Peterborough United vs. Tranmere Rovers match preview

Jennings set to return to Rovers midfield as Tranmere look to book place in Round Three
The F.A. Cup returns this weekend, with Tranmere Rovers one of 38 teams in F.A. Cup action this weekend, all hoping to get through to the third round where they could be drawn away to any of the Premier League's big clubs.

Rovers and Peterborough will both be battling hard for a place in the third round draw in what is sure to be a good game between two League One sides who have a good chance of promotion come May.


Peterborough United team profile:

Formed: 1934

Ground: London Road

Manager: Darren Ferguson

Nickname: The Posh

Season Finish 2006/07: 2nd (Coca-Cola League Two)

Previous Meetings:

Tranmere and Peterborough have already met once this season, this in Coca Cola League One when the two sides faced each other at London Road on September 20th.

Rovers battled hard in this match, and it took Ronnie Moore's side only seven minutes to take the lead, when striker Chris Greenacre netted his first of the season as he flicked an Ian Goodison cross into the net from the edge of the area.

On the half-hour mark, it was 2-0, Greenacre again the scorer, as this time the Peterborough defence stood still as a Bas Savage header looped over the Posh backline, with Greenacre running on to the loose ball and rounding 'keeper Lewis to score.

Peterborough got one back before half-time, striker MacKail-Smith making up for hitting the post in the opening moments of the game as he drifted in at the back-post unmarked and slotted a cross into the empty net.

After half-time, Tranmere should have sealed the game, Greenacre missing a chance much easier than the two he'd previously taken, whilst Sonko also put wide, before the home side started to dominate and eventually got their equaliser, Zakuani, on loan from Fulham, heading home a corner at the near post.

Vital Stats:

Tranmere have played four F.A. Cup ties against Peterborough and lost them all

In 24 previous trips to Peterborough, Tranmere have picked up four wins and eight draws, as well as losing on twelve occasions

Tranmere haven't won any of their last ten away games against the Posh, a run dating back to the 1985/86 season

Tranmere have never managed to score more than two goals in a match at London Road

Peterborough have won three out of five November meetings between the two sides

On This Day:

2003: Managed by Brian Little, Tranmere pick up a 1-0 win away at Grimsby in League One thanks to a second half goal from Gary Jones

1997: Tranmere slip to sixteenth in Division One after a 3-0 defeat away to Sunderland

1974: Rovers beat Hereford 6-1 in Division Three

Tranmere have played sixteen previous fixtures on this date, picking up five wins and two draws along with nine defeats. They have scored 27 goals and conceded 32 times in these sixteen matches.

The Form Book:

Peterborough last six home matches: WWWDLW
Tranmere last six away matches: LDLDWW

Darren Ferguson's Peterborough United come into this game on a ten match unbeaten run, having not lost a game since their Johnstone's Paints Trophy defeat to Dagenham in October.

Their six match sequence started with a superb 2-0 win over Leeds United, Boyd and MacKail-Smith the scorers after half-time, before that 1-0 loss to Dagenham.

Since though, Peterborough are unbeaten. Firstly, they drew 0-0 with struggling Brighton and Hove Albion before McLean (x2), Boyd and Whelpdale scored in a 4-0 win over Huddersfield.

MacKail-Smith was then twice on target in a 2-0 win over Hereford, one of the sides promoted to League One alongside Peterborough last season, before in their most recent home match, the Posh beat Colchester United 2-1 thanks to goals from MacKail-Smith and Boyd.

Other notable results at home this season for the Posh include wins over Bristol Rovers (5-4) and Leyton Orient (3-0), as well as a 2-2 draw with Tranmere Rovers.

They have played ten home matches this season, earning six wins, two draws and two defeats, as well as picking up 20 points from an available 27 in the league.

Impressive away results for Peterborough include wins over Walsall (2-1), Yeovil Town (1-0) and MK Dons (2-1).

Despite losing three of their first four league matches this season, Darren Ferguson's side have lost just one of their last fifteen games ahead of this match, winning ten of those fixtures, a run which has catapulted them up to fifth in the League One table after eighteen games, picking up 33 points from an available 52 in the process.

The Posh reached the second round of the F.A. Cup with an argueably lucky 1-0 win over AFC Hornchuch thanks to a late MacKail-Smith goal, a side Tranmere beat in the competition only a few years ago.

After a healthy run of form on the road, things have gone wrong for Ronnie Moore's Tranmere, who have now failed to score in each of their last four games away from Prenton Park.

The first match of their six match sequence saw Tranmere win 2-1 away at Carlisle United, courtesy of goals from Ian Moore and Ryan Shotton, before Chris Shuker scored the only goal in a 1-0 win over Leyton Orient.

Tranmere then drew 0-0 on a cold Tuesday night away to Stockport County, but their unbeaten away record, which stretched back five matches, was lost in their next away game when they were beaten 1-0 by MK Dons, although Rovers deserved a point from the match.

In the F.A. Cup first round, Tranmere then drew 0-0 with Accrington Stanley, forcing a replay with the League Two side, before in their most recent away game, Tranmere were beaten 1-0 by Yeovil Town, although Ronnie Moore's side had a large number of players missing for this game.

Other noteable results away from home this season for Tranmere include a 2-1 win at Huddersfield Town and a 2-2 draw with this weekends opponents, Peterborough United.

So far this season, Tranmere have played eleven away games, picking up three wins, three draws and five defeats. In the league, three wins and two draws from nine games mean they have picked up eleven of an available 27 points.

Impressive results at Prenton Park for Tranmere include wins against Scunthorpe United (2-0), Northampton Town (4-1) and Hartlepool United (1-0).

Ronnie Moore's side come into this game in ninth place in League One, with 27 points from an available 52 in their opening eighteen matches.

They reached the second round of this season's F.A. Cup via a replay, beating Accrington Stanley 1-0 at Prenton Park in front of the Setanta Sports cameras, this after the two sides had drawn a terrible game 0-0 at the Crown Ground.

Double Hit:

Colin Clarke is a former Northern Ireland international striker who represented both Tranmere Rovers and Peterborough United in his career.

Starting his career with Ipswich Town, Clarke failed to make an appearance for the club before moving on to Peterborough in 1981. He stayed with the Posh for three years, making 82 appearances and scoring eighteen times, as well as spending time on loan with Gillingham, before joining Tranmere in 1984.

Lasting just a year with the Rovers, Clarke managed an impressive 22 goals in 45 games, and it was to Tranmere's regret that he didn't stay for longer as he joined Bournemouth in 1985.

Again, Clarke was only with the club for a year, as after moving up from Division Four to Division Three, he netted 26 goals in 46 games and was quickly snapped up by Division One side Southampton.

A three year stay with the Saints saw him net 36 goals in 82 games before he re-joined Bournemouth and then laterly QPR and Portsmouth before retiring in 1993.

A terrific goalscorer, Clarke also scored 13 goals in 38 games for Northern Ireland before he retired from playing to take up coaching in the game he loves.

Indeed, Clarke is still in the game as a coach, and having managed the likes of FC Dallas in the MLS, he now coaches the Puerto Rico national team, as well as Puerto Rican league side the Puerto Rico Islanders.

One To Watch: Craig MacKail-Smith

Peterborough striker Craig MacKail-Smith is the clubs leading scorer so far this season, the 24-year old having netted fourteen goals from 21 appearances so far this season.

Starting his career with non-league Dagenham and Redbridge, now of course a Football League side, striker MacKail-Smith made himself a great reputation for his ability to score goals.

With 38 goals in 108 games for Dagenham, it wasn't going to be long before he was picked up by a Football League club, and indeed in January 2007 MacKail-Smith made the step up to League Two as he joined Peterborough for an undisclosed fee.

Since joining Peterborough, MacKail-Smith has gone from strength to strength as a footballer, forging great partnerships with other Peterborough strikers McLean and Boyd, as well as upping the amount of goals he scores.

He has now played 77 games for the Posh, scoring 41 goals, and whilst he scored against Tranmere earlier in the season, what is most worrying is that he has scored eight goals in five F.A. Cup games for Peterborough, including the winner against Hornchurch in the first round earlier this month.

Fast and direct, the long-blonde haired Peterborough number twelve has an eye for goal and will usually hit the target from inside the penalty area. He likes to drift out to the wing to get the ball and is also more than useful in the air.

The F.A. Cup Second Round:

As it always manages to, the F.A. Cup has thrown up a number of exciting fixtures this weekend, as non-league clubs look to continue their runs into the third round, whilst league clubs will just be happy to prevent a giant killing and get their name in the hat.

The weekends action starts on Friday night, with non-league Barrow chasing a place in Round Three against League Two side Brentford, in a match that could certainly see the under dog come out on top, whilst the nights other fixture sees Port Vale host Macclesfield in an all League Two affair.

On Saturday, the pick of the ties is Eastwood Town's home match against Wycombe Wanderers, whilst elsewhere first round giant killers Blyth Spartans are away to Bournemouth and Curzon Ashton, who knocked out Exeter in Round One, are away to Kidderminster.

Millwall host Aldershot and Alfreton travel to high-flying League One club Scunthorpe, whilst Grays Athletic host Carlisle United in a Round One replay, the match being played this weekend after a floodlight failure in the initial replay between the two sides. The winner will play Crewe on Wednesday.

On Sunday, one of the most eagerly awaited matches of the second round takes place as Histon, who knocked out Swindon in the first round, host Leeds United, live on television.

Team News:

For Tranmere, Steven Jennings returns after a two match suspension, whilst Ryan Shotton plays the final match of a three-month loan spell before he returns to Stoke City until January. Chris Greenacre is still struggling with a back problem, meaning striker Terry Gornell could start yet again, whilst Chris Shuker is definately out with the flu.

George O'Callaghan will be absent yet again, as will striker Craig Curran who is still struggling with a stomach muscle injury, whilst on-loan players Mark Wilson and John Johnson will not feature as their clubs have not permitted Tranmere to play them in the F.A. Cup.

Jones' Prediction: Peterborough 1-1 Tranmere Rovers

Peterborough are a very strong side, one who are very difficult to beat, and this will yet again be a tough test for Ronnie Moore and his side, especially with Shuker missing yet again.

Tranmere are likely to continue the 4-4-2 formation that brought them a 2-0 win over Scunthorpe in midweek, and this will hopefully see young striker Terry Gornell given another start upfront. The youngster is a free-scoring striker and with a run in the side he should be able to prove to manager Ronnie Moore that he has what it takes to play at this level, even at such a young age.

With his pace and strength, as well as Bas Savage alongside him, Tranmere definately have a strike partnership capable of disrupting the Peterborough defence, whilst the pace of Sonko and Moore on the wings will also provide outlets for Tranmere when in attack.

With Kay likely to partner Jennings in midfield, Rovers should be strong enough defensively, but Peterborough have a very strong attack and it will be very difficult for Tranmere to keep a clean sheet in this game.

It is though important that they go into this game with the right attitude. They don't want to be playing for a draw, as more often than not, this negative attitude sees teams lose matches. Rovers then must go down to London Road with the intent to win, booking their place in the third round as early as possible.