Port Vale vs. Tranmere match preview

Rovers looking to bounce back from Swansea misery
It's another big game in League One for Tranmere Rovers this weekend as Rovers take on Port Vale at Vale Park hoping to get their season back on track and push up towards that play-off place that they surrendered to Blackpool last weekend.

However, Port Vale are themselves in search of a play-off place as they lie 12th in the table, just six points of the final play-off place currently occupied by Blackpool.

Port Vale team profile:

Formed: 1876

Ground: Vale Park

Manager: Martin Foyle

Nickname: The Valliant's

Season Finish 2005/06: 13th (Coca-Cola League One)

Previous Meetings:

When the two sides met at Prenton Park earlier in the season, Ronnie Moore suffered his first home defeat as Tranmere manager despite a goal fifth goal of the season for Chris Greenacre.

The Valliant's took the lead on 31-minutes through Smith after Kevin Ellison gave the ball away from a Tranmere free-kick in front of the Vale box. Vale carried the ball forward before Smith netted from 20-yards.

Vale doubled their lead five minutes into first half injury time through front man Leon Constantine. The striker heading in from close range after Akpo Sodje had won a questionable free-kick at the Kop end.

Tranmere got themselves back into the game after half-time with a Chris Greenacre goal on 57-minutes as the striker rounded the goalkeeper before finishing, but ultimately the goal wasn't enough as Rovers lost the game 2-1.

Vital Stats:

Rovers have won 11 times in 42 visits to Port Vale

15 of the clubs 84 meetings have come in the League Cup, F.A. Cup or Football League Trophy

If Port Vale beat Rovers this weekend, it will be only the fourth time they have completed the double over their North West rivals

When Tranmere played on 17th March last season, they lost 2-1 to struggling Walsall and fans believed the team were destined for relegation to League Two

Rovers have lost eight of 16 previous matches on 17th March

The Form Book:

Port Vale last 6 home games: DWWDLD
Tranmere last 6 away games: LWLLLLD

Things have certainly picked up for Port Vale at home recently as they go into the match on a four match unbeaten run at Vale Park and just one defeat in their last nine.

Most recently on home soil, Martin Foyle's side drew with Cheltenham Town 1-1, this after a brilliant 4-2 win over high-flying Yeovil Town and an even better 3-0 win over Oldham Athletic, with Leon Constantine netting twice against The Glovers and once against The Latics.

Previous to this, Vale picked up a valuable 1-0 home win against Northampton Town who have one of the best away records in League One, this after a run of two matches without victory at home with a defeat to Bradford (1-0) and valuable point against Scunthorpe United (0-0).

Other notable results at home for Port Vale this season see them having defeated Leyton Orient (3-0), Blackpool (2-1), Brighton (2-1) and picking up an impressive 3-2 victory over Queens Park Rangers in the League Cup.

Port Vale have played a total of 18 homes games this season in the League, picking up nine victories, three draws and six defeats, meaning they have a total of 30 points from an available 54.

Ultimately it has been Tranmere's away form which could well cost them a play-off place at the end of the season as they have picked up just three points from their last five away games and just four away wins in the league all season.

Most recently on the road, Tranmere lost 3-1 to a Leyton Orient side who are fighting hard against relegation and their inconsistency on the road is shown perfectly by the fact that just seven days earlier they had defeated promotion chasing Yeovil 2-0 at Huish Park thanks to two goals from Chris Shuker after half time.

Before victory over Yeovil, Tranmere were seven without a win on the road, a run consisting of four consecutive draws followed by three consecutive defeats and stretching back to November 18 when Tranmere defeated Brighton and Hove Albion 1-0 at The Withdean Stadium.

The other four results in the six match sequence for Rovers saw them lose to Bristol City 3-2 having lead 2-0 at half time and also suffer defeats on consecutive weekends to Gillingham (2-0) and Oldham Athletic (1-0). Their last away game of 2006 saw them draw 1-1 with Nottingham Forest at the City Ground having lead 1-0.

Other notable results on the road for Tranmere this season see them having defeated Chesterfield (2-0) and Northampton Town (3-1), with Gareth Taylor netting once in each game.

One To Watch:

The player to watch from Port Vale is most certainly striker Leon Constantine, who has so far netted 21 times this season in 40 appearances, netting six times in his last five outings.

stands at 6'2 tall and is currently in his second season with The Valiants and has so far netted an impressive 33 times in 76 appearances for the club, picking up just four bookings in the process.

Constantine started his career at Millwall where he made just two appearances as well as making 14 appearances and scoring three goals in loan spells with Partick, Leyton Orient.

In August 2002 he moved to Brentford on a free-transfer but made just 17 appearances whilst with the club and failed to score before moving to Southend on a none-contract basis in August 2003.

Constantine spent nearly a whole season at Southend, scoring 25 times in 53 appearances for the side before moving to Peteborough on a free-transfer.

Whilst with the Posh, Constantine scored one goal in 12 appearances and also spent time on loan at Torquay, scoring three times in five games for the south coast side before The Gulls splashed out £75,000 on the striker in Decemeber 2004.

Constantine spent just 11 months at Torquay, scoring seven times in 40 appearances before moving to Vale on a free-transfer in November 2005.

In total, the Port Vale number 10 has scored 71 goals in 221 appearances through-out his career. The 29-year old has a good eye for goal and possess' good aerial ability and pace on the floor which will provide Ian Goodison and Chris McCready with a number of problems this Saturday.

Team News:

Tranmere have a number of injury worries again, with John Thompson expected to be injured for another couple of weeks whilst John Achterberg remains on the sidelines. Ian Goodison is expected to play despite being only half fit whilst John Mullin has shaken off the dead leg he picked up against Chesterfield. Jason McAteer also carries a leg injury and is expected to miss the game.

Jones' Prediction:
Port Vale 1-1 Tranmere