Tranmere Rovers vs. Millwall match preview

Ronnie Moore looking to guide Tranmere to their second consecutive league win for the first time since September
Tranmere Rovers face Millwall this Friday night for the first time since the two sides met in the F.A. Cup Quarter Finals in the 2003/04 season.

The game promises to be a fierce encounter between two sides desperate for points. Millwall are looking to push away from the relegation zone and are in fine form after sacking Nigel Spackman, whilst Ronnie Moore's Tranmere are looking to get three points which would fire them back towards the automatic promotion spots.

Millwall team profile:

Formed: 1885

Ground: The New Den

Manager: Willie Donachie (Caretaker manager)

Nickname: The Lions

Season Finish 2005/06: 23rd (Coca-Cola Championship)

Previous Meetings:

The last time Tranmere Rovers played Millwall was in the 2003/04 F.A. Cup Quarter Final, the third time Rovers had reached this stage of the competition five years.

At The New Den, Rovers drew 0-0 with Dennis Wise's Millwall, although the score could have been different were it not for John Achterberg. The big Dutchman saved a Kevin Muscat penalty in the 75th minute, despite the fact that he dived the wrong way.

Gareth Roberts had Rovers best chance of the game, as his long range effort was saved by Lions 'keeper Marshall, live on BBC Television.

Due to the 0-0 draw, a replay was arranged, and 15,510 people packed into Prenton Park for the match, just 900 less than for the game at Millwall.

However, the home fans were left in disappointment, as Dennis Wise' side were 2-0 up after just 15 minutes, thanks to well taken goals by forward Neil Harris and Tim Cahill, now Everton.

Rovers however were back in the match before half-time, as Iain Hume, now of Leicester City, ran down the right-wing and delivered an inch perfect cross to the head of Gary Jones who netted past Marshall.

Tranmere were now dreaming of another comeback like the one's they were famous for in the Aldridge days, against the likes of Leeds and Southampton.

Jones and Dadi both hit the post for Rovers, but the goal just wouldn't come, and it was Millwall who were destined for Old Trafford to play Sunderland in the semi-final.

Vital Stats:

After first meeting in the 1938/39 season, Tranmere and Millwall have only met 19 times, of which three games have been cup matches

Tranmere haven't beaten the Lions in their last five attempts

Millwall have never beaten Rovers in the league at Prenton Park, with Rovers winning 7 out of 10 meetings in all competitions

Tranmere are unbeaten at Prenton Park against Millwall in November, beating the Lions 5-1 and 2-1

Only three players who played for Tranmere in that F.A. Cup Quarter Final Replay remain at the club; John Achterberg, Danny Harrison and Ian Goodison

The Form Book:

Tranmere last 6 home games: LWLDDW
Millwall last 6 away games: LWWLLL

After a terrible start to the season, Millwall have started to find their form following the departure of Nigel Spackman. The former Liverpool and Arsenal midfielder was sacked after five consecutive defeats and since his departure, Millwall have started to pick up points on a regular basis.

However, away from home so far this season it has been a real struggle for Millwall. In their opening eight outings, The Lions have picked up just six points from an available 24, losing six games and winning two games.

They have also managed the record of scoring just nine goals, whilst conceding 18. They are in fact yet to keep a clean sheet on the road.

Recently however, they have managed two wins out of their last three games, victories against opposition who Tranmere have failed to beat on the road this season.

Firstly, after five consecutive defeats on the road, Rotherham were beaten 3-2 thanks to a 90th minute winner from Dunne after two strikes from Haynes completed a comeback from 2-0 down, whilst a week later, Carlisle United were defeated 2-1, with goals coming from Dunne and Hubertz.

Since these two wins, The Lions have lost their two game winning streak, as they were defeated 2-0 at The Liberty Stadium by Swansea City.

Leyton Orient (2-0), Yeovil Town (5-1), Cheltenham Town (3-2), Gillingham (2-1) and Crewe Alexandra (1-0) all beat Millwall on the road previous to these two victories, as the Lions fell to the foot of the League One table.

For Tranmere, it has been a completely different start to the season. After a dream start for new boss Ronnie Moore, as he watched his Tranmere side four consecutive home games whilst conceding just one goal in the process, his side have come off the rails somewhat, with just one win in their last seven league games.

After initial wins over Oldham Athletic (1-0), Yeovil Town (2-1), Leyton Orient (3-0) and Bristol City (1-0), Tranmere have won just one of their last four home games.

Firstly, league leaders Nottm Forest came to Prenton Park and left with a point after earning a 0-0 draw, whilst Huddersfield Town then also left with a point three days later; as they came from 2-0 down to earn a 2-2 draw.

Tranmere then lost their unbeaten home record as Port Vale came to Prenton Park and won 2-1 on a Friday night, before Bournemouth made the long trip up to the Wirral last Saturday and left empty handed after a 1-0 defeat.

Rovers have also played one home game in the cup competitions, against Darlington in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy this Tuesday. Tranmere lost the game 1-0 after putting in a dismal display, as their dreams of making a trip to Cardiff were shattered.

Double Hit:

As always, it is difficult to find a player who has represented both Tranmere Rovers and their opposition, Millwall on this occasion. One player who has had the rare treat of representing both clubs is Chris Malkin.

Malkin, who was born in Birkenhead, started his career at Stork AFC before he moved to Tranmere on a free-transfer. The striker made 212 league appearances, of which 48 were from the substitute's bench, for Tranmere, scoring 60 goals in the process.

He also made 38 League Cup and F.A. Cup appearances for Tranmere in his eight years on the Wirral, scoring 9 goals, but he will most certainly be remembered most fondly for "that" goal at Wembley.

In the Division Three play-off finals at Wembley against fierce rivals Bolton Wanderers, Malkin scored a last minute winner to guide Tranmere up into Division Two for the first time in their history, under the management of John King.

After eight successful seasons in Birkenhead, Malkin moved to Millwall for £400,000. The striker made 59 league and cup appearances for the lions in his 15 months in London, scoring 15 goals, before he moved back up north to Blackpool for £275,000.

The Tranmere legend finished his career at local rivals Chester City, where he made eight appearances in the 2001/02 season without scoring after moving to the club from AFC Telford.

Team News:

Tranmere have got a number of injury worries ahead of Friday nights match, most occurring in the defeat to Darlington on Tuesday night. Calvin Zola, Robbie Stockdale and Olly James will definitely miss the match, whilst there are also injury doubts hanging over Chris Greenacre, Ian Goodison, Paul McLaren, Steve Jennings and Kevin Ellison.

However, Ronnie Moore will be glad to welcome back on-loan John Thompson at right-back, after the Irishman missed the defeat to Darlington because he has already represented Nottm Forest in this season's Johnstone's Paint Trophy.

Jones' Prediction: Tranmere Rovers 2-0 Millwall