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Match Previews

BIG MATCH PREVIEW: United head to Tranmere at the weekend

We take a closer look at Saturday's opponents

28 March 2019

Tranmere have hit the kind of form every team is searching for at what is a vital stage of the season.

James NorwoodTheir current stats read like a promotion-chasers dream as they head into the weekend fixture with the Blues on a run of eight games unbeaten which includes, of course, the much-talked about steam train of six consecutive victories.

Just two goals conceded within that eight-match spell shows that their current blistering streak has been built on a base of defensive solidity, and they've also developed an ability to pick up important results on the road, as well as on their own turf.

The prolific James Norwood has a massive 28 goals to his name - 26 of them coming in league games - and he clearly has just one thing in mind once he gets within shooting range as his assist column reads at only two. 

Former-Blue Mark Ellis is a familiar face at the heart of the back line having established himself as a regular since the middle of December in what has become a reliable and stubborn unit.


Manager’s thoughts

Steven PressleySpeaking ahead of the game, United boss Steven Pressley said: “Tranmere have found consistency in their results and there is no doubt they are a side full of confidence because of that.

"They have a way of playing, particularly going forward, which can cause teams a lot of problems if the movement and approach isn't dealt with. Defensively at the moment they haven't been giving too much away, but we've watched their recent performances and we know there are areas where we feel can cause them problems.

”As I said at the weekend, I've been very pleased with our recent performances. We've started to see the way we want to play come through and the players look very comfortable with it. If we can now tidy up in both boxes I know we'll get the wins we deserve.

"Another thing we keep saying is that it is such fine margins in this division. We know we could have had six points from Forest Green and Cambridge, and the disappointment was that we drew both games. What we have to remember is that we are still very much in touch with the play-off places, and achieving a top seven finish still remains our aim."

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Did You Know?

Dixie Dean+ A young Birkenhead player named William Ralph ‘Dixie’ Dean made his debut for Tranmere Rovers at the age of just 16 years and 355 days in 1924.

+ Following the expansion of the Football League in 1921 to a Third Division each for the north and south of England, Rovers were accepted into the Third Division (North) and played their first fixture against Crewe Alexandra at Prenton Park on 27 August 1921.

+ In 1999/2000, under former-hero John Aldridge, victories over a succession of Premier League sides led not only to a place in the quarter finals of the FA Cup, but a place in the final of the Worthington Cup - the first time Rovers had ever reached a major cup final. However, after coming from a goal down to equalise, Tranmere eventually lost the match 2-1 against Leicester City.


Head to Head

Regular combatants, the clubs have met a total of 86 times in all competitions over the years. It’s another fairly even split with United slightly edging 34 victories to 33 for Rovers.

  Carlisle wins Draws Tranmere wins
League 31 16 28
Cup 0 2 0
FA Cup 1 0 3
League Cup 2 1 2
Total 34 19 33

Tranmere took all three points home from their trip to Cumbria in September. The Blues had 15 minutes to forget at the end of the game as a penalty miss was followed by an own goal from Tom Parkes and a killer blow from Paul Mullin just before the final whistle.

Watch the highlights from that game here:

Our last meeting prior to that was in February 2015, at Prenton Park, when a quickfire double from Charlie Wyke just after the break secured a 2-0 away victory for the Blues. It came at a price as Kyle Dempsey received his marching orders deep into time added on.

Watch the highlights from that game here:

The league meeting at Brunton Park earlier that season was a tense affair, but a nice finish from David Amoo with just 20 minutes left to play proved to be the difference as the Cumbrians battled their way to a hard-earned three points.

Watch the highlights from that game here:

The trio of meetings from that season was completed, again at Prenton Park, when the sides came together in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy. Brad Potts got on the end of a good move to cancel out a first half Max Power goal, but it was Tranmere who progressed as they got the better of the penalty shoot-out, winning by 5-4 at the end of a very long night.

Watch the highlights of that game here:


Man in the middle:

Scott DuncanThe referee for this game is Mr Scott Duncan. He has taken charge of 28 games so far this season and has shown 90 yellow cards and seven reds.

The last time we saw him was for our home game against Wycombe Wanderers in October 2017. Sam Saunders and Adebayo Akinfenwa had brought the game back to 2-2 after Reggie Lambe and Jamie Devitt had scored for the Blues, and Lambe appeared to have won it for the hosts with just six minutes left to play.

Paris Cowan-Hall brought a halt to the celebrations when he equalised with the last kick of the game. No United names were taken on the day. 

Referee – Scott Duncan
Assistant Referee 1 – Akil Howson
Assistant Referee 2 – Mark Dwyer
Fourth Official – Daniel Middleton


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