Tranmere Rovers vs. Accrington Stanley match preview

Moore goals are the key for Ronnie's Tranmere
This Thursday evening, Tranmere take on Accrington Stanley, live on Sentanta Sports Television, in their F.A. Cup first round replay following the side's 0-0 bore draw at the Crown Ground at the weekend.

In what is expected to be a pretty much deserted Prenton Park, both sides will fight it out for a place in round two, with the winner facing a tough trip to League Two side Peterborough, as well as earning some much needed cash for progression in the competition.

Accrington Stanley team profile:

Formed: 1968

Ground: The Fraser Eagle Stadium

Manager: John Coleman

Nickname: Stanley

Season Finish 2006/07: 17th (Coca-Cola League Two)

Previous Meetings:

When the two sides take to the field on Thursday, it will be only five days since the clubs last played in their initial F.A. Cup first round game, as well as the match being their third meeting of the season.

When the sides met on Saturday, the game ended in a terrible 0-0 draw. Niether side had many chances to get on the scoresheet and win the game, despite the prize of a place in Round Two for the winners.

Indeed, Tranmere goalkeeper Danny Coyne barely had a save to make through-out the match, meaning the best chances fell to the away side.

However, they found Accrington goalkeeper Kenny Arthur in great form, as the stopper made a number of impressive saves, particularly from Tranmere midfield Gareth Edds in the first half, to keep the scores level.

Ultimately though, Tranmere's best two chances to win the game came in the second half, falling to winger Chris Shuker and striker Bas Savage.

Firstly, winger Shuker did well to bring the ball under control on the Tranmere left before cutting inside past his man and into the penalty area. Now one-on-one with the goalkeeper and only twelve or so yards from goal, Shuker needed to hit the target, but his woeful right-footed effort ballooned over the cross-bar, much to the annoyance of the travelling Tranmere fans, who numbered near 1,000.

Bas Savage's chance was a better one than Shuker's too, with the striker only needing to get a touch on the ball to divert it goalwards. However, he failed to anticipate a cross coming as far as it did to where he stood on the back post, and there was too slow to react to divert the ball home.

Vital Stats:

Tranmere haven't played three successive cup games since the 1988/90 season, when John King's side's F.A. Cup win against Northwich was sandwiched inbetween Associate Members victories over Stockport and Crewe (on penalties)

Tranmere have won 21 of their 33 home games against Accrington

Rovers have one of their biggest all time wins against Stanley, when they beat the Lancashire side 9-0 at Prenton Park in April 1958

Since 2000, Tranmere have played three Thursday matches, against Port Vale, Huddersfield and Blackpool, winning all three games

Before last Saturday's match, Tranmere and Accrington had met on 65 occasions, and there had been just one 0-0 draw

On This Day:

2004: Brian Little's Tranmere lose 2-1 away to Peterborough United in the F.A. Cup first round

1993: John King's Rovers side comfortably beat Sunderland 4-1 at Prenton Park

1982: Rovers lose 4-2 at home to Colchester in Division Four

Tranmere have played fourteen previous fixtures on November 13th, picking up just three wins, as well as two draws and nine defeats. In these fourteen matches, they have scored eighteen goals and conceded on 28 occasions.

The Form Book:

Tranmere last 6 home games: WWWLWL
Accrington last 6 away games: DDWLLL

Tranmere Rovers are currently on one of their best runs of the season at Prenton Park, winning three consecutive matches for the second time since the start of the campaign, keeping a clean sheet in all three matches.

Rovers started their six match sequence with a dissapointing display against Colchester United, as a thoroughly exciting match finished 4-3 to the visitors, before Tranmere beat Crewe Alexandra 1-0 in the second round of the Johnstone's Paints Trophy.

Ronnie Moore's side then put in a dreadful display against high-flying Millwall in League One, losing the match 3-1, with only a very late Bas Savage header salavaging any pride from the match for Tranmere.

Since though, Rovers have gone unbeaten at Prenton Park, picking up three successive wins. Firstly, they beat Cheltenham Town 2-0, before winning against Crewe once again, this time 2-0 and in the league.

Then in their most recent match, Tranmere beat League Two side Morecambe 1-0 in the Johnstone's Paints Northern Section Quarter Final, with Ryan Shotton scoring the Tranmere goal.

Other notable results at Prenton Park for Tranmere this season include victories over Hartlepool United (1-0) and Northampton Town (4-1), with striker Craig Curran scoring in both games.

Tranmere have so far played ten home games this season, with seven wins and three defeats to their name. In the league, they have picked up a total of twelve points form an available twenty-one thanks to four wins and three defeats.

Impressive away successes for Rovers include excellent wins away to Huddersfield Town (2-1), Carlisle United (2-1) and Leyton Orient (1-0).

After losing 1-0 at MK Dons nearly two weeks ago, Tranmere are eleventh in the League One table with twenty-three points from their opening fifteen games.

Like Tranmere Rovers, Accrington Stanley come into this game on a three match unbeaten run, although their run is away from home as opposed to at home.

They started their six match sequence in shocking form though, as, having already lost three of their four previous matches on the road for the season, they lost a further three on the spin, making it five consecutive defeats on the bounce away from The Crown Ground.

Stanley started their six match sequence then with a 2-1 away defeat to high-flying Exeter, who only recently returned to the Football League, before losing 3-0 away to Darlington.

John Coleman's side then travelled to Barnet and lost 2-1, but their luck was to change, as they picked up their second away win of the season in their next away match, beating Luton 2-1 at Kenilworth Road, with on-loan Tranmere striker Terry Gornell netting one of the Accrington goals.

Since, Accrington have picked up successive draws on their travels, firstly against Morecambe in a game that could be classed as a local derby, with the match finishing 1-1, before they travelled to Dagenham a handful of days later and drew 0-0.

Accrington's only other away win this season came against Port Vale, with Stanley beating the Valients 2-0, whilst they were also unlucky to be knocked out of the Carling Cup by Championship side Wolves, losing the match 3-2 after it had finished 1-1 after 90 minutes.

Stanley have so far played ten away games this season, picking up two wins and two draws to compliment six defeats. In the league, they have managed to pick up eight points from an available twenty-four thanks to two wins, two draws and four defeats.

Impressive results at home for Accrington this season include wins over Macclesfield Town (2-0) and Shrewsbury Town (2-1), as well as a 0-0 draw with Tranmere Rovers.

Accrington Stanley lie in fifteenth place in League Two after fifteen games, having picked up fifteen points from an available 45, thanks to four wins, three draws and eight defeats.

Double Hit:

As well as current Accrington players John Mullin and Terry Gornell (currently on-loan at Stanley from Tranmere Rovers), former Manchester City midfielder Ged Brannan represented both clubs.

Brannan started his career with Tranmere Rovers, where he was a successful product of the Youth System re-established by then manager John King.

It was King who brought Brannan into the Rovers first team, where he began to flourish and was a member of the Tranmere squad for seven years after making his debut in 1990.

The Prescot born midfielder made 303 appearances for Tranmere between 1990 and 1997, scoring 25 goals in the process, but with Rovers in the midst of a financial crisis, he was one of a number of players sold by Tranmere, along with the likes of John McGreal and Kenny Irons.

He joined Manchester City for £750,000 in March 1997, and stayed with the Blues for nearly 18 months, making nearly fifty appearances, as well as spending time on loan at Norwich City, before joining Motherwell in August 1998.

At Motherwell, Brannan continued the form that had earnt him the move to City from Tranmere, stayed with the Scottish club for three years. He was close to making 100 appearances for the club, where he also played with Tranmere legend David Kelly, before moving on again to Wigan in 2001.

Two years at Wigan also saw Brannan spend time on loan at Dunfirmline and Rochdale until he signed for Accrington on a free transfer in November 2003.

Brannan stayed with Accrington for two years and was a key part of the sides midfield over the next two seasons, making 52-appearances and scoring seven goals for the club before moving on again in November 2005 to Morecambe, where again he teamed up with a Tranmere legend, this time defender Steve Yates.

The midfielder made a further 62 appearances for Morecambe over two years, helping them into the Football League for the first time in the 2006/07 season, before retiring in 2007.

However, Brannan has returned to the footballing stage since his retirement, helping the Tranmere Rovers Masters side to the National Finals this summer after he helped Rovers beat Liverpool and Everton in the regional finals.

One To Watch: Paul Mullin

Brother of former Tranmere player John, who could also line up for Accrington tomorrow, Paul Mullin has been at Accrington for seven years, meaning he is in his eighth season with the club.

Unlike John, Paul is a striker and has scored plenty of goals for Accrington over the years, and indeed he was one of the key men behind the club getting promoted back to the Football League during the 2005/06 season.

Mullin actually started his career at Accrington before being released and going on to play non-League football with the likes of Darwen, Trafford, Clitheroe and Radcliffe Borough before being signed once more by Stanley in 2001.

Since re-joining the club, he has become somewhat of a fan favourite, scoring plenty of goals, including 14 in the clubs promotion season back to the Football League, whilst at the end of the 2006/07 season he broke Accrington's all time appearance record.

Paul looks very like his brother John and wears the number ten shirt for Accington. At 34, his best years are most probably behind him, but Paul is still a valuable player for Accrington and he has netted three times so far this season.

The F.A. Cup:

This is the only F.A. Cup fixture being brought forward to this week, with the match moved from its initial date, Tuesday November 18th, to this Thursday so that it can be shown live on Television.

Team News:

Bas Savage returned to the Tranmere side on Saturday after a chest infection and he should be fine to feature in this fixture, whilst Ian Goodison could return following a hamstring injury that has kept him out over the last few weeks. This game though could come too early for striker Craig Curran who has been out for over a month with a stomach muscle injury. George O'Callaghan will once again miss out.

Jones' Prediction:
Tranmere Rovers 1-0 Accrington Stanley

The two previous matches between these two sides so far this season have been terrible, drab, boring matches, providing just one goal in the 180 minutes, and there is a strong possibility that this game will follow suit. The viewing public on Setanta Sports are in for a real treat!

Rovers' problem recently has been scoring goals. At the back, they have been excellent, conceding just once in their last seven games. However, a failure to have a real goalscorer has resulted in a failure to convert chances and, as such, Tranmere have netted just once in their last four games.

Ronnie Moore's side then must start scoring goals. They have been having chances, Edds and Shuker should have scored on Saturday at Accrington, meaning this game wouldn't have been needed, whilst Tranmere are also having chances from set-pieces. Headers and shots though are going wide or over, or Tranmere are just finding a 'keeper in terrific form blocking their path to goal.

Nevertheless, Tranmere won't win games unless they score, and as such, it is important that striker Bas Savage starts getting on the scoresheet more, whilst midfielder Charlie Barnett must also get up to support Savage in a bid to help Rovers get those vital goals.

At the moment, Tranmere are only requiring one goal to win matches, but they should not settle for that, and really should be looking to win games at Prenton Park by three or four, especially against League Two sides.