Tranmere Rovers vs. Cheltenham Town match preview

Moore of the same please!
The festive season continues this Saturday as Tranmere Rovers take on Cheltenham Town at Prenton Park in Coca Cola League One.

Tranmere will be looking to build on Boxing Day's 2-0 win over Carlisle against a side who have been struggling so far in League One this season, and Ronnie Moore will most certainly see this as a game from which Tranmere must claim three points.


Cheltenham Town team profile:


Formed: 1887

Ground: Whaddon Road

Manager: Keith Downing

Nickname: The Robins

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

Previous Meetings:

Tranmere and Cheltenham have already met this season, with the game at Whaddon Road ending in a 1-1 draw in Coca Cola League One, with the goals coming either side of half time.

Tranmere originally lead the game thanks to a goal from striker Chris Greenacre 34-minutes into the game.

The goal came out of nothing as John Achterberg, replacing the injured Danny Coyne in goal, hit a long and hopeful hoof clear and after the ball was missed by the Cheltenham defender, Greenacre snuck in to hit the ball on the volley with his first touch across the goalkeeper and into the bottom corner.

However, Tranmere's lead didn't last as Cheltenham equalised in the 51st minute thanks to a header from Caines, who's missed header had lead to Tranmere scoring.

The home side won a dubious free-kick on the Tranmere left and Andy Lindegaard floated the ball into the area, where it was met by Caines inside the six yard box, comfortably heading the ball past Achterberg who had no chance from point blank range.


Vital Stats:

In just two previous meetings at Prenton Park, Cheltenham have never beaten Tranmere, with one win and a draw

Rovers haven't won any of their last four against the Robins

Despite both these teams having been formed for well over 100 years, their first meeting didn't come until August 17th 2002

In five previous meetings, these two teams have only served up 12 goals

All five previous meetings between these two teams have come in League One (or Division Two as it was when the teams first met)

On This Day:

2001: Rovers win 1-0 at home to Brentford in the first season back in Division Two

1993: Tranmere draw 0-0 away to Middlesbrough in Division One

1990: John King's Tranmere draw 1-1 away to Rotherham in Division Three

From nine previous games on December 29th, Tranmere have managed just two wins, to go with five draws and two defeats. They have scored eight goals and conceeded ten goals in that time.

The Form Book:

Tranmere last 6 home games: WWLLWD
Cheltenham last 6 away games: LLLDLL

It hasn't been easy for Cheltenham this season, especially after the departure of long serving manager John Ward who joined Carlisle United.

Indeed, the Robins have managed just one win on the road all season in the league and come into this game with five defeats and a draw to their name in their six match sequence.

Firstly, Cheltenham lost 2-0 away to Walsall before getting hammered 4-1 by Brighton and Hove Albion in the Football League trophy.

A rare away point came thanks to a decent 2-2 draw away with Southend United, although Cheltenham had lead the game 2-0, but three consecutive defeats have since followed.

The Robins lost again to Brighton, this time by a 2-1 margin and in the F.A. Cup before losing 2-0 away to Leyton Orient.

On Boxing Day, Cheltenham were convincingly beaten on the road once again, losing 4-1 to another high-flying side, Swansea City.

Cheltenham's only away win of the league season so far came at the Galpharm Stadium against Huddersfield where the Robins won 3-2, although they did win a derby match against Swindon Town 3-1 in the Football League Trophy.

From ten away games, Cheltenham have picked up only four points thanks to one win, one draw and eight defeats.

Notable home result for the team include wins against Gillingham (1-0), Leeds United (1-0) and Luton Town (1-0).

On Boxing Day, Tranmere Rovers defeated high-flying Carlisle United at Prenton Park in League One 2-0 and this was a result which will hopefully kick-start their season.

This win followed a 3-1 defeat of Bournemouth in their previous home game as they look to improve their below par home record for this season.

In the first match of their six game sequence, Rovers drew 0-0 with Walsall before defeating Huddersfield Town 3-0 on a Friday night on the Wirral, a result which followed three consecutive home draws.

However, following this Tranmere lost two consecutive home games 1-0 thanks to late goals against Oldham and then Swansea, before they picked up their form against Bournemouth and Carlisle.

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

From eleven home games this season, Tranmere have picked up 18 points from an available 33 thanks to five wins, three draws and three defeats.

Important away results for Rovers include wins over Gillingham (2-0), Carlisle United (1-0) and Southend United (2-1).

Double Hit:

Current Tranmere Rovers loan player Jennison Myrie-Williams has played for both Cheltenham and Tranmere this season.

Myrie-Williams is contracted to Bristol City where he has progressed through the ranks as a youngster, so far making 35 appearances for his home town club, netting on two occasions, of which one goal was against Tranmere Rovers last season in a 3-2 win for Bristol City.

At the start of the 2007/08 season, Myrie-Williams spent three months on loan with Cheltenham Town, making 13 appearances for the club and scoring once, before returning to his parent club in early November.

Just over two weeks after leaving Cheltenham, Myrie-Williams joined Tranmere on loan as cover for the injured Steve Davies and Chris Shuker.

Since joining Rovers, Myrie-Williams has made six appearances for the club, of which a large number of come on the right side of midfield.


One To Watch: Steven Gillespie

Scouser Steven Gillespie joined Cheltenham in January 2006 after two initial loan spells with the southern based club.

The striker started his career with Liverpool as a youngster but failed to ever make an appearance for the club, and as such in May 2004 he joined Bristol City on a free transfer.

Gillespie made 17 appearance for the Ashton Gate side, scoring just once, as he really failed to make himself a first team regular at the club.

He had two loan spells at Cheltenham, firstly in the 2005/06 season and then in the 2006/07 season, when he made a total of 24 appearances for the club and scored ten goals.

On January 31st 2006, Gillespie joined Cheltenham on a permanent deal and since, the 22-year old has made 46 appearances for the Robins and scored 13 goals.

With bags of pace, Gillespie is the biggest, if not the only threat to Tranmere's defence on Saturday, should he play, and he has already netted six goals this season, including one against Swansea on Boxing Day.


Around League One:

Once again there are some key fixtures around Coca Cola League One this weekend as the hectic Christmas games continue.

Tranmere Rovers are now tenth in League One after their victory on Boxing Day and a victory can move them to back inside the play-offs ahead of Doncaster, who are three points ahead of Rovers with 34 points from 22 games.

Cheltenham on the other hand will be looking to improve their appauling away record and move out of the relegation zone with a win, as they currently occupy 21st place in the League One table.

The two teams either side of Tranmere in the table, Yeovil and Brighton, meet at Huish Park with both sides looking to push back towards the promotion spots whilst Doncaster United, currently occupying the final play-off place, entertain Southend United at the Keepmoat stadium, a team enduring a poor run of form currently also.

The biggest game of the weekend though is undoutbably in South Wales, where Swansea City take on Leeds United. Swansea hammered Tranmere's opponents Cheltenham Town 4-1 in their last outing and are now top of the League One table by two points, despite having a game on hand on nearly every team in the division. Leeds on the other hand are now third and three points behind the Jacks after their 1-1 draw with Hartlepool on Boxing Day.

Leyton Orient, who suffered a surprise 3-1 defeat away to Bournemouth on Boxing Day, take on that Hartlepool side, and can lose their place in the play-offs for the first time in a number of months should they lose again on Saturday.

Nottingham Forest meanwhile, now second, have a tricky trip to Gillingham, a team who have only lost twice at home this season, as they look to fire themselves back up to the top of the table.

Team News:

Tranmere are sweating on the fitness of winger Chris Shuker who has a badly swollen knee after a collision with a Carlisle player in Rovers 2-0 win over the Cumbrians on Boxing Day. Shuker is likely to miss the game, whilst Gareth Taylor and John Mullin will once again sit out with injuries. Steve Davies is out for the season.


Jones' Prediction: Tranmere Rovers 4-1 Cheltenham Town

This is a game that Tranmere simply must win, purely on the basis that Cheltenham have been so poor on the road this season and Tranmere need to keep their momentum going following that good 2-0 win on Boxing Day.

If Rovers play anything like they did against Carlisle, they should be far too good for the Robins, with the centre-midfield of McLaren and Jennings able to over power their opponents.

Don't forget the Tranmere Rovers Mad Christmas Quiz which can be found at http://www.tranmererovers-mad.co.uk/news/loadfeat.asp?cid=EDY1&id=368856