Chesterfield vs. Tranmere Rovers match preview

In FA Cup days gone by, Rovers have been the giant killers - can they go on another cup run this season?
All the excitement starts this weekend, as Coca-Cola League One teams enter the FA Cup for the first time this season, with the 2007/08 F.A. Cup kicking off with the First Round Proper.

There are a number of exciting ties around the grounds this weekend, as whilst Tranmere make the trip to Chesterfield, Altringham host Millwall and Hereford face Leeds United.

A bumper crowd is expected at Saltergate, where Tranmere take on the Spireites, after Tranmere Rovers announced that they would put on free coach travel for all Rovers fans wishing to travel to the game. It is believed that Rovers will take in excess of 1,500 fans to the game with around 20 coaches making the two-and-a-half hour journey to Derbyshire.

Chesterfield team profile:

Formed: 1866

Ground: Saltergate

Manager: Lee Richardson

Nickname: The Spireites

Season Finish 2006/07: 21st (Coca-Cola League One)

Previous Meetings:

Last season, Tranmere did the double over Chesterfield in Coca-Cola League, as the Spireites headed towards relegation from the division.

The meeting at Saltergate was in August as Tranmere made the Bank Holiday weekend trip to Derbyshire for the second consecutive season, and picked up the same result as the season before.

The game ended in Tranmere's first away win of the season as they picked up a good 2-0 win away at Saltergate in their bid for promotion.

After a dull first half, Tranmere took the lead on the stroke of half time as two Chesterfield players failed to prevent John Mullin's shot into the goal, as it bounced in off defender Aaron Downes for an own goal.

On 67-minutes, Tranmere doubled their lead as Gareth Taylor scored his first goal for the club, the striker lobbing the Chesterfield 'keeper from 25-yards as Roche came off his line to try and collect Paul McLaren's looped pass.

At Prenton Park in March, Tranmere picked up three more points thanks to another 2-0 win as they pushed further for a finish in the League One play-offs.

Rovers this time took the lead on 21-minutes as John Mullin fired the ball into the top corner from inside the area after collection Chris Greenacre's lay off.

It as a deserved lead, and knowbody could complain when Rovers doubled their advantage on 73-minutes, Greenacre the scorer on this occassion as Rovers' leading marksman put Chris Shuker's cross into the empty net from close range.

Vital Stats:

Tranmere have won five out of their last six games against Chesterfield with the other fixture finishing in a 2-2 draw at Saltergate

Rovers have scored two goals in each of their last four games against Chesterfield at Saltergate

Tranmere have won just eight of 47 meetings between the two sides at Saltergate, with the Spireites picking up 28 home wins

In four previous FA Cup ties between the two teams, Tranmere have a record of three wins and a draw

Chesterfield have 95 goals in 47 home games against Tranmere

On This Day:

2001: Dave Watson's Tranmere side pick up a magnificent 2-1 away win at QPR in Division Two

1989: A 2-1 home win over Walsall ensures John King's Tranmere side stay top of Division Three

1984: Tranmere lose 4-2 away to Chesterfield in Division Four

The Form Book:

Chesterfield Last 6 Home Games: DDDLWL
Tranmere Last 6 Away Games: LLWDWD

After slipping down to Coca-Cola League Two last spring, Chesterfield have had anything but an easy time at Saltergate in their bid to return to League One.

Now lying fifth place in the League Two table, Lee Richardson's side have record just two home wins in eight games this season and it has been their away form which has kept them fighting in the play-offs.

The Spireites indeed drewe their first home game 1-1 against Stockport County in the league and then defeated Wycombe Wanderers 2-0 two weeks later as their bid for promotion began to get going.

They carried that form forward too, as in their next home league game, the Derbyshire side beat Bury 3-1, with Steve Fletcher netting twice along with a goal from Jack Lester.

Since though, 'Field are without a home win in four games. Firstly, they were defeated by Barnet, losing 1-0, before drawing 2-2 with Macclesfield Town.

The result against Macclesfield has been followed by two further draws, with the Spireites having a 1-1 stalemate with Dagenham and a 2-2 draw against league new-boys Morecambe.

They have played just one home cup game this season, a Johnstone's Paints Trophy first round match against Hartlepool, and Chesterfield lost this fixture 3-1.

From eight home games this season, Chesterfield have picked up two wins and four draws to go with two home defeats.

Notable away results for the Spireites include wins over Lincoln City (4-2), Wrexham (4-0), Shrewsbury (3-2) and Mansfield (3-1).

Like Chesterfield, Tranmere have had a terrific start on the road this season, and it is only their last two away fixtures which have made their away form look poorer than it has truely been.

Rovers first away league game of the season saw them defeat Gillingham 2-0 at the Priestfield stadium before grabbing a late equaliser, courtesy of a Steve Davies free-kick, in a 1-1 draw away to Yeovil.

They followed this up seven days later with a terrific 1-0 win away to Carlisle as Craig Curran got the only goal of the game before drawing 1-1 away to Cheltenham, this after Rovers had held a half time lead.

Their best result of the season undoubtably came in their next away game, as Tranmere won 2-1 away at Roots Hall against Southend. Ben Chorley handed Rovers a the lead before Gareth Taylor headed Tranmere's winner after half time following a 43rd minute equaliser from Shrimpers player Adam Barrett.

Since this result though, Tranmere are without a win on the road, following two consecutive defeats. First, Rovers lost 1-0 thanks to a late Barry Corr goal at Swindon before a dissapointing display at the City Ground ended in a 2-0 defeat for Tranmere, Agogo and Tyson getting the goals for Nottingham Forest.

Tranmere have played just one away game in the Cup competitions this season, this a 1-0 defeat away to Stockport in the Carling Cup first round.

From a total of eight away games this season, Tranmere have picked up three wins, two draws and three defeats.

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

Double Hit:

Chesterfield and Tranmere are two teams that a number of players have represented recently, including Wayne Allison, Paul Hall and Kevin Gray.

Another such player is former Rovers left sided player Shane Nicholson, who joined Chesterfield from Tranmere in 2004.

Nicholson started his career with home town club Lincoln City where he made nearly 150 appearances for the club after making his debut in the 1988/89 season.

In 1992, Shane left Lincoln for Derby for a fee of £100,000 and again Nicholson was to stay with his club for four years, making 87 appearances, before joining West Brom in 1996 for £150,000.

He made 60 league and cup appearances in two years with the Baggies before moving to Saltergate on a free transfer for his first spell with Chesterfield.

This lasted just a year, as he made 25 appearances for the Spireites before moving on to Stockport and Sheffield United, again on free transfers, making a further 109 appearances in four years with the two clubs.

In 2002, Nicholson signed for Tranmere Rovers, then managed by Dave Watson. Playing at either left-back or left-midfield for Rovers, the 5'10 tall Nicholson made 64 appearances for Tranmere under two different managers (he never actually played under Watson who was sacked shortly after his arrival), but in 2004 Nicholson was on the move again, signing on a free-transfer for Chesterfield.

Nicholson remained at Chesterfield until the summer when he retired, having made 77 more appearances for the club and also spent time on loan at Boston and Lincoln last season.

One To Watch: Jack Lester

Striker Jack Lester could hardly have hoped for a better start at Chesterfield after he joined the Spireites from Nottingham Forest in the summer.

Lester started his career at Grimsby where he stayed for six years between 1994 and 2000. After scoring 25 league and cup goals for Grimsby in 168 appearances for the club (and spending time on-loan at then non-league club Doncaster in 1996), Lester joined Nottingham Forest for £300,000 aged 25 in 2000.

Lester had two spells at Forest, rejoining the club for £50,000 in 2004 after an 18-month spell at Sheffield United which yielded 16 goals in 50 appearances, whilst at Forest Lester netted on 38 occasions in 191 appearance before being released and joining Chesterfield in the summer.

Since joining the Spireites, the pacey strikers career has been reborn as he has netted an increadibly 14 goals in 16 games, including 13 league goals in 15 games.

Standing at 5'09" tall, Lester is not the best in the air but is deadly in front of goal and has good pace. Whilst scoring goals, he has created a number for Chesterfield this season also. In his last outing Lester scored a hatrick for Chesterfield in a 4-2 win over Lincoln.

The FA Cup This Weekend:

There are a number of exciting FA Cup ties this weekend, as the competition starts to swing into action with Coca-Cola League One and Two clubs entering the worlds oldest Cup competitions for the first time this season this weekend.

Non-League side Altringham have a glamour home tie against League One side Millwall whilst their is a West Country derby as Torquay take on Yeovil at Huish Park.

Leeds enter the competition at the First Round stage for the first time as they take on League Two side Hereford at The Bull Ring in a game which could well see a cup upset with the Bulls currently in good form in League Two.

Bournemouth, currently struggling in League One, have the unenviable task of making the long trip north to face non-league Barnet whilst Gainsborough Trinity host Hartlepool in another FA cup classic David vs. Goliath match.

The magic though, is everywhere this weekend, with many more big and interesting games between league and non-league clubs going on around the country.

All that matters to most team though is making it to the third round when the big boys come in. Good luck to every team involved in FA Cup action this weekend.

Team News:

Ronnie Moore once again has a number of injury worries ahead of what is a big game in Tranmere's season this weekend. Steve Davies (knee ligaments) is once again missing, and although he could make a return to first team football soon, John Mullin (ankle) is once again expected to miss out. Chris Shuker (thigh) could well be rested, meaning a start for Mike Jones, whilst Calvin Zola (hamstring) could return. Craig Curran may start in place of Chris Greenacre in attack.

Jones' Prediction: Chesterfield 0-2 Tranmere

Despite losing all of their last four cup games against League Two opposition in various trophies (Stockport, Morecambe, Peterbrough and Darlington the winners), Tranmere still have a definate chance of winning against a Chesterfield side who have so far struggled to hit form at Saltergate this season.

However, Rovers hae scored in just four of their last five games, and they will have to raise their performance dramatically after consecutive defeats against Oldham Athletic and Nottingham Forest.

If Rovers are to win, they will need at least one of their wingers, whether that be Shuker, Cooper or Jones, to hit top form, and they need to start converting the chances they've been having in front of goal.