this week, and most likely John Ward at Carlisle also, although whilst Tranmere have recently been scoring plenty of goals, netting seven in their last three matches, Carlisle have struggled, with only two in the same amount of games.

The key for Tranmere could well be the performance of the midfield, especially after it went missing against Colchester last week. Jennings and Sonko were both off the ball, whilst Kay seemed to drift in and out of the game. This could mean either of Barnett or O'Callaghan being brought in should one of the midfielders be dropped, and this would certainly add extra attacking prowess and power to the Tranmere side, although the defensive side would be somewhat weaker.

Either way, Tranmere need to go and take the game to a Carlisle side who are looking out of sorts at the moment, lacking in confidence and struggling at the back. Should Tranmere get the first goal, this could well see United heads drop and put Rovers firmly in the driving seat as they look to make it three away games in a row without defeat.