Tranmere Rovers vs. Cheltenham Town match preview

By Matthew Jones
Last updated : 20 October 2008
Could Georgie hold the key for Tranmere?
This Tuesday night there is a full round of League One fixtures, with Tranmere Rovers hosting Cheltenham Town, under their new manager Martin Allen.

Allen, who was linked with the Tranmere job after the departure of Brian Little in May 2006, joining Cheltenham earlier this month and has a huge job on his hands to save the club from relegation. Having picked up some strong results already, the former West Ham man will be looking to guide his team to another win against a Tranmere side struggling for form at Prenton Park, despite their heroics on the road.


Cheltenham Town team profile:

Formed: 1887

Ground: Whaddon Road

Manager: Martin Allen

Nickname: The Robins

Season Finish 2006/07: 19th (Coca-Cola League One)

Previous Meetings:

When the two sides met at Prenton Park last season, Tranmere picked up a valuable home win over the Christmas period, as they beat The Robins 1-0 in what was a very poor game of football.

Having beaten high-flying Carlisle 2-0 in their previous match, Tranmere were high on confidence, but as has been the case for Rovers under Ronnie Moore, inconsistency struck, and they were lucky to pick up the three points against Cheltenham.

In a drab game, there were very few chances and the solitary goal of the game came just before the hour mark as Calvin Zola struck for Rovers, firing home from eight yards after good build up play from Tranmere which involved Myrie-Williams, McLaren and Greenacre.

Niether side really had too many chances to get another goal for the match although Cheltenham came closest in injury time of the second half when Coyne was forced to tip a deflected Vincent effort away from goal.

The two clubs' other meeting in the 2007/08 season, at Whaddon Road, came in mid-September, where Tranmere continued their excellent unbeaten away start to the season with a 1-1 draw.

Tranmere opened the scoring in somewhat fortuitous fashion when a long clearance by goalkeeper John Achterberg, playing because Danny Coyne was injured, was allowed to reach Chris Greenacre in the Cheltenham half, who brilliantly vollied the ball into the goal with his first touch, firing his shot into the bottom corner across the goalkeeper.

Rovers however relinquished their lead after half-time, when Cheltenham came at them as they searched for a way back into the game.

It took just a handful of minutes after the break for the home side to score, with an unmarked Caines heading home a Lindegaard free-kick from inside the six-yard box, leaving Achterberg with no chance.

From then on, it was mainly Cheltenham who had the chances to win the game, and although both sides had chances niether could score and the game stayed at 1-1.

Vital Stats:

This is only the seventh meeting between Tranmere and Cheltenham, all of which have come in the past six years

Cheltenham have never beaten Tranmere in their three previous trips to Prenton Park

Both of Rovers' wins over Cheltenham have been 1-0 home wins

Of the six previous meetings between the two sides, there has never been an away win

Three of the four home victories between these sides have been 1-0 wins


On This Day:

2006: A Kevin Gall goal is enough for Carlisle to beat Ronnie Moore's Tranmere 1-0 at Brunton Park

2003: After Eugene Dadi had missed a penalty, Gary Jones scored an injury time winner for Brian Little's Tranmere over Swindon Town, Rovers winning the match at Prenton Park 1-0

2000: In their relegation season from the Championship, Tranmere pick up a point from a 0-0 draw at home to West Brom

On October 21st, Tranmere have played thirteen previous fixtures, picking up six wins, four draws and three defeats. In these thirteen matches, they have scored eighteen goals and conceded on thirteen occasions.

The Form Book:

Tranmere last six home matches: LWLLWW
Cheltenham last six away matches: DLLLWL

So far this season, Tranmere's home form has been less than inspiring, having picked up more points away from Prenton Park up to this point than on home soil.

Ronnie Moore's side started the season well enough at Prenton Park, winning their first three home matches, but since they have picked up just one home win in four.

In the first match of their six match sequence, Rovers came from behind to hammer Northampton Town 4-1 at Prenton Park, before earning their place in the second round of the Johnstone's Paints Trophy with a 1-0 win over Accrington Stanley of League Two.

Tranmere then lost a bitterly dissapointing match 1-0 against Oldham Athletic, a game which they arguably deserved to draw and had a goal ruled out for offside, before they lost a stunning match against Colchester United 4-3.

Ronnie Moore's side then booked their place in the third round of the Johnstone's Paints Trophy with a 1-0 win over Crewe before putting in perhaps their worst display of the season in a 3-1 defeat to Millwall at Prenton Park, Bas Savage grabbing what turned out to be a concelation goal for Rovers late on.

In their only other home game, Tranmere picked up a 1-0 win over Hartlepool United, meaning from their five home league games, Tranmere have accumulated just six points from an available fifteen, having won two and lost three of their home league fixtures.

Notable results away from home for Tranmere include wins against Leyton Orient (1-0), Huddersfield Town (2-1) and Carlisle United (2-1).

After eleven league matches, they stand eleventh in Coca-Cola League One with sixteen points from an available thirty-three thanks to five wins, a draw and five defeats.

Cheltenham Town's away form this season, especially in the league, has been nothing short of shocking, as they come into this game without an away league win this season and without an away league win since March 11th 2008, when they beat Leeds United 2-1 at Elland Road.

This run therefore stretches back nine matches, of which seven have been defeats, and eight months. Indeed, of their last sixteen away league matches, they've won just one.

Cheltenham started the season away from home, taking on Northampton Town at Sixfields, where the Cobblers have been in excellent form. Cheltenham lost the match 4-2, despite taking a first half lead, before travelling to Southend United for a League Cup first round tie and beating the Shrimpers 1-0 after extra time.

Since, though, the Robins are without an away win. Firstly, they lost 4-0 away to high-flying Oldham Athletic, and things only got slightly better in their next away match, when they lost 4-1 against Hartlepool United.

Cheltenham then lost 3-0 at Millwall in another game where they were quite easily beaten, before they drew an exciting match 3-3 with Brighton, a game in which five of the goals were scored by a player with the surname Murray.

So far this season, Cheltenham Town have picked up just one point from a total of fifteen available in their five away league games, after drawing one and losing four of their matches.

Notable home results for the Robins include a close 4-3 win over Colchester United, a 2-0 win over local rivals Swindon Town and a 2-1 win over Bristol Rovers.

Coming into this match, Martin Allen's side are nineteenth in League One, two points above the relegation zone, having picked up eleven points from an available thirty-three thanks to three wins, two draws and six defeats in their opening eleven league games.

Double Hit:

Pacey winger Jennison Myrie-Williams was on-loan at Cheltenham earlier this season, having spent a large proportion of last season on-loan at Tranmere Rovers.

Myrie-Williams is a graduate of the Bristol City academy, where he made his debut during the 2005-06 season. However, he has found appearances limited with his parent club, having made just thirty-five appearances in four seasons a professional at Ashton Gate.

Therefore, the youngster has spent a lot of time out on-loan, starting with a spell at Cheltenham Town at the start of the 2007/08 season.

Here, he made thirteen appearances, scoring once, before returning to Bristol. However, shortly afterwards he was out on-loan again, this time joining Ronnie Moore at Tranmere Rovers, who had lost Steve Davies for the majority of the season with a knee injury.

Myrie-Williams stayed with Tranmere from November right through until the end of the season, becoming somewhat of a love or hate player with the Tranmere fans.

He made twenty-six appearances for Tranmere and scored three goals, including a superb solo goal in a 2-0 win at Elland Road against Leeds United for Tranmere in Ferbuary 2008.

However, he spent much of his time at Tranmere out of position on the right-wing, despite the fact that he is very left-footed. It was for this reason, perhaps, that Myrie-Williams failed to ever find consistent form at Prenton Park and was very hit and miss.

He showed plenty of pace and skill, but often a final ball or end product was lacking, often because he had to cut back from his right foot on to his left to deliver the ball.

The start of this season again saw the twenty-year old fail to get in the Bristol City side, and he returned to Cheltenham on loan for a month in August, making a further five appearances and scoring once.

Then, in mid-September, he joined Carlisle United on-loan. Carlisle manager John Ward had had Myrie-Williams on-loan at Cheltenham, where he was manager, last season, and had clearly been impressed enough to secure the player's services again.

Since joining Carlisle, Myrie-Williams, who is also capable of playing in attack, has made six appearances for the club, five of which have come from the substitues bench, and he recently extended his stay with the Brunton Park club for a further month.

One To Watch: Stuart Fleetwood

Striker Stuart Fleetwood is currently on-loan at Whaddon Road from Championship side Charlton Athletic, for whom he signed in the summer.

The youngster started his career with Cardiff City, although after just twelve appearances for the Welsh club between 2003 and 2006, he was released, joining Hereford United on a free-transfer in January 2006.

After spending eighteen months with The Bulls, making 52 appearances and scoring eleven goals in the process, as well as spending time on loan at Accrington Stanley, Fleetwood was on the move again, this time joining non-League Forest Green Rovers, managed by ex-Tranmere midfielder Jimmy Harvey, for free in the summer of 2007.

At Forest Green, Fleetwood was a revelation. His first and only season with the club saw him end with 32 goals in 42 games, 28 of which came in the league, comfortably making him the Conference's leading scorer.

In July 2008 his contract with Forest Green expired and he joined Charlton on a free-transfer, although he couldn't break into the first team at the Valley and joined Cheltenham on loan in late September.

Since joining the Robins, the pacey striker has netted twice in five games, with both goals coming in home games for Cheltenham.

Aged 22, Fleetwood is a young player who lacks height, but he has undoubted ability, with his pace and eye for goal making him a player that will threaten any defence in League One.

Around League One:

There is a full compliment of fixtures in Coca Cola League One this Tuesday night and with another set of mid-week fixtures coming next week, this is a period in which clubs will be looking to find some form and go on a run which could see them motor up the table in just a week.

One of the most important fixtures of the night in League One is at Huish Park, where Yeovil Town take on Crewe, who Tranmere play on Friday, a match that is 23rd hosting 22nd place in the league table. A win for either team could lift them out of the relegation zone and both sides will be keen to get one over on their relegation rivals.

At the other end of the table, first placed Scunthorpe United will be hoping to pick up three points against sixth placed Southend United after only drawing at the weekend, whilst second placed Leicester follow up their 1-1 draw away to Oldham with a home match against Walsall, who have slipped out of the play-off frame in the last couple of weeks.

Oldham, fourth, travel to mid-table Bristol Rovers, whilst Millwall, who comfortably beat Leeds at the New Den on Saturday and are now third in the table, are away in a tricky match against Colchester.


Team News:

Ronnie Moore is again without striker Craig Curran who will remain on the sidelines for a few more weeks due to a stomach muscle injury, but otherwise the Rovers boss should have a full compliment of players to select from after Ian Goodison and Edrissa Sonko both returned from international duty to play some part in the 1-0 win over Leyton Orient. The Tranmere boss could however continue with the 4-5-1 formation that has been so successful away from home, with the only change seeing Georgie O'Callaghan or Charlie Barnett replacing Gareth Edds in midfield.


Jones' Prediction: Tranmere Rovers 2-0 Cheltenham Town

There is no doubt that Ronnie Moore's side have struggled at home in recent weeks, with three consecutive home league defeats on the bounce, whilst their away form has improved remarkably, with three wins and a draw in their last four away matches.

Such form could well mean Tranmere stop using the 4-4-2 formation they have been using at Prenton Park, instead switching to a 4-5-1 or 4-3-3 formation.

With Rovers playing this formation, one of George O'Callaghan or Charlie Barnett can be accomodated in to a three man central midfield with Jennings and Kay, therefore adding that extra creativity to the midfield which Rovers have been missing greatly in their home matches.

Tranmere will therefore have much more chance to attack and have that spark that they have been missing in midfield. As a result, more goals should come, although at no cost to the defence, who will still be as strong.

As such, if Tranmere go with this formation, as has been hinted this week by Ronnie Moore, they should get the home win they crave, a result which could well propel them up the league, as high as eighth place before their Friday night match with Crewe.

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