Nottingham Forest vs. Tranmere Rovers match preview

Taylor hoping to score against his old club this weekend
This weekend see's the start of a difficult month for Tranmere, as they take on Nottingham Forest at the City Ground in Coca-Cola League One.

In the three league games proceeding the Forest game, Rovers take on Oldham Athletic, Doncaster Rovers and Swansea City and will be desperate to get off to a good start against a Forest side who lie just two points behind them in the league table.

Nottingham Forest team profile:

Formed: 1865

Ground: The City Ground

Manager: Colin Calderwood

Nickname: The Tricky Trees

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

Previous Meetings:

Last season, Tranmere and Forest played out two draws as they served up just two goals between them in the two League One fixtures.

On 23rd September 2006, Tranmere, in second place, took on Nottingham Forest in first place, the first time the two sides met last season.

However, despite all the anticipation and excitement surrounding what looked set to be a good game, the two sides only managed to play out a 0-0 draw, with Gavin Ward keeping Rovers in the game in the final minutes as Forest surged forward and piled on the pressure in front of their travelling fans.

A few months later on 30th December of the same year, the two sides again played out a draw as this time the match finished 1-1.

Rovers were, going into this game, unbeaten on the road since late October and indeed had three consecutive draws before this game, but it was somewhat of a surprise when the visitors, then eighth in the table, took the lead through a Gareth Taylor header, who brilliantly headed Paul McLaren's cross into the net.

However, the league leaders piled on the pressure and with little time to go in the game, James Perch equalised for Forest as he shot from distance following Agogo's lay-off.

Vital Stats:

Tranmere have never won away to Nottingham Forest, with five draws and five defeats

Rovers have won just twice in 20 games against the former European Champions

Tranmere have scored just once in their last five games against Forest, and have not won any of these games

In 20 games against Forest, Tranmere average just 0.9 goals per game (18 goals in total)

Rovers haven't won any of their last eight games against the City Ground side

On This Day:

2006: Rovers win 3-1 in a Friday night encounter against Millwall

1992: John King's Tranmere win 3-0 at home to Southend in Division One

1928: Southport are hammered 6-1 by Tranmere in Division Three North

From a total of 17 games on November 3rd, Tranmere have collected seven wins to go with five defeats and five draws. Between 1976 and 1984, Tranmere played five games on November 3rd and increadibly amassed four 0-0 draws and a 1-0 win.

The Form Book:

Nottingham Forest last 6 home games: DDWWLL
Tranmere last 6 away games: LWDWDW

After a difficult start to the season, Nottingham Forest have pulled themselves together and are now becoming a force to be reckoned with in Coca-Cola League One.

With boss Colin Calderwood at the helm, Forest's recent home form in the league has been excellent, as they go into the game with a run of four unbeaten home matches behind them.

The former Premiership side started the season at the City Ground against Bournemouth, and only managed to pick up a 0-0 draw against the struggling southerners. This was then followed be a 2-1 home defeat to Leeds two weeks later, a match played in front of a crowd of 25,237, and Forest fans began to get worried about how their season might pan out.

However, since the Leeds defeat, Forest are unbeaten at home in the league at least. They first Gillingham 4-0 in a very one sided affair, a match in which Junior Agogo scored a hatrick, before following this up with a 2-1 victory against Hartlepool in their next home match.

City fans however will be hoping for goals on Saturday, as they come into this game on the back of two consecutive 0-0 draws, firstly against Doncaster Rovers before drawing 0-0 with Oldham on Tuesday night.

In the cup competitions, Forest lost 3-2 at home to Peterborough United in the Johnstone's Paints Trophy before losing by the same scoreline against local rivals, Leicester City, in a re-arranged Carling Cup tie two weeks later.

From six home league games, Forest have won two, drawn three (all 0-0) and lost one. They have picked up a total of nine points from an available 18.

Notable away results for Calderwood's side include wins over Cheltenham Town (3-0) and Yeovil Town (3-0).

Tranmere meanwhile have had an excellent start to the season on the road, and only saw their unbeaten start in the league come to an end on their last away outing when they were defeated 1-0 by Swindon Town after a late goal from Barry Corr.

Prior to that however, Tranmere were on a five match unbeaten run away from home in the league, a run which easily bettered their home form.

Ronnie Moore's first away game of the season was a clash with Gillingham Town at the Priestfield Stadium, and Tranmere picked up a superb 2-0 win in the match thanks to goals from Greenacre and Davies.

They followed this up with a 1-1 draw away to Yeovil before picking up another great win, this time at Carlisle where Craig Curran got the only goal in a 1-0 win for Tranmere.

Rovers followed this up with another draw on the road two weeks later as they drew 1-1 with Cheltenham Town before getting their best result of the season to date in the final match of their five match unbeaten run on the road as they won 2-1 away to Southend thanks to goals from Chorley and Taylor either time of half time.

In the Carling Cup First Round, Tranmere played Stockport County away from home and were defeated by a late Matty McNeil goal.

From a total of six away league games, Tranmere have picked up three wins, two draws and a defeat, meaning they have 11 points from an available 18.

Notable results at Prenton Park for Ronnie Moore and his side include wins over Brighton and Hove Albion (2-0) and Huddersfield Town (3-0).

Double Hit:

One man who has represented both Tranmere Rovers and Nottingham Forest in recent years is Irish defender John Thompson, who is currently playing for Oldham Athletic in Coca-Cola League One.

Thompson had two spells on loan at Tranmere last season from Nottingham Forest, and impressed the Rovers fans greatly with his performances at both centre-back and right-back.

The Irishman started his career at Nottingham Forest where he made almost 150 appearances and scored seven goals in the process. However, after struggling to break into Colin Calderwood's team during the 2006/07 season, Thommo joined Tranmere on loan in October 2006.

He made his debut in a 1-0 home win over Bournemouth and went on to make a further six appearances for club and with Tranmere not losing a league game whilst he was in the side, but after Tranmere had extended Thompson's loan deal, he was mysteriously called back to the City Ground by Calderwood.

After making six more appearances for Forest in the season, of which one was against Tranmere, Thompson returned to Prenton Park in February 2007, on loan for the remainder of the season.

However, in his come back game against Doncaster, a 2-0 win for Tranmere, Thompson came off injured and was not in action again until April. He returned however and made six more appearances for the club.

At the end of the season, with his contract up at the City Ground, Thompson was released and Tranmere looked poised to sign the Irishman who had been so impressive in his time on the Wirral. However, he was snapped up by Oldham where he has made eight appearances so far and failed to impess the Boundary Park faithful.

At 26, the six foot tall defender still has a great deal of his career ahead of him and could well go on to play at a higher level than League One. He is a good passer of the ball and a great tackler.

One To Watch: Kris Commons

One of the leading scorers in Coca-Cola League One, left-midfielder Kris Commons is undoubtably one of the most talented players in the division.

The Englishman in his fourth season with Forest having joined his hometown club in 2004 from Stoke City where he started to make a name for himself as a trainee.

Indeed, Commons made 46 appearances and scored five goals in four years with the Potters before joining Forest for £300,000.

Since joining the Tricky Tree's, Commons has gone on to play a pivitol role for the club and has now made 130 league and cup appearances for the club, weighing in with 35 goals from midfield as well.

The 24 year old wears the number eight shirt for Forest and last season he was selected in the Coca-Cola League One team of the year for his left-midfield position.

So far this season, Commons has been on form as well, scoring seven goals in 16 games, of which three came in one match, a 3-0 win away to Cheltenham Town, impressive for a midfielder.

A very creative player, Commons has one of the best left-foot's outside the Premier league. He has both a wonderful crossing ability and a wonderful passing ability, whilst his positional sense often gets him in the position to score goals as well. Through-out his career, Commons was always chipped in with spectacular goals as well, and it was he who provided the cross from which Gareth Taylor scored when Rovers lost 1-0 at the City Ground during the 2005/06 season.

Around League One:

Again, there are some massive fixtures in Coca-Cola League One this weekend as a number of teams go into their fixtures with a chance of topping the table until the next set of fixtures on Tuesday.

The fixtures start on Friday night, when Roberto Martinez's in form Swansea side take on 18th placed Gillingham at the Liberty Stadium. Swansea currently lie just one point off league leaders Carlisle with a game in hand on the Cumbrian side, but indeed, whilst a victory for the Gills could leave them around mid-table come the end of the match, a defeat for Swansea could mean the slip out of the promotion places all together by 5:00pm on Saturday.

City however go into the game high on confidence following a brilliant smash and grad 2-1 away win at Yeovil last weekend, whilst Gillingham go into the game on a run of six consecutive away defeats.

Following a 4-2 home win against Millwall last weekend and following the departure of assistant-manager Gus Poyet to Spurs, Leeds United have arugably their toughest game of the season so far as they take on Carlisle United at Brunton Park.

Carlisle are currently top of Coca-Cola League One on 24 points from 13 games and with a goal difference of +10, whilst Leeds could move into the play-off places, or even automatic spaces, for the very first time this season if they win at Carlisle, which would be a fantastic achievement after the side started the season on -15 points. However, Leeds will have to do without Dennis Wise for the match as the manager serves a touchline ban, given for comments made about a referee earlier in the season.

Southend United also have a tough fixture this weekend as they play Northampton Town at Sixfields. Steve Tilson's side, currently fifth in League One and on 22 points, are just one behind Tranmere, Leyton Orient and Swansea, who are all on 23 points, but they come into the game on the back of a 1-0 home defeat to leaders Carlisle United last weekend.

The only other team left in the play-off places is Leyton Orient, who take on Oldham Athletic at Brisbane Road this weekend. Following a 4-2 away defeat to Doncaster, which brought to an end a terrible October for the O's, Martin Ling will be hoping his side can get back to winning ways at home, where on their last showing they won 3-1 against struggling Port Vale. Oldham meanwhile drew 0-0 with Nottingham Forest at the City Ground in their last game.

At the other end of the table, there are big games for Bristol Rovers, who face Cheltenham Town and Port Vale who travel to Huddersfield, whilst managerless Millwall continue their fight against relegation against Hartlepool United.

Team News:

Again, Tranmere will be without long term absentee's John Mullin (ankle) and Steven Davies (knee) whilst winger Chris Shuker is again doubtful with a thigh strain. However, some good news for Ronnie Moore is the return of midfielder Adnan Ahmed from international duty after the Pakistani played both of his countries World Cup qualifying matches against Iraq last week.

Jones' Prediction: Nottingham Forest 1-2 Tranmere Rovers