Tranmere Rovers vs. Carlisle United match preview

Jamaican Sensation missing as Tranmere take on Carlisle
This weekend see's what is squedualled to be the final installment of Friday Night football at Prenton Park, as Tranmere take on Carlisle United on the Wirral, knowing three points will put huge pressure on Blackpool and Swansea to win this weekend.

Should Rovers win the game, they will go level on points with Blackpool (winning 8-0 would put them ahead of their North West rivals) whilst they would go two points behind fifth place Oldham.

Carlisle United team profile:

Formed: 1904

Ground: Brunton Park

Manager: Neil McDonald

Nickname: The Blues

Season Finish 2005/06: 1st (Coca-Cola League Two)

Previous Meetings:

When the two clubs met up in Cumbria on 21st October of this season, a dismal performance - not for the first time on the road this season - meant Tranmere came away empty handed after a 1-0 defeat.

The only goal of the game was netted by Kevin Gall on 35 minutes, as the striker ran across the Rovers area, drifting in from the Carlisle left and netted low past Ward's despairing left-hand dive, a carbon copy of one of the two goals Tranmere conceeded in a 2-1 defeat at Rotherham in September.

The defeat stretched Tranmere's run in the league to six games without a win as they began to slip out of the automatic promotion race and they have never really recovered since despite a run of form in November.

Vital Stats:

All of the last three meetings between the two sides at Prenton Park have been in cup competitions

Tranmere have scored 78 goals in 35 games against Carlisle at Prenton Park

There have been just six draws in 35 games when the two have met on the Wirral

Rovers have lost 3 in a row on 30th March

The two sides haven't met in Division 3, under its various names, since April 16th 1979

The Form Book:

Tranmere last 6 home games: LWDWDW
Carlisle last 6 away games: LWDWDL

On their return to League One, Carlisle had been very poor on the road until the turn of the year but in their last six games they have picked up eight points from an available 18.

Most recently away from Brunton Park, Carlisle travelled down to Millwall and were defeated play-off hopefuls, this on the back of a 1-0 win at Cheltenham and 1-1 draw with an in form Leyton Orient side.

Before Leyton Orient, Doncaster Rovers had been defeated 2-1 by The Blues thanks to goals from Hawley and Smith, this again on the back of a draw, on this occassion with Brentford where Carlisle picked up a 0-0 draw.

The Brentford game was indeed then a start of a four match unbeaten run on the road as they were beaten 3-2 at Sixfields by Northampton Town two weeks previous.

Other notable results for Carlisle on the road this season include a 0-0 draw with Nottingham Forest and wins over Brighton (2-1) and Bournemouth (1-0).

In total, Carlisle have played 19 away games this season, losing nine, drawing six and winning four. They have therefore picked up a total of 18 points from an available 57.

It has certainlly been inconsistency at home, if not away from home, which has cost Tranmere their place in the play-offs of late, as they have failed to string together two home wins since they beat Millwall and Blackpool back in November.

Most recently at Prenton Park, Rovers put in a dismal display not unlike the one against Bournemouth last weekend, as they were defeated by Swansea City 2-0, their first defeat on home soil of 2007.

Eight days peviously on the Friday night, Rovers had beaten Chesterfield 2-0, this coming off the back of a 2-2 draw with Cheltenham Town, a game which Rovers had trailed 2-0.

Before Cheltenham, Rovers had picked up a valuable 1-0 win over Doncaster thanks to a Chris Greenacre header along with a 1-1 draw with Bradford City and a 1-0 win over Crewe Alexandra on a Tuesday evening.

Other notable home results for Tranmere this season include wins over Yeovil Town (2-1), Bristol City (1-0), Doncaster Rovers (1-0) and Blackpool (2-0).

In total, Tranmere have played 19 home games so far this season, winning 11, losing three and drawing six. They have picked up a total of 39 points from and available 57.

Double Hit:

All Rovers fans know that one ex-Tranmere man who has also represented Carlisle United is current Carlisle captain Kevin Gray, who ironically returned to Prenton Park just a couple of weeks ago for Carlisle Reserves as he recovers from injury.

However, the player featured in this section of the article this week will be right-back David Raven, who spent three months of last season on loan with Tranmere.

Raven signed for Liverpool from Tranmere as a 14-year old, but found himself back at the club he grew up supporting last season when he was drafted in by Brian Little to play right-back following the departure of Simon Francis.

Raven went on to make 11 appearances for Rovers but fans opinions were split on him, as many liked him but many others didn't rate him at all.

After being left out of the side for the last game of the season by Jason McAteer after the departure of Brian Little, it was clear that Raven wasn't going to be staying at Tranmere despite the end of his contract at Liverpool, where he had made four appearances.

Raven signed for Carlisle United on a free-transfer in July 2006, and despite a foot injury which ruled him out of the game against Rovers at Brunton Park earlier in the season, the right-back has gone on to make 30 appearances for Carlisle this season, picking up seven yellow cards in the process.

Raven wears the number two shirt for the Cumbrians, and despite being weak going forward, he is a good tackler and good all round defensive player in general.

One To Watch:

Carlisle's main man over the last two seasons has been striker Karl Hawley, who signed for The Blues from Walsall on a free-transfer in July 2004.

Hawley started his career at Walsall and made his debut in 2001. The now 26-year old went on to make just four appearances for the Saddlers without scoring, and also spent time on loan at Raith (x2) and Hereford, scoring a total of 11 goals in 31 appearances during the loan spells between August 2002 and December 2003.

After failing to make an impact and break into the Walsall first team, Hawley signed for Carlisle and has since made an impressive 135 goals for the club in nearly three seasons, scoring 51 goals in the process.

Last season, Hawley almost single handedly won Carlisle promotion as they won League Two, with Hawley scoring 26 goals over the season.

So far this term, the Carlisle number 10 has scored 12 goals in 33 matches. However, the striker who has bags of pace and is a very accurate finisher has missed the last month of the season with an ankle injury and is expected to be out for the next three weeks.

Team News:

Ronnie Moore could be able to call upon John Thompson once again, on-loan from Nottingham Forest, with the defender hoping to have recovered from a knee injury sustained against Doncaster Rovers on 10th February. However, Paul McLaren will miss out with an ankle injury and long term absentee John Achterberg will sit out with a knee injury. One big loss for Ronnie Moore is defender Ian Goodison who will serve a one match ban after being sent off for two yellow cards against Bournemouth.

Jones' Prediction: Tranmere 1-0 Carlisle United