Tranmere Rovers vs. Leyton Orient match preview

Moore please!
Tranmere Rovers are looking to make it five wins in a row this weekend as they take on Leyton Orient at Prenton Park in Coca-Cola League One.

Orient's trip to the Wirral means the much despised Sean Thornton could feature for only the third time at Prenton Park since his controversial move to Sunderland in 2002, although injury has kept him out of recent fixtures.

Leyton Orient team profile:

Formed: 1881

Ground: Brisbane Road

Manager: Martin Ling

Nickname: The O's

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

Previous meetings:

The last time these two teams was little over a month ago, when Tranmere travelled down to Leyton Orient for a re-arranged Tuesday night fixture after the game had originally been postponed due to Tranmere's involvement in the F.A. Cup.

With just eleven minutes on the clock, Tranmere fans had their hopes of a first away win since October severely harmed as the home side opened the scoring thanks to a strike from Wayne Gray at the back post after Tranmere had failed to clear a corner.

For the rest of the half though, Tranmere dominated, and it is remains a mystery to this day how they did not score, with Taylor, McLaren and Zola all forcing 'keeper Nelson in to good saves.

However, just after half time, Shane Sherriff was sent off for Rovers after he picked up a silly yellow card for a needless challenge by the half-way line, and it was all down hill from here on in.

With just ten men, Tranmere were always going to struggle. They still had a decent amount of possession for the fifteen or so minutes, but they were now struggling to create goal scoring chances, with only Calvin Zola having a decent effort on goal from 20-yards after breaking free of his man.

On 84-minutes, Tranmere received a hammer blow as former Rovers midfielder Sean Thornton doubled Orient's lead. The Irishman broke down the Tranmere right and after getting into the penalty area, he cut inside and hit a brilliant shot with his right foot, curling the ball into the top corner.

On 91-minutes, Orient then got a quite flattering third goal as substitute Jason Demetriou. The substitute beat Robbie Stockdale on the Orient left and after breaking into the area, he hit a quite brilliant shot across goal and into the bottom corner from a very tight angle.

Vital Stats:

In only one of the last nine meetings between these two sides have both teams scored

Tranmere have beaten Leyton Orient seven times in eleven games at Prenton Park, with Orient picking up two wins as well as two draws

In a total of 23 meetings at any venue between these two teams, there have only ever been four away wins

In seven of the last eight games between these two teams, the home side has scored three or more goals

Tranmere have netted 24 times in eleven home games against Leyton Orient, with the O's netting just ten times

On This Day

2002: Tranmere lose 2-1 away to Huddersfield Town, despite taking an early lead through former Everton striker Paul Rideout

1990: John King's Tranmere hammer Birmingham City 5-1 at Prenton Park in Division Three

1980: Rovers beat Lincoln 1-0 in Division Four at Prenton Park

On February 9th, Tranmere Rovers have played eleven previous fixtures, picking up four wins, three draws and four defeats. In these eleven games, they have scored 16 goals whilst they have conceded 17.

The Form Book:

Tranmere last 6 home games: WWDLWW

Leyton Orient last 6 away games: DLLDLL

Leyton Orient's away form this season has been pretty dire, as the O's come to Prenton Park without a win in their last seven games on the road. Indeed, it has been Orient's away form that has disappointed in recent months, and it is no doubt that their poor form away from Brisbane Road is the reason behind them slipping outside of the play-off places in League One.

Orient started their six match sequence with a 1-0 defeat away to Carlisle before picking up a quite surprising 3-1 defeat at Bournemouth on Boxing Day.

The O's then picked up an away point on their travels thanks to a 1-1 draw against Hartlepool United at Victoria Park, but it was back to losing ways two weeks later when they travelled to the City Ground and lost 4-0 against Nottingham Forest.

Two weeks ago, Northampton beat Orient 2-0 at Sixfields Stadium before Leyton Orient picked up a midweek away point at Walsall thanks to a 0-0 draw.

There have however been some impressive away results for Orient this season, including early season wins away to Southend (2-1), Crewe (2-0), Bristol Rovers (3-2) and Huddersfield Town (1-0).

From fifteen away league games this season, Leyton Orient have picked up 19 points from an available 45 thanks to five wins, four draws and six defeats in their fifteen away games.

Notable results at Brisbane Road for Leyton Orient include victories over Walsall (1-0), Bournemouth (1-0), Oldham Athletic (1-0) and Tranmere Rovers (3-0).

Tranmere Rovers recent home form has been almost faultless, with five home wins from their last six games league games at Prenton Park, as well as a draw in the F.A. Cup in between.

After a couple of disappointing defeats at Prenton Park, Tranmere followed up a 3-1 win over Bournemouth with an impressive 2-0 win at home to Carlisle thanks to goals from Antony Kay and Paul McLaren before a goal from Calvin Zola was enough to secure Rovers a 1-0 win over Cheltenham Town.

Ronnie Moore's side then drew 2-2 at home to Hereford United in the F.A. Cup third round before they slipped to a shocking 2-0 defeat to Bristol Rovers thanks to a shocking display against the Pirates at Prenton Park.

Since though, Tranmere have picked up two consecutive home wins, firstly beating Yeovil Town 2-1 on home soil before following this up with a 2-0 win against Gillingham on the Wirral.

Other notable home results for Tranmere include wins over Luton Town (2-1), Huddersfield (3-0), Bournemouth (3-1) and Brighton and Hove Albion (2-0).

From fifteen home league games, Tranmere have picked up 27 points from an available 45 thanks to eight wins, three draws and four defeats.

Tranmere have had a number of notable away results this season, including wins away to Carlisle United (1-0), Millwall (1-0), Leeds United (2-0) and Southend United (2-1).

Double Hit:

Leyton Orient midfielder Sean Thornton is
one of only a handful of players who has played for both these two clubs throughout his career..

The Irishman came through the youth ranks as a highly talented youngster at Prenton Park and made his debut during the 2001/02 season when Rovers were managed by Dave Watson.

Thornton went on to make eleven appearances for Tranmere and scored one goal in a 2-1 win against Wigan, but with his contract expiring on the Wirral, the midfielder did the dirty on Tranmere, illegally signing a contract with Sunderland.

Thornton went on to sign for Sunderland in July 2002 and made 64 appearances for the club, netting nine times as well as securing promotion to the Premiership in his time with the Black Cats.

Whilst with Sunderland, Thornton also had a one month loan spell at Blackpool, for whom he played four games.

However, like many other talented youngsters, Thornton couldn't keep off the alcohol and he was left the club in June 2005, joining Doncaster Rovers for a fee of £175,000.

Still the problems continued for Thornton, and his performances on the pitch were affected by his heavy drinking as his form was inconsistent and it is believed by some Doncaster fans that he put on weight.

He made 77 appearances in two years for Doncaster, scoring four goals in the process of which one, a 25-yard strike against Aston Villa in a 3-0 League Cup win against the Premiership side, was undoubtedly the greatest moment of his time with Donny.

At the end of the 2006/07 season, Thornton however was released by Doncaster manager Sean O'Driscoll and he joined Leyton Orient on a free-transfer.

Now 24, Thornton, who won 12 under-21 caps for Ireland, has played 21 times for Orient this season and he has scored three goals, one of which came against Tranmere whilst another was a 30-yard scorcher on debut against Southend.

It is not yet known whether Thornton will return to Prenton Park on Saturday due to an "injury", but if he does play, there is no doubt that Tranmere fans will give him the reception he deserves - and that's not a standing ovation.

One To Watch:
Jason Demetriou

Midfielder Jason Demetriou is an exciting prospect of the Leyton Orient academy who has already scored against Tranmere Rovers this season.

Demetriou, who can also play at right-back, came through the ranks at Orient and signed his fist professional contract with the club in the summer of 2006 after making his debut in the 2-0 Football League Trophy win over Yeovil Town in November 2005.

So far, the skilful winger has made 57 first team appearances for the O's and he has scored six goals, of which four have come this season [incidentally, Leyton Orient haven't lost a game in which Demetriou has scored this season].

The 20-year old has sublime pace and skill, with the ability to unlock defences by either running at them or with a superb cross. He has already showed his ability to Tranmere fans this season as he scored as a substitute and also put in a number of excellent crosses when the two teams met earlier this season, with Robbie Stockdale unable to cope against the youngster.

Around League One:

Tranmere Rovers against Leyton Orient at Prenton Park this weekend sees sixth place seventh in League One, with only one point separating the two teams after 30 games in the table.

Orient have been on the slide in recent weeks after they hit the top of the table, much like Tranmere Rovers, and they will surely be looking to return to the play-offs after Tranmere replaced them their last weekend.

Elsewhere, run away league leaders Swansea City, who now top the table by ten points (ahead of second placed Doncaster and with a game in hand) travel to Gresty Road to take on Crewe Alexandra who slipped into the relegation zone last weekend with a 3-0 defeat away to Brighton and Hove Albion.

Second placed Doncaster Rovers take on 15th placed Bristol Rovers at the Keepmoat Stadium, with both sides looking to push on from wins without conceding in their last games.

Leeds United, who also slipped out of the play-off places last weekend, travel to Northampton Town for what is sure to be a tricky test whilst Walsall, fifth in League One and in good form at the Bescott Stadium, take on Yeovil Town.

Nottingham Forest have a home game against Millwall, whilst Carlisle, now third in League One but only two points ahead of sixth placed Tranmere, take on bottom club Port Vale at Vale Park.

At the other end of the table, Bournemouth travel to Kenilworth Road to take on Luton Town, a game which sees 23rd play 22nd.

Team News:

Ian Moore is set to make his first start at Prenton Park since returning to Tranmere on deadline day, whilst Chris Greenacre could again feature as he continues his recovery from a groin strain. Steve Davies and Chris Shuker are both out with knee injuries, but otherwise Ronnie Moore has no other injury problems.

For Orient, former Tranmere midfielder Sean Thornton, that's the one who lied and deceived the club, is injured and could miss out. Shame, as Rovers fans quite enjoy telling him what they think of his dirty deeds, weight, hair and alcohol problem.

Jones' Prediction: Tranmere Rovers 3-0 Leyton Orient

The home team has a habit of winning this fixture, and hopefully this time round will be no different. With Tranmere having picked up four consecutive wins, and Orient without a win in their last seven on the road, Ronnie Moore will be seeing this game as one that cannot be lost if Tranmere are to keep up their good form and maintain their push for promotion.

Again, the Tranmere manager has nearly a fully fit squad to chose from and it is quite likely that he will pick the same side that comfortably won 2-0 at Elland Road against Leeds last weekend. If Rovers play anything like they did in that game, a victory will not be too far away.

With Zola and Moore upfront and Myrie-Williams on the wing, Tranmere now have plenty of pace when going forward and this should help them to get round the back of the Orient defence.

Rovers then have the inform Paul McLaren and superb Steven Jennings in the centre of midfield, a partnership that has blossomed this season and one that cannot only create goals but is starting to score them and stop them too.

Goals have been flowing more recently, with strikers and midfielders netting in the last three games and their strike power should be too much for the Leyton Orient defence to handle.