Tranmere Rovers vs. Port Vale match preview

Steve Davies, hoping for another goal against Port Vale
Friday night football returns to Prenton Park this week, with Rovers looking to grasp their chance and go top of League One with a win over Port Vale.

The game is Rovers second home Friday night game of the season, and a repeat result of their previous 1-0 win over Bristol City will see them jump from fourth upto first, ahead of Bristol City, Scunthorpe and Nottm Forest, if only for less than 24-hours.

Port Vale team profile:

Formed: 1876

Ground: Vale Park

Manager: Martin Foyle

Nickname: The Valliant's

Season Finish 2005/06: 13th (Coca-Cola League One)

Past Meetings:

Last season Tranmere did the double over near rivals Port Vale, beating the Valiants 2-0 at Vale Park and 3-0 at Prenton Park.

On December 31st, New Years Eve, Tranmere travelled to Vale Park for a 2:00pm kick off, hoping to continue their recent mini run of results, which had seen them draw with Walsall and beat Yeovil.

Brian Little's side did not dissapoint, as Danny Harrison opened the scoring on seven minutes with a 25-yard effort which bobbled into the bottom corner, and then in the 90th minute, Chris Greenacre, a former Stoke player, scored with a fine header after a good cross from substitute Jason McAteer, to put Rovers 2-0 up and secure them the points.

Four months later, on 31st March, Vale came to Prenton Park and left empty handed, as Brian Little's side offered up a 3-0 drubbing on what turned out to be a brilliant Friday night.

Calvin Zola gave the Super White Army the lead on 28-minutes, with on-loan Stephen O'Leary netting Tranmere's second in the 59th minute, before Steve Davies scored a brilliant and well deserved first home league goal on 79-minutes, beating Goodlad from just inside the penalty area.

Vital Stats:

Port Vale haven't scored in their last four visits to Prenton Park

Since the 1994/95 season, Port Vale and Tranmere have been in the same division, bar 2000/01, with vale relegated to Division 2 (now League One) the season before Tranmere

Tranmere have won seven home games in a row against Port Vale

Tranmere have lost three in a row on October 13th

The last time Tranmere played on Friday 13th, they were defeat 2-0 by Hartlepool in the first leg of the play-off semi final, 2004/05

The Form Book:

Tranmere Last 6 Home Games: WWWWDD
Port Vale Last 6 Away Games: WWLLLW

Vale enjoyed a fantastic start to the season, which saw them top League One after August, and they have continued to stay in and around the promotion places ever since.

Their away form so far has been consistent, in the way that they seem unable to string a decent run of results together.

After winning their opening two away games 1-0 up at Oldham Athletic and down south in Cheltenham, the Valliants promptly lost three away games in a row.

Firstly, they were defeated 1-0 at high-flying Yeovil Town, before suffering a 3-0 drubbing at Scunthorpe and then the agony of a 2-0 defeat at Valley Parade against Bradford.

However, they won their last away game, against Northampton Town, a place where Rovers have also won this season. Vale beat The Cobblers 2-0, with Pilkington and Moore scoring the goals.

At home, Vale have prospered greatly, mainly due to the good scoring form of strikers Leon Constantine and Akpo Sodje (brother of the four other Sodje's who play football at various clubs in the Football League and Nationwide Conference).

Leyton Orient (3-0), Chesterfield (3-2) and Blackpool (2-1) have all travelled to Vale Park and come away empty handed, whilst Martin Foyle's side have also defeated two Championship sides in the League Cup at Vale Park, with Prenton North End (2-1) and Queens Park Rangers (3-2) all exiting the cup at the expense of the league one side.

However, Vale have failed to win in any of their last three home games, picking up just one point in the process, with a 1-1 draw with Nottm Forest sandwiched in between defeats to Bristol City (2-0) and Rotherham United (3-1).

So far this season, Tranmere are undefeated at Prenton Park, collecting 14 points from an available 18.

Only Yeovil Town and Huddersfield Town have come to Prenton Park and scored, whilst only the afforementioned Huddersfield and Nottingham Forest have left The Wirral with a point.

On the opening day, Oldham Athletic were defeat at Prenton Park thanks to A Chris Greenacre goal whilst two weeks later, Yeovil Town lost 2-1 at Prenton Park, with Leyton Orient (3-0) and Bristol City (1-0) coming to Birkenhead and failing to pick up a point also.

However, Tranmere have drawn their last two home games, 0-0 with top of the table Nottm Forest and 2-2 with Huddersfield Town, a game in which Rovers lead 2-0 at half time and had a Chris Greenacre goal wrongly dissallowed on the stroke of half time.

Away from home, Rovers have been less than convincing, picking up just eight points from an available 21, as they have lost to all of Cheltenham (1-0), Bradford (2-0) and Rotherham (2-1).

Wins have been picked up against Chesterfield (2-0), thanks to an own goal and a Gareth Taylor strike and against Northampton (3-1), when Zola, Taylor and Mullin struck.

Against both Swansea and Doncaster Rovers, Tranmere picked up valuable points after defeats in their previous games, drawing 0-0 on both occassions.

Double Hit:

After a lot of searching without luck, I finally came across a player who has represented both Tranmere and Port Vale who you may be familiar.

David Beresford, the small, nippy winger who played for Tranmere under Brian Little had a short (no pun intended) one month loan stint at Port Vale in September 2000, signing from Huddersfield, playing four times in the league for The Valiants, without scoring.

Three years later, "Bezza" joined Tranmere on a free-transfer from Plymouth, and in his two year and eight month spell at the Rovers, Beresford made 44 league appearences for Tranmere (of which 23 were from the bench) and 11 cup appearences, scoring four goals.

He will be best remembered for the part he played in the play-off semi-final against Hartlepool at Prenton Park, when he came off the bench and scored late on to put the scores level on aggregate at 2-2.

Team News: Tranmere are likely to be without strikers Calvin Zola (foot) and Gareth Taylor (jaw), meaning that Ronnie Moore will once again be forced to start with Steve Davies and Chris Greenacre, should he fail in his bid to sign a striker on loan before Friday's game. Otherwise, Rovers should be fully fit, but Ian Goodison could miss the match, after missing the 0-0 drew at Swansea with what Ronnie Moore described as "family problems".

Jones' Prediction: Tranmere 3-0 Port Vale