Southend United vs. Tranmere Rovers match preview

Rovers looking for three points in Southend
Second travel to play third this weekend in Coca-Cola League One, as Ronnie Moore and his Tranmere side travel south to play Southend at Roots Hall.

Rovers will be looking to maintain their unbeaten start on the road, whilst Steve Tilson will be hoping his side can continue their good form which has seen them rapidly rise up the league table in recent weeks.

Southend Team Profile:

Formed: 1906

Ground: Roots Hall

Manager: Steve Tilson

Nickname: The Shrimpers

Season Finish 2006/07: 22nd (Coca-Cola Championship)

Previous Meetings:

The last time these two sides were in the same league together was the 2005/06 season, one which ended in promotion for Southend and near relegation for Tranmere.

The game at Roots Hall was played in September and it as a match that Tranmere lost 3-1. Southend took the lead when Lawson half-vollied the ball into the back of the net from close range, connecting with Cole's header back across goal after Gower's initial header on 18 minutes.

On 33-minutes Southend went 2-0 up as Shaun Goater scored from the penalty spot, Mike Jackson giving away the kick as he halted Gower's surge into the box.

Rovers were back in it on 46-minutes as they scored straight from the kick off, Jennings releasing Facey who made it 2-1 but hopes of even a point were to be dashed on 82-minutes as former Man City striker Goater got his second of the game, "The Goat" feeding off Freddy Eastwood's pass after a brilliant run from the now Welsh international.

The game back at Prenton Park on January 21st was nothing much to shout about however as the two sides drew 0-0, a third goalless game for Tranmere in a row with a third to follow against Bradford seven days later.

Vital Stats:

Rovers haven't won at Roots Hall since October 2nd 1993 when John King's side grabbed a 2-1 win

In 21 games between the two sides at Southend, Rovers have won seven times, with Southend holding eight wins to their name to go with six draws

Rovers highest win against Southend is only a 3-1 win compared to a 7-1 win for Southend over Rovers (24/10/1959)

Rovers have 18 wins in 42 matches against the Shrimpers

In their last nine league games against Southend, Tranmere have just two wins

On This Day:

2006: Tranmere draw 0-0 away at Swansea City

2000: Tranmere lose a hard fought and exciting game with Burnley at Prenton Park 3-2 in Division One

1982: Rovers lose 3-1 away to Chelsea in the League Cup

The Form Book:

Southend last five home games: WWDWW
Tranmere last five away games: LWDWD

A fantastic home record has helped move Southend to third in Coca-Cola League one after nine league games as they have lost just one game at Roots Hall this season, in all competitions.

The defeat was indeed their first game of the season as League One leaders Leyton Orient travelled to Roots Hall and picked up a 2-1 win before three days later Southend defeated Cheltenham Town 4-1 (after extra time) in the Carling Cup First Round.

Their next home league game saw Steve Tilson's side pick up their first points of the season as they deat Millwall 1-0 at Roots Hall with a 2-0 home win over Watford in the Carling Cup Second Road following three days later.

Their next home game was in a cup competition again, this time against Dagenham and Redbridge in the Johnstone's Paints Trophy First Round and after the game was drawn 2-2, Southend lost 7-6 on penalties.

Four days later Southend hammered struggling Gillingham 3-0 at Roots Hall with goals coming from Bailey, McCormack and Clarke before Southend picked up a 3-2 home win over Doncaster Rovers in their most recent home game.

From a total of four home league games this season, Southend have picked up three wins and a defeat, meaning they have a total of nine points from an available 12.

Noteable away results for the Shrimpers in a 1-0 win over Oldham Athletic and a 2-1 win away to Port Vale.

It's been an unbeaten start on the road for Tranmere in the league this season as they travel to Southend hoping to open up a three point gap between themselves and Saturdays opposition.

Rovers started the league season away at the Priestfield Stadium against Gillingham where they picked up an excellent 2-0 win thanks to goals from Greenacre and Davies.

Back on the road two weeks later, Rovers made the long long journey to Huish Park where they took on Yeovil Town. Despite trailing 1-0 well into injury time, a 96th minute free-kick from Steve Davies earned Tranmere a point.

Just a week later Rovers were on the road again, making the journey up north to Carlisle, and it was a first half Craig Curran goal which earned Tranmere a well deserved win.

Just two weeks later and it was another long away journey for Tranmere, this time travelling to Cheltenham. Rovers drew the game 1-1, as a Chris Greenacre goal wasn't enough to secure Tranmere the points.

In the Carling Cup, Tranmere travelled to Stockport and lost 1-0 with Matty McNeil getting the only goal of the game late on.

From a total of four away league games this season, Tranmere have picked up two wins and two draws, meaning they have eight points from an available 12.

Noteable home results for Tranmere include wins over Luton Town (2-1) and Brighton and Hove Albion (2-0).

Double Hit:

Current Southend United defender Simon Francis played for Tranmere Rovers on-loan during the 2005/06 season, Brian Little's final year as Rovers manager.

Francis started his career with hometown club Bradford City and after a highly impressive debut, the right-back went on to make an impressive 26 league and cup appearances in his first season with the Bantams and went on to make a total of 57 appearances for the club and scoring once.

After making a huge impression with the fans and management, Francis made a £200,000 move to Sheffield United in March 2004.

However, Francis always failed to break into the first team at Brammall Lane and he made just 15 appearances for the club before a loan move to Grimsby at the start of the 2005/06 season.

Francis' move was only for a month however, and after three appearances he return to Sheffield United. However, come November 18th 2005 Francis was on the move again, this time on loan to Tranmere and as he arrived the day before Rovers' away game at Scunthorpe where he made his debut.

The right back went on to make 17 appearance for Rovers under Brian Little and scored a brilliant goal on his ome debut in the 2-2 draw against Swansea City from well outside the box.

After being released by Sheffield United following their promotion in the Summer of 2006, Francis signed a three year contract with Southend United.

Despite Southend's relegation, the right-back stayed with the club and has so far made 45 appearances for them, scoring on one occassion. He has great pace and a fantastic tackle and remains at Southend today.

One To Watch: Leon Clarke

Striker Leon Clarke has had a perfect start to his Southend career, as the former Wolves man looks to cement regular first team football following his loan move from Sheffield Wednesday.

Clarke started his career with Wolves and made his debut in the 2003/04 season when he made three cup appearances for the club before moving out on loan to Kidderminster at the end of the season when the striker made four appearances without scoring.

Further loan spells at Plymouth and QPR yielded five appearances but no goals and after 83 appearances and 15 goals for Wolves, Clarke moved to Sheffield Wednesday for a nominal fee on 15th January 2007.

Since joining Sheffield Wednesday, Clarke has made 14 appearances and scored twice, whilst a one month loan spell at Oldham last season saw him get three goals in five games.

Clarke signed for Southend on loan on August 31st this year and has since made five appearances and scored five goals, one goal in each game as well as bagging a goal for Wednesday at the start of the season.

He stands at six feet two inches tall and despite having not as much pace as he may like, Clarke is a fine striker of the ball and has strength to go with his decent height which troubles defenders when he plays.

Around League One:

A defeat for either Southend or Tranmere could mean a drop to as low as eleventh place in the League One table if results go against them this weekend, whilst either side could also go top should they win and Leyton Orient slip up. The league one table is indeed very tight at the top, as just six points seperate second placed Tranmere and 19th placed Gillingham after nine games.

Leyton Orient will be hoping to maintain, if not extend their fthree point lead at the top of the League One table this weekend as they take on an improving Swansea City side at Brisbane Road. Orient have just one of their last two games whilst Swansea have lost only one of their last five and now lie sixth in the table, two points behind second placed Tranmere and third placed Southend.

Carlisle will be looking to maintain their good start, as Carlisle under new boss John Ward take on Millwall who have not won any of their last five games.

Leeds United meanwhile take on the highly fancied Yeovil Town at home, with Yeovil having won four of their last six on the road. Yeovil lie seventh going into the game, whilst Leeds lie 14th, just four points off the play-off places.

Nottingham Forest also have a big game this weekend, as the in form midlands side take on the other play-off side Hartlepool United at The City Ground. Hartlepool, who have made a great start to the season under Danny Wilson, lie fifth in the League One table with Forest just one point behind them in eigth. The Tricky tree's are unbeaten in their last five league games as they surge up the league table after a dissapointing start whilst Hartlepool will be looking to pick up at least a point in what could be a big weekend in League One.

Team News:

Rovers will be without Steve Davies (cruciate knee ligaments) who is expected to miss the rest of the season and John Mullin (ankle) for this game, whilst Danny Coyne is still highly doubtful for the match. Calvin Zola could return for his hamstring injury but will have a late fitness test ahead of the match.

Jones' Prediction: Southend 2-0 Tranmere