Tranmere Rovers vs. Millwall match preview

Chris Shuker, expected to start and hoping to score
This weekend, Tranmere will be looking to put right their recent poor home form as they take on Millwall at Prenton Park in Coca Cola League One.

Rovers have lost their last two league games on home soil and will be desperate to pick up three points as they look to close the gap between themselves and the play-offs, whilst Millwall have had a surprisingly excellent start to the season and will be looking to bounce back from an even more surprising drubbing at the hands of MK Dons last weekend.

Millwall team profile:

Formed: 1885

Ground: The New Den

Manager: Kenny Jackett

Nickname: The Lions

Season Finish 2005/06: 17th (Coca-Cola League One)

Previous Meetings:

Last season, Tranmere did a brilliant double over Millwall and in the process of picking up their six points, they managed to keep two very important clean sheets.

The two sides first met on January 19th at the New Den at a time when Tranmere were in a desperate run of form and without an away win since early October.

Millwall dominated the early exchanges of the game and indeed they were having the majority of chances, with Danny Coyne making several important saves.

However, it was Ronnie Moore's side who had the ball in the back of the net first, although Calvin Zola's tap in after Jennison Myrie-Williams' shot had been spilled by the goalkeeper was ruled out for offside.

The home side continued to dominate for the majority of the match and in the second half they looked likely to be the only side who would score, with Rovers rarely venturing inside the Millwall half of the field and Danny Coyne playing the key role in the match.

Then, in the dying moments of second half, with the match heading for a bore 0-0 draw, substitute Mike Jones won Tranmere a free-kick 30-yards from goal, which was swung in by Paul McLaren and powerfully headed home by defender Antony Kay, handing The Rovers a terrific 1-0 away win.

It was exactly four weeks later when the two sides next met and once again Tranmere picked up a pleasing and somewhat more comfortable victory over the Lions at Prenton Park.

After Millwall had had the best of the early exchanges, Tranmere took the lead after just ten minutes. Paul McLaren's corner was cleared only as far as Steven Jennings on the edge of the area, whose shot was heading wide, only for Shane Sherriff to instinctively stick out a foot and divert the ball into the net.

The away side continued to have plenty of chances and looked most likely to score next, coming closest when Robbie Stockdale headed a shot off the line as Rovers defended desperately in an attempt to keep another clean sheet against the Lions.

Tranmere had some chances themselves though and indeed the game was as good as over on the stroke of half-time as Ian Moore made it 2-0 to Rovers, the striker running on to Andy Taylor's terrific ball down the left-wing, beating his man and then expertly curling the ball round the goalkeeper and into the bottom corner.

Vital Stats:

In twelve home matches against Millwall, Tranmere have picked up an impressive nine wins and two draws

Rovers have never lost a home league game to the Lions, their only defeat coming in an F.A. Cup Quarter Final reply in the 2003/04 season, a game which Brian Little's Tranmere lost 2-1

Four of the last eight meetings between the two sides have been draws

Tranmere have scored twenty-eight goals in twelve home games against the Lions

These two sides have met three times before in October, with each side picking up one win to go with a single draw

On This Day:

2003: Tranmere suffer a disasterous 6-0 defeat away to Plymouth under caretaker manager John McMahon

1988: John King's Tranmere defeat Middlesbrough 1-0 in the League Cup

1980: Rovers a hammered 5-1 away to Port Vale in Division Four

Tranmere have played twelve previous fixtures on October 11th, picking up four wins, two draws and six defeats. However, they've not won a league game on this day since 1968. They have scored sixteen times and conceded twenty-three goals on this day.

The Form Book:

Tranmere last six home matches: WLLWWW
Millwall last six games: LWWWWL

Amazingly, Millwall have played eleven games so far this season, and only four of these have been away from home, with the Lions playing just two away matches in their opening seven games.

The Lions started their six match sequence with a 1-0 defeat at home to Colchester United in the Johnstone's Paints Trophy before going on a four match winning run which started with a 2-0 win over Hartlepool United at the New Den.

Alexander then scored the only goal in a terrific 1-0 win at the Walkers Stadium against Leicester City before beating Colchester United once again, this time in the league, with Alexander and Martin scoring in a 2-0 win.

Millwall's most recent win was a tight 2-1 victory over Swindon Town at the County Ground, before last weekend Kenny Jackett's side were brought back down to earth with a dump as they were smashed 4-0 by MK Dons.

In their other two away games this season, Millwall lost 4-3 at Boundary Park against Oldham on the opening day of the season and drew 0-0 against Northampton Town.

They have played four away league games this season and picked up seven points from an available twelve thanks to two wins, one draw and one defeat.

Millwall come into this game lying sixth in the League One table having picked up seventeen points from an available twenty-seven in their opening nine league games, thanks to five wins, two draws and two defeats.

Tranmere have now played six home games this season and their home record is far from poor, having picked up four wins and two defeats.

Rovers first home game of the season saw them beat Hartlepool 1-0 thanks to a Craig Curran strike, before goals from Bas Savage, Antony Kay, Craig Curran and Ian Moore were enough to see Tranmere beat Northampton Town 4-1.

Edrissa Sonko then scored the only goal in a 1-0 win over Accrington Stanley in the Johnstone's Paints Trophy first round, before Tranmere slipped to a dissapointing 1-0 defeat at home to Oldham in the league a few days later, with Steven Jennings controversially having a goal ruled out for Tranmere.

In their next home game, Tranmere lost a stunning match against Colchester 4-3 at Prenton Park, with each sides scoring their fair share of quite brilliant goals, with Ryan Shotton scoring the pick of them for Rovers as he picked up the ball inside his own half, carried it thirty yards and then struck the ball into the top corner from 30 yards.

Rovers have played one home match since the dissapointed Colchester result, beating Crewe Alexandra 1-0 in the Johnstone's Paints Trophy second round courtesy of a late, deflected goal from substitute Chris Shuker.

Tranmere have played four home league games this season, picking up two wins and two defeats, meaning they have picked up six points from an available twelve.

They lie twelfth in the League One table after nine games, having picking up thirteen points from an available twenty-seven thanks to four wins, one draw and four defeats.

Notable results away from home for Tranmere include wins over Huddersfield Town (2-1), Carlisle United (2-1) and a 2-2 draw with Peterborough United.

Double Hit:

Current Tranmere striker Bas Savage spent part of last season at the New Den, where he less than impressed the Millwall faithful before moving north to join Ronnie Moore's side.

Big Bas will be hoping to get one over on his old club this weekend
Made famous for his moon-walking antics upon goalscoring, Savage started his career with Reading, where he made eighteen appearances and as well as failing to score, he failed to impress.

In 2005, after three years at Reading, in which time he also went out on loan to Wycombe and Bury, Big Bas joined Bristol City on a one-year contract, but just one goal in 23 games meant he was on the move again in September 2006, joining Gillingham on a free transfer.

Fifteen games at Gillingham provided just one goal and it was not until he moved to Brighton and Hove Albion in January 2007 that Savage really began to enjoy his football.

He scored ten times for the southern coast side in fourty-two games and became a firm fan favourite at the Withdean Stadium, not only because of his goal celebration, but because of his general love for the game, excellent hold up play and silky skills.

In February 2008, Savage joined Millwall on a free transfer but despite scoring twice in eleven games for the Lions, he was never a hit at the New Den liike he had been at Brighton, and in the summer he was released.

After a successful trial at Prenton Park, Savage signed for Tranmere in July 2008 and he has so far missed just one game for Tranmere this season as he has become an integral part of the team.

One To Watch: Gary Alexander

Striker Gary Alexander started his career with West Ham, where the academy graduate failed to ever make a first team appearance.

After a successful loan spell in the 1999/2000 season with Exeter, when Alexander netted nineteen goals in fourty-five games, the London born striker signed for Swindon Town for £200,000.

One season at the County Ground saw Alexander score nine times in fourty-six games before he moved on again to Hull City for an undisclosed fee.

Whilst with Hull, where the striker played under former Tranmere manager Brian Little for a brief period, Alexander was a first team regular and he played seventy-eight games over an eighteen-month period for the Tigers, netting thirty goals.

Such form was enough to convince Leyton Orient to sign the striker, again for an undisclosed fee, in January 2003 and he would stay at Brisbane Road for the next four and a half years.

He played 199 games for the O's and scored fifty-five goals, playing a huge role as Leyton Orient won promotion from League Two in the 2005/06 season.

In August 2007, Alexander joined Millwall on a free-transfer, and after taking sometime to settle in at the New Den, Alexander has now begun to find his best form.

He has now played sixty games for the Lions and although he has scored only eleven goals, three of them have come in his nine games this season.

A tall, powerful striker, Alexander is not particularly quick a long the ground, but he is a certain threat in the air and will need to be watched and marked closely by the Tranmere defenders when he is in the penalty area.

Now twenty-nine years old, Alexander wears the number eight shirt for Millwall.

Around League One:

The League One fixtures this weekend start on Friday night, when Hartlepool travel to Northampton for a mid-table clash. A win for either side would lift them right up towards the play-offs and put them above Tranmere before Saturday's fixtures.

On Saturday, there are a further nine fixtures, although Leicester's match against struggling Yeovil Town has been postponed due to international call-ups.

This means that Scunthorpe have a chance to go top of the table, although they will have played a game more than the Foxes, as they host struggling Crewe who Tranmere of course knocked out of the Johnstone's Paints Trophy on Monday.

Third placed Oldham take on Hereford on Sunday at Boundary Park, although the Latics have now slipped to four points off the top following last weekends 3-1 defeat against Stockport, whilst Hereford continue to prop up the League One table.

Leeds take on Brighton who have slipped off the pace somewhat in recent weeks whilst Walsall are at home to Peterborough, with the Posh having a chance to go above the Saddlers in the table if they win.

At the other end of the table, Colchester United, who yesterday appointed former Celtic player Paul Lambert as their manager, have a tough match against Martin Allen's revived Cheltenham Town, with a win for The Robins taking them above the U's and out of the relegation zone.

Team News:

Tranmere Rovers are without both Ian Goodison and Edrissa Sonko who are away on international duty with Jamaica and Gambia respectively, with Godwin Antwi and Chris Shuker expected to take their places. Craig Curran, who has missed the last two games with injury, could earn a place on the substitutes bench, but otherwise, Tranmere are expected to name the same side that won 1-0 over Crewe in the Johnstone's Paints Trophy on Monday, meaning they are to continue with the 4-4-2 formation.

Jones' Prediction: Tranmere Rovers 1-1 Millwall

This is a tough game to predict, as both sides are in somewhat inconsistent form, especially Tranmere who, of late, have been in excellent form away from Prenton Park, but struggling whilst back at home on the Wirral.

Without the immense pressure that is Ian Goodison in defence, Tranmere could well struggle, having conceded five goals in the two games he's missed this season and Millwall will most certainly be looked to capitalise on this.

However, Tranmere have begun to find their shooting-boots of late, having netted eight goals in their last four matches and they will be looking to continue their form in front of goal this weekend.

Rovers have been getting goals from all round the field, and indeed their leading scorer is right-back Ryan Shotton, who has scored three times, whilst strikers Bas Savage, Ian Moore, Craig Curran and Chris Greenacre each have two goals.

After recent home defeats in the league, confidence may be low for the Tranmere players and the fans may well begin to get on the teams back should they fall behind, so it is crucial that Tranmere net the first goal in order to keep the fans on their side.