Managerless Tranmere Rovers host Brighton and Hove Albion at Prenton Park in a crucial battle for both sides at the wrong end of the League One table.
I think it goes without saying that both clubs have severely under-achieved so far this season. After receiving substantial financial backing in the summer from long-time Seagulls fan and betting tycoon Tony Bloom, Brighton were expecting to mount a play-off push at the least but the Seagulls currently sit 17th in the table following a 2-0 win over Gillingham in midweek which lifted them out of the relegation zone.
Tranmere are in the relegation zone and could face being cast adrift from those who are clear of the bottom four should they lose this match. Rovers recently sacked manager John Barnes after a dreadful start to the season and will need to start picking up points sooner rather than later if they are to stand any chance of staying up.
Tranmere have a good record against Brighton over the years. The hosts are unbeaten in their last 7 league meetings home and away against the Seagulls and will be hoping to extend that run to 8 games with a victory at Prenton Park.. They have won their last four home meetings against the visitors, conceding only once so the omens look good for the Whites.
Brighton boss Russell Slade performed nothing short of a miracle to achieve safety for Brighton, despite them being in the bottom four for a long period of time. Slade`s arrival coincided with an upturn in results which eventually led to the Seagulls securing their League One status on the last day of the season.
Tranmere have not impressed defensively or going forward so far this season, scoring only nine league goals and conceding twenty seven. Players at both ends of the field will have to be sharper if the Wirral club are to improve their results. A cutting edge is needed going forward whilst full concentration and good communication are required at the back.
The result of this game could have big implications for both sides. A win for Tranmere could kick-start a revival and a surge up the table whilst a Brighton victory would send Rovers deeper into trouble at the bottom of League One and could give them vital momentum heading into two consecutive home games.
Tranmere Rovers Team News:
Caretaker boss Les Parry will be without goalkeeper Luke Daniels after his sending off in the 1-0 defeat to Stockport on Monday night. Joe Collister is expected to deputise. Bas Savage remains sidelined with an achilles problem.
Player to watch: Alan Mahon
After a poor start to his second stint at Tranmere, the 31 year old Irishman will be looking to give an improved performance and prove to the Tranmere fans that ex-manager John Barnes was right to give him a three year contract.
Brighton & Hove Albion Team News:
Russell Slade will have Adam El-Abd available after he finished serving a three match ban. Liam Dickinson is likely to feature after overcoming an ankle problem which saw him hobble out of the 2-2 draw at Yeovil last Saturday.
Player to watch: Nicky Forster
Still going and seemingly getting better with age at 36 years old, the Brighton frontman is amongst the top scorers in League One and, if given the chances on Saturday afternoon, will surely prove why.
Match Facts & Stats
[b]Last Six Games[/b]
Moore – 4
Welsh, Curran – 2
McLaren, Shuker, Gornell, Ricketts, Edds, Bain – 1
Forster – 7
Dickinson – 3
Tunnicliffe, Crofts, Bennett, Elphick – 1
[b]Last Time Out:[/b]
Tranmere 1-0 Brighton
An injury-time strike from Antony Kay, who is now at Huddersfield Town, ensured that the hosts took all three points on an awful December afternoon at Prenton Park.
[b][i]Tranmere:[/i][/b] 6/4 [b][i]Draw[/b][/i] 21/10 [b][i]Brighton[/i][/b] 6/4
Tranmere 0-2 Brighton
Unusually pessimistic of me to predict a loss for us but I don`t think we have the cutting edge going forward or the confidence at the back to keep a clean sheet. (I`d love to be proved wrong though!) Forster and an own goal to send us deeper into the mire.
Tranmere: Hartlepool [A]
Brighton: Oldham [H]