Tranmere Rovers vs. Crewe Alexandra match preview

JPT Second Round action at Prenton Park
Just two days after their league games at the weekend, Tranmere and Crewe take to the pitch at Prenton Park for their Johnstone's Paints Trophy second round match.

The game is being played on a Monday to allow each sides internationals to play before they are taken off to play for their respective countries at the weekend.

Crewe Alexandra team profile:

Formed: 1877

Ground: Gresty Road

Manager: Steve Holland

Nickname: The Alex/The Railwaymen

Season Finish 2006/07: 20th (Coca-Cola League One)

Previous Meetings:

Tranmere and Crewe last met on New Years Day earlier this year, playing out an incredible match at Gresty Road which was filled with goals and controversy.

The scoring started early on as Andy Taylor, at that point on-loan at the club from Blackburn, scored his first senior goal as he riffled a shot into the top corner from the edge of the area after Crewe had failed to clear a corner.

It wasn't until the 30th minute when Crewe equalised, Gary Roberts scoring from the penalty spot after Kay had fouled Rix in the penalty area, and this came after former Rovers player Chris McCready had had a goal dissallowed for the Alex.

A minute later though it was 2-1 as Chris Greenacre scored with a brilliant finish from a very tigh angle, firing the ball into the top corner past Williams in the Crewe goal.

Roberts on 48 minutes and then Maynard on 67 made it 3-2 to Crewe, the Maynard goal coming three minutes after Ian Goodison had been controversially sent off for a miss-timed tackle near the half-way line.

Tranmere though got it back to 3-3 as Paul McLaren netted an excellent free-kick from 25-yards, but disaster struck for Rovers in the final minute as O'Donnell headed home to give Crewe a 4-3 win.

Earlier in the season when the two sides had met at Prenton Park, Tranmere were struggling with the loss of Steve Davies and picked up only a 1-1 draw against lowly Crewe, with Chris Shuker scoring the Rovers equaliser thanks to an excellent through-ball by Mike Jones, making it 1-1 after Roberts had scored a penalty for Crewe nine minutes earlier.

Vital Stats:

Tranmere have played host to Crewe on 64 occasions, picking up 36 wins and sixteen draws

In 64 home matches against Crewe, Tranmere have scored a staggering 133 goals, with Crewe netting just 63 times

The two sides have met twice before in the Football League Trophy, with both matches played in the 1980s and both games ending as draws

Rovers have lost one of their last six home matches against Crewe

This is the thirteenth cup tie Tranmere have played under Ronnie Moore, excluding replays, and it is the first time they have come up against League One opposition

On This Day:

2007: Tranmere put in one of their best away performances for years, with Ben Chorley and Gareth Taylor scoring in a 2-1 win over Southend at Roots Hall that puts Tranmere top of League One

2006: Rovers draw a Friday night encounter at Swansea City 0-0

2003: Tranmere lose 3-1 away to Luton in League One as their poor start to the season continues

Tranmere have played twenty fixtures on October 6th, picking up just three wins to go with three draws and fourteen defeats. They have scored twenty-two goals but conceded thirty-three.

The Form Book:

Tranmere last six matches: WLDWLW
Crewe last six matches: LDLLWL

Coming into this game, Crewe's form has been nothing short of abysmal, with just one win in their last six matches.

Their six match sequence started with a 5-2 drubbing at the hands of Leeds, although the scoreline was made somewhat more respectable by Crewe netting two injury time goals in the second half through Bopp and Jones.

The Railwaymen then picked up their only win in their last six matches with a 2-0 win over Colchester thanks to goals from O'Connor and Pope before losing an incredible match with Southend United 4-3, a game which Crewe had led at 3-.

Steve Hollands side then lost a close Carling Cup Third Round match with Liverpool at Anfield 2-1, although Liverpool certainly didn't have their full strength team out, before Crewe drew 0-0 with another side struggling in League One this season, Bristol Rovers, at the Memorial Ground.

In their most recent fixture, Crewe lost 3-1 to Northampton Town at Gresty Road in Coca-Cola League One, a result which already took their goal difference for the season to -8.

Other notable results for Crewe this season include Carling Cup victories against Championship sides Barnsley (2-0) and Bristol City (2-1), both at Gresty Road, as well as a 2-1 win over Walsall in the league.

They reached the second round of the Johnstone's Paints Trophy thanks to a 3-0 win over League Two side Macclesfield Town.

In the league this season, Crewe have played nine games and picked up just seven points from an available twenty-seven thanks to two wins, a draw and six defeats. They are yet to win an away game this season and lie twenty-second in the table.

Coming into this game, you can see Tranmere's inconsistency, with three wins in their last six, although they are yet to win back-to-back games this season.

Rovers started their six match sequence with a 1-0 win over Accrington Stanley in the Johnstone's Paints Trophy, Edrissa Sonko scoring the goal, before losing 1-0 at home to Oldham a few days later in the league.

Tranmere then picked up their first away win of the season, and their first since February, as they came from behind to beat Huddersfield 2-1 thanks to goals from Sonko and Shotton, before drawing 2-2 at Peterborough a week later, despite leading the game 2-0.

In their next match, Tranmere lost 4-3 back at Prenton Park against struggling Colchester United, with the U's scoring some stunning goals to claim the win, before Tranmere travelled to Carlisle United at the weekend and picked up an excellent 2-1 win, with Moore and Shotton the scorers.

Other notable results for Ronnie Moore's side this season include a 1-0 win over Hartlepool United and a 4-1 drubbing of Northampton Town, both in League One and both at Prenton Park.

In the league this season, Tranmere have played nine matches, picking up thirteen of an available twenty-seven points thanks to four wins, a draw and four defeats. They've won two of their four home games and lie twelfth in the table.

Double Hit:

Crewe currently have two players on their books who were once with Tranmere Rovers in the shape of striker Calvin Zola and defender Chris McCready.

Striker Zola started his career with North-East club Newcastle United, where he was spotted by then manager Bobby Robson playing for Newcastle school boys after moving to England from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Despite a lot of potential though, Zola failed to ever make an appearance for The Toon and moved out on-loan to Oldham for the 2003/04 season.

At Boundary Park, where the weather is somewhat colder and wetter than in the Congo, Zola made twenty-eight appearances and scored seven times, before returning to Newcastle at the end of the season, upon which he was released.

It didn't take long for Zola to find a new club though, as he was snapped up by Tranmere manager Brian Little on a free-transfer in May 2004.

The Striker stayed with Tranmere for four seasons, but his career was hampered by injury and work-permit issues, with the latter keeping him out for six months of the 04/05 campaign.

Over his four years with the club, Zola made 108 appearances for Tranmere, although he never managed a consistent run in the first team, and made nearly half of his appearances from the substitutes bench. He scored just eighteen times and in June 2008, he signed for Crewe for £200,000.

Since joining Crewe, Zola seems to have started scoring much more frequently, having played nine games for the club and netted three times, although he hasn't scored since mid-September.

One To Watch: Dennis Lawrence

A giant centre-half, Trinidad and Tobago international Dennis Lawrence is currently on-loan at Crewe Alexandra from Championship side Swansea City.

Lawrence started his career in Jamaica with Force Defence before earning a move to Wrexham in 2001 after showing excellent form in the Caribbean.

A £100,000 transfer, Lawrence, stayed with the Welsh club for five years and became a firm fan favourite. He made 216 appearances, netting fifteen goals, for the Racecourse Ground club between 2001 and 2006 before earning a move to Swansea City in 2006 for an undisclosed fee.

Lawrence yet again became an integral part of his sides defence over the next two seasons, making 93 appearances for Swansea and scoring seven goals as he helped them win League One last season.

However, Lawrence, who has 61 caps for his country to his name, found himself pushed out of the Swansea team for the start of the 2008/09 season and moved to Crewe on-loan recently.

So far, the towering centre-back has made just one appearance for the club, this his debut in the 3-1 defeat against Northampton on Saturday, but he is sure to help the Crewe defence during his loan spell.

At six foot seven, Lawrence is a dominant presence in the air and is more than usefull with the ball at his feet too. He is a definate threat from set-pieces in the opposition area.

The Johnstone's Paints Trophy:

Tranmere's fixture with Crewe is the only one on Monday night, although there are plenty of fixtures elsewhere on Tuesday and Wednesday in the trophy this week.

The Northern section sees League Two side Rotherham take on Leeds in a Yorkshire derby on Wednesday, a match that is live on Sky, whilst on Tuesday there are several more exciting fixtures.

Again in the Northern Section, high-flying Bury from League Two take on Stockport County who boosted their confidence recently with a 3-1 win over Oldham, whilst in what is sure to be a fiercly contested derby match, Scunthorpe United host Grimsby Town.

In the Southern section, Hereford United host Swindon in an all League One clash whilst Gillingham welcome League One side Colchester United.

Team News:

Tranmere are set to start both Ian Goodison and Edrissa Sonko, as the game is being played on a Monday to insure that the international players can play in this fixture. Elsewhere, Bas Savage could be rested for Tranmere after looking very tired against Carlisle on Saturday, whilst Rovers are expected to go back to a 4-4-2 formation after playing 4-5-1 at the weekend.

Jones' Prediction: Tranmere Rovers 2-0 Crewe Alexandra

Tranmere's home form of late has been poor, with successive defeats to Colchester United and Oldham Athletic, although both of these have come in the league, whilst this match is of course a cup fixture. Ronnie Moore and his side will most certainly be looking to put this right as they go in search of a trip to Wembley as they try to win the Football League Trophy for a second time.

Crewe are low on confidence after another dissapointing defeat at the weekend and both the manager and players are under a lot of pressure to start picking up results. Tranmere on the other hand will have plenty of confidence going into this game after their terrific win at Carlisle at the weekend and they will be looking to push on from that result.

Tranmere should, on paper and on form, be too strong for Crewe, although we know that Tranmere don't do things the easy way. However, they should have enough to beat the Alex, especially as goals now seem to be coming at a good rate, from all over the park and thus it is only their defence that really needs to be sorted in recent weeks, as leaking goals has cost not only their goal difference, but points as well.

There is, of course, the chance that the game could go to penalties though, should the match end 0-0 after ninety minutes, and we all know who will win if that happens...and it won't be the home side!