MANAGER: They're on a really good run

Last season’s away game at Tranmere had just about everything from red cards and feisty challenges to a last-gasp equaliser that left the away fans celebrating and the home fans reeling.

Looking ahead to tomorrow’s game, manager Paul Simpson said: “I said last season that I think it’s a fantastic place to go.

“I think they’re really good supporters but I didn’t think they were very well behaved last season. That’s my honest opinion.

“I thought the stewards weren’t on it, and things got a little bit out of hand. The whole atmosphere got out of hand, but generally they really are good supporters.

“All through my career I’ve felt it’s a brilliant place to go, it’s a great atmosphere that they create. I like the hostility – and that’s the right word because it’s a good type of hostility they make for the visiting team – but I thought it went over the line last season. It just went a bit too far.

“I hope this weekend we get the good hostility, I hope it’s a really good atmosphere, and I know we’ll be backed by our fans who are going again in numbers. I hope the game is as entertaining as it was last year, and I hope we come out on the right end of the result.”

“It’s a hell of a test for us,” he added. “I said before the Orient game that these three games were going to be big tests. Orient, Stockport and this one.

“The first two we haven’t got anything out of. It’s still a test for us, it becomes a bigger test because of the fact we’re on the back of a couple of defeats and confidence has taken a hit.

“Tranmere are on a really good run, so they’ll be confident. I think I’m right in saying that they’ve had five wins and two draws, or something like that, so they’ll be another tough side to play against.

“They work very hard and Micky Mellon has his sides well organised. He has the spirit in the dressing room that we had, and we have to get back to that.

“We’ve got 24 points and we’ve gone a couple of games without picking any more up, so we need to get back on it. What a fantastic place to go and do it at.”

A familiar face in the home white shirt this weekend will be Saints defender Dynel Simeu, who was a real favourite with the Blue Army through the second half of last season.

“He’s a great lad, but he isn’t our player and that means we have to make sure we give him a test,” he told us. “Him playing for them doesn’t mean too much because it’s a team we’re up against, not just one player.

“Of course he’ll want to do well, but so should everybody or none of them should be out there. Dynel is a competitive defender in both boxes, but that’s the same for all of their players.

“We have to put all of the Tranmere players under pressure and make sure we compete in every area. This is a good team in good form, we have to deal with that and impose our own game on it.

“It’s about us performing to our standards and giving ourselves the best chance of a result.”

But does the aforementioned confidence factor play a part in that, with the Cumbrians looking to regain their form as Rovers appear to be clicking into top gear.

“The evidence is there in the performances we’ve seen at Barrow and Stockport that confidence has taken a knock,” he suggested. “So I’d say yes, confidence is low.

“I don’t care who you are, or whatever level you’re at, the best coaches in the world don’t have a bucket of confidence in their office either. Confidence comes from within.

“That’s down to your own standards. If things aren’t going your way, work hard to get over it. I always found as a player that if you got your first pass right, or you made a good run or block, or you got a shot off that worked the keeper, suddenly you feel a little bit better about yourself.

“You can make those things happen by wanting the ball and by giving it everything. When you’re low on confidence you have to build yourself back up and that’s why we’ve had a focus on getting the basics right.

“If you do get it right you find your confidence comes back. I can’t help them on that one, they have to be brave and want to make those runs and passes, and they have to want to keep getting on the ball.

“I can only talk to them and show them things, but confidence comes from within. We’ll do everything we can as staff to prepare them, but they then have to go and perform. That’s what will give them confidence.”

Unusual aside from cup replays is the schedule putting teams together in back-to-back fixtures, but the draw has made it so for this weekend’s combatants.

“It’s two games, one at home, one away, and you have to prepare properly for both,” he said. “It’s what you do out on the pitch that matters, that never changes.

“We will obviously know well what we’re up against when it gets to next week, because we’ll have watched them a lot, but it’s about getting out there and doing your job so that you get three points, and then into the next round of the cup.

“There will be the situation where if we play well on Saturday they’ll want to put that right, and that’s the same the other way round. That’s fine, but it’s still about doing it right in both. That’s what gets the results.”

Backing the Blues will be another one thousand (possibly more) travelling fans.

“I don’t ever expect to see these numbers but it’s wonderful to see the numbers we get,” he told us. “I certainly don’t take it for granted.

“I knew we’d sold a lot before Tuesday but when I heard the final number I was staggered. If we can get close to that again this weekend that’s brilliant.

“It’s just a pity we don’t get a share of it, but that’s how the EFL is at the moment. I massively appreciate everything the supporters do for us and I hope they’ve appreciated what we’ve been trying to do for them.

“The one thing I want to really do for them is get back to giving them something they can really appreciate as well.”

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