Tranmere Rovers vs. Swindon Town match preview

The race for promotion is hotting up in Coca Cola League One, and this weekend Tranmere will be looking to close the gap between themselves and the play-offs as they take on Swindon Town at Prenton Park.

The Robins, under the new management of Danny Wilson, beat Tranmere on the opening day of the season and Rovers will be looking for revenge and three points, especially after drawing all of their last three home games.

Swindon Town team profile:

Formed: 1894

Ground: The County Ground

Manager: Danny Wilson

Nickname: The Robins

Season Finish 2006/07: 13th (Coca-Cola League One)

Previous Meetings:

Tranmere and Swindon met on the opening day of the 2008/09 season and Rovers were completely off colour, as the Robins convincingly won 3-1 at the County Ground.

It took just five minutes for Swindon to take the lead as Billy Paynter headed home from McGovern's cross to put the Robins 1-0 up and Swindon doubled their lead before half time when Cox ran unmarked and unchallanged on to Paynter's flick on and convincingly fired past Achterberg with 37 minutes on the clock.

After half time, the home side continued to dominate and on 51 minutes it was 3-0 as McGovern smashed home Cox's pinpoint cross from the edge of the six yard box.

Bas Savage scored his first Tranmere goal on his debut with 85 minutes on the clock, but his close range finish from Sonko's cross was nothing more than a concelation after Tranmere's poor performance.

Vital Stats:

The home side has won on eight of the last nine occasions when these two sides have met

Tranmere have won 16 of 28 home games against the Robins, with Swindon picking up four away wins

These sides have not drawn in their last ten meetings with each other

Tranmere have won just two of seven February meetings with Swindon

This is the twelfth out of thirteen consecutive seasons that Tranmere and Swindon have been in the same division. The two sides were relegated from Division One (now Coca-Cola Championship) together in 2000/01, and the only season when the two teams have not been in the same division was 2006/07, after Swindon were relegated to League Two the previous season.

On This Day:

1998: Tranmere lose a Division One match at Fratton Park 1-0 against Portsmouth

1997: A year earlier though, John Aldridge's side picked up a decent 0-0 draw in the same division against Stoke City

1983: Tranmere beat Swindon Town 2-0 at Prenton Park in Division Four, a result they will be hoping to repeat this weekend

Tranmere have played fourteen previous fixtures on February 28th, winning four, drawing four and losing six. In these fourteen matches they have scored eighteen goals and conceded nineteen.

The Form Book:

Tranmere last six home games: DDDWWW
Swindon last six away games: DDDLWL

Tranmere's home form this season has been excellent, with Rovers undefeated in twelve home league matches at Prenton Park ahead of this game, a run stretching back to October 11th.

Their six match sequence started with a 2-1 win over Walsall on December 28th, Antony Kay scoring a last minute winner for Rovers, before Tranmere thrashed Carlisle United 4-1 in their next home match on January 24th, Ian Moore scoring twice to go with goals from Gareth Edds and Steven Jennings.

In their next home match, Tranmere beat Stockport County 2-1, with Rovers giving Jim Gannon's side a footballing lesson and winning comfortably, the scoreline most definately flattering Stockport, before Rovers were forced to settle for a point in a 0-0 draw against Leyton Orient in their next home match.

Tranmere have had consecutive 1-1 draws since the Leyton Orient result, both against promotion chasing sides though, firstly against Peterborough United before last Saturday Rovers drew 1-1 with MK Dons, Terry Gornell scoring a late equaliser for Tranmere.

Other impressive results for Tranmere at Prenton Park this season include wins over Northampton Town (4-1), Scunthorpe United (2-0) and Leeds United (2-1).

Tranmere have played seventeen home League games this season, picking up 34 of an available 51 points thanks to ten wins, four draws and three defeats.

Notable away results for Tranmere include wins at Colchester United (1-0), Huddersfield Town (2-1), Carlisle United (2-1) and Leyton Orient (1-0).

Rovers come into this game in ninth place in League One having picked up 49 of an available 96 points from their 32 games. They have achieved this thanks to fourteen wins, seven draws and eleven defeats.

Swindon Town have hardly set the world alight with their away form this season, having picked up just one win in their last twelve matches in all competitions on the road, and it's because of this form that they lie so low in the League One table.

The Robins started their six match sequence with a 1-0 defeat against struggling relegation rivals Crewe Alexandra before goals from Peacock and Smith gave Swindon a 2-1 win at Brisbane Road against another struggling side, Leyton Orient.

Swindon then lost 2-1 against in form Huddersfield Town in mid-January before they picked up a 0-0 draw against Oldham Athletic, their first of three consecutive draws on the road.

Like Tranmere, in fact, these three draws have been 0-0, 1-1 and 1-1, as their second draw was at the Walkers Stadium against Leicester City, Cox scoring for Swindon, before in their last match on the road they drew 1-1 at another high flying club, Millwall.

Other notable away results for Swindon this season include wins against MK Dons (2-1) in the League and a Johnstone's Paints Trophy win over Hereford United (2-1).

Swindon have played fifteen away games in League One so far this season, picking up fourteen of an available 45 points thanks to two wins, eight draws and five defeats.

Notable results at the County Ground for Swindon Town this season include wins over Tranmere Rovers (3-1), Oldham Athletic (2-0) and Scunthorpe United (4-2).

The Robins come into this game in nineteenth place in League One having played 30 games and picked up just 33 of an available 90 points thanks to seven wins, eleven defeats and twelve draws, more draws than any other team in League One, bar Oldham, who have also had twelve stalemates this season.

Double Hit:

Over the years, as you would expect, with Tranmere and Swindon spending many years in the same division together, plenty of players have come to represent both the Robins and the Rovers.

One such player includes Kenny Beamish, who had two spells at his home town club, Tranmere Rovers, after being born in Birkenhead in August 1947.

A popular player, centre forward Beamish made 555 appearances in his career which, as well as Tranmere Rovers, included spells at Brighton, Blackburn, Bury, Port Vale and Swindon.

In his 555 matches, Beamish scored 159 goals, including 81 goals in 278 appearances for Rovers, playing for the Prenton Park club between 1965-1971 and then 1979-1980.

Leaving Tranmere for Swindon in 1980 after his second spell at the club, Beamish, now 33, spent time as a player at Swindon before taking over as manager at the club towards the end of the 1982-83 season.

However, he last just one full season with the club, as after leading the Robins to their worst ever finish in Division Four (17th place), his contract expired and he was released.

Now nearly 61, Beamish, is the Commercial Manager at Blackburn Rovers.

One To Watch:
Simon Cox

Young striker Simon Cox started his career with Reading where he rose through the youth ranks and he eventually made his debut for the club, aged eighteen, in September 2005.

However, he managed just nine appearances for the Royals and spent time away from the club with numerous loan spells at lower league clubs.

Three of these loan spells were during the 2006/07 season as he spent time on loan at Northampton Town, this after two spells with Brentford.

He made 21 appearances in these three loan spells, scoring three goals, before returning to Reading for the start of the 2007/08 season.

On August 31st 2007 though Cox joined Swindon Town on loan until January 2008 and he had a hugely successful spell with the Robins.

After scoring nine goals in twenty-one games for the club, he convinced them to splash the cash, spending £300,000 on the player as he joined Swindon on a permanent deal.

Since joining the Robins, Cox hasn't looked back and he has scored 25 goals in 52 games since joining the club on a permanent basis.

Nineteen of those goals have come this season, making Cox one of the highest scorers in League One this season, thus attracting the attention of many Championship clubs.

Now aged 21, Cox has terrorised a number of defences in League One this season, with his electric pace and deadly finishing from both in and outside the box making him one of the best strikers in League One.

Around League One:

As ever there are a number of hugely crucial and exciting fixtures in League One this weekend that could have a major effect on the relegation and promotion battle come May.

Starting at Prenton Park, and a win for Tranmere Rovers could see them lift themselves up to seventh in the table, above Leeds and Stockport, should results go their way. Defeat for Swindon on the other hand could mean they end Saturday in the relegation zone.

Seventh placed Leeds, two point above Tranmere on 51 points, host sixth placed Scunthorpe in a crucial game in the play-off race, with Scunthorpe, who this week signed Barnsley striker Kayode Odejayi on loan, just two point above Leeds though they have played a game less than Leeds.

Eighth placed Stockport, who managed to retain manager Jim Gannon this week, the boss rejecting a move to Brighton, have a tough fixture against Huddersfield Town at Edgely Park, with the Terriers on the march up the League One table and now only two points behind Tranmere.

The biggest game of the weekend though, without doubt, is at the Walkers Stadium, where Leicester City, first, host MK Dons, second. Leicester are twelve points clear of the Dons, though they have played two games more, but a 15 point gap could be one too great for the Dons to close over the remainder of the season, should they lose.

Third placed Peterborough have a tough home game against a Southend side who have beginning to pick up results recently, whilst another huge fixture in the promotion race takes place at the New Den, where fourth placed Millwall host fifth placed Oldham, only one point seperating the two sides in the table, whilst Oldham are only three points ahead of seventh placed Leeds.

At the other end of the table, two big fixtures in the relegation battle see Crewe travel to Brighton whilst Hereford host Leyton Orient.

Team News:

Again, Tranmere have several injury worries ahead of this game, with Ian Goodison and Danny Coyne both doubtful with the injuries that have forced them to miss matches in recent weeks. Andy Taylor should return to the squad though Aaron Cresswell may retain his place at left-back, whilst Greenacre and Curran will both miss out yet again.

Jones' Prediction:
Tranmere Rovers 2-0 Swindon Town

Swindon hammered Tranmere on the opening day of the season and Rovers will be looking for revenge in this fixture as they attempt to kick on after three consecutive home draws to push themselves up in to the play-off places.

At home this season, Tranmere have been excellent, with Ronnie Moore's side now undefeated in twelve home league games, winning eight and drawing four of those matches. So it is to be expected that Tranmere take the game to the Robins, attack them and look to win by a clear and comfortable margin.

The key man for Tranmere could once again be midfielder Charlie Barnett, who has been in good form on the left-wing in recent weeks, netting a goal against Peterborough just under two weeks ago, his first in the white shirt.

His crossing and set pieces have provided many chances for Rovers and so it is key that he has a good game for Rovers.

Rovers could start with Terry Gornell up front after the striker scored his first Tranmere goal last weekend, meaning he will be full of confidence and idneed he worked very well with Bas Savage up top last weekend.

However, Tranmere will also need to be wary at the back, with Cox a huge threat to the Rovers defence and one that the likes of Ben Chorley will need to watch carefully and mark out of the game.

Ronnie Moore's side though should have too much for the County Ground side and should they get the ball down and pass it around, they will create numerous chances and should comfortably get the three points.