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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Tranmere Rovers Preview

A very lucky three points last weekend, when outplayed, outshot and outcornered as well, against a County side that are reportedly gutted at the way things ended up. But after scoring one goal in our customary fashion we also did the business in what is fast becoming another trait of ours, winning in fouls committed and yellow cards. Parky clearly has some thinking to do on the long trip north to the Wirral. Dare he start with the same team again (surely not) and with what striker duo will he play, that's if he still believes in 4-4-2.
Anyway, Tranmere Rovers. That's the team that drew with Scunthorpe on the last day of the 2008/09 season therefore handing their Play-off place to the Irons so they decided to sack Ronnie Moore and employ John Barnes in an attempt to go one better. As we all know the plan backfired last season and after 14 games Barnes was sacked soon after a 0-5 loss to the spanners, Tranmere's worse result for 5 years. And it was that win, with the spanners languishing in 15th place and 12 points behind the Addicks that arguably turned their season around and propelled them up into 3rd place. Come on Parky we have score to settle.
After Barnes, the current boss at Tranmere is 52 year old Les Parry, ex physio, a rather strange choice but beggars can't be choosers and when Barnes was sacked last October with Tranmere 3rd from bottom, Parry it was. And just like Exeter, they survived, just, by winning their last game. Tranmere were at already relegated Stockport and they won 3-0.

Only 4 teams outside the top six won more games at home that Tranmere last season and the season before only Leeds won more home games. So it was all a bit of a shock when this year things once again failed to go to plan because they've started the season with four straight home defeats with two league defeats to Oldham 1-2 and Bournemouth 0-3 followed by losing to Swansea 1-3 in the League Cup and they also lost to the infamous Accrington Stanley on penalties in the Paint thingy which all in all didn't make it the best of starts at Prenton Park.

So on to September and the visit of Peterborough with Tranmere down to where they started under Parry at third from bottom with just 2 points from 4 games and with the lowest league crowd figure down to 4600 so clearly Parry's job was on the line. Thankfully for him the game was won 1-0 with 19 year old midfielder Frenchman Arnuad Mendy making amends for their bad start in his first league game for Rovers since his on-loan signing from Derby with a 44th minute winner.
But then last weekend away at Yeovil they once again came unstuck by conceding 3 goals in the first 27 minutes and this against a team that had scored only three times in their 5 League games. The final score; 3-1.

So one win then and 2 league defeats at home gives them the 21st worst home record in Tier Three and they are now 4th from bottom with just 5 goals scored in 6 league games. Not that we are much better currently with just 4 games scored in our last 5 games.

The Opposition

Nine different players have scored for the Addicks this season while only 5 players have scored for Tranmere but they do have a top scorer with 3, number 7, the Nigerian from Kilburn, Enoch Showunmi ( surely a windup) but he's a tall and bustling striker and possesses pace, so clearly Miguel will be on the bench once again.


Trenton Park was opened in 1912 so its nearly a 100 years old but with a capacity of 16789 was obviously built when Tranmere was bigger than it is now for the latest census shows a population of only 11668 and crowds are already falling to 4,600.

Last time at Trenton Park we had a team of Elliot; Richardson, Dailly, Llera, Youga; Sam, Semedo, Racon, Shelvey, Bailey; Burton and after 4 wins in a row a draw looked on the cards, to me anyway. But this is how the game was reported on the official site "Clearly superior in midfield, where Sam was a constant thorn in Tranmere's side, the gulf was evident all over the pitch. This was a side, remember, that was relegated rock bottom of the Championship last season. But Parkinson has instilled a spirit and quality within the ranks that certainly looks likely to result in a sustained promotion challenge." Oh, if only we were able to say the same come the weekend and repeat our 4-0 win that saw Sam get a couple, Semedo score his only goal for us and Bailey get the other and complete a record breaking 5th league win in a row at the beginning of a season.

There's only been 12 long league seasons spent in the company of the likes of Tranmere and with two cup games thrown in during the very first season we played them leaves the honours in all games depressingly even with both teams having home records of 5 wins, 6 draws and only 2 defeats. Our massive total of two wins at Tranmere then in 13 games were last season's spectacular 4-0, our biggest win ever there and a 1-0 back in April 1975 during our promotion season.

You remember it, we failed to win our next 4 games after the Tranmere game, losing to Bury(!) and Chesterfield(!) and drawing with the Posh and Hereford - heady times, uh - so we had to win our last game at home to Preston to clinch 3rd place ahead of Swindon. Curtis missed a penalty and we conceded after 10 minutes. There followed 40 minutes of torment before Bobby Goldthorpe scored his last ever goal for us on 52 minutes and then Killer finished them off with two goals. Goodbye to the Third Division after 3 long years.

So What Are They Saying?

Confused? While the Addicks were falling asleep and checking their emails at the weekend, Magpies boss Craig Short was seeing it all quite differently, "I'm really disappointed, but I'm pleased with the way we've turned around the way we're playing. I thought today was a good advert for League One football.

Parky, trying to hide his embarrassment, "We've got a new team and there was a little bit of tentativeness in our play" but over in the Prem, "Considering several visiting players signed for Blackpool only last month, the sophistication of their regular positional interchanging was impressive, " against Newcastle that was, which just shows that it can be done.

Meanwhile, over at Tranmere, manager Les Parry is thankful it's half-time at Yeovil. "We were abysmal in the first half hour. I was quite happy to go in at half-time 3-0 , thats how bad we were. We could have been five down and that wouldn't have been flattering for them." And that was after Yeovil had scored 3 times in 30 minutes when its taken them 5 previous league games to score that exact number.

The Team

Only 9th in the table and heading for mid-table obscurity but on the plus side we're definitely getting stuck in because only one team, Oldham, have conceded more than our 86 fouls and we're in equal 5th place on yellow cards and share top spot on reds. And we've already given away 2 penalties.

But after last weeks gift of 3 points Parky will be keen to press on and get some points with two games against 2 teams in the bottom four. And with only 2 points covering the top nine its looking like the most competitive division there is. But after celebrating our first three goal league game for 27 games at Orient back in August perhaps it shouldn't surprise us that Leyton are currently second from bottom having let in 10 goals while Peterborough and Bournemouth are the two highest scorers with 16 goals ( while we have a grand total of 7 ) but then again only three teams (Plymouth, Brentford and the Daggers) have scored less than Tranmere's 5 goals.

And as we found out last weekend, its goals that win games. Perhaps Parky should look back to Trenton Park last year and remember our 5 man midfield and Burton up front on his own. Although any thoughts that you might have of seeing Johnnie Jackson in a 5 man midfield seem out of the question with Fry's pace needed at the back again to cope with Enoch, so Jackson seems stuck as left-back especially with the reported injury to able substitute Chris Solly.

So defence looks set to be the same as against County but what will Parky do with the midfield. With the change at half-time improving things and with Racon the only player to miss our two League defeats it would seem certain that the man on the left will start, but will Parky be content with that one change. Because the real improvement came when Abbott and Benson were taken off and replaced by Sodje and Anyinsah.

Sodje must have seen his prospects of replacing Abbott dip somewhat after a poor showing in Tuesdays closed doors reserve game against the Daggers. Missing a penalty and a one-on-one he could only watch from the dug-out as 18 year old Tamer Tuna scored the equaliser from a pass from 17 year old Tosan Popo. The replacement of Joe Anyinsah by Popo, after an hour, tempts the thought that Parky could be getting him ready for a starting place at Trenton after becoming only the 4th player in Addicks history to score on his debut.

And there's the ongoing question of what to do with the wandering Lee Martin. Our Phil from nothingelsematters suggests that Martin be moved inside behind a single striker but Martin and Racon together in the middle seems a bit too radical for Parky who does like a settled team.

Parky's team then:

Elliot; Francis, Doherty, Fry, Jackson; Martin, Semedo, Racon, Reid; Benson, Sodje


Both teams that a recent combined goal record of 10 goals scored in the last 1080 minutes, at an average of one goal every 108 minutes. (tranmere 6 in 7; addicks 4 in 5 ) so unless things are changed around goals may be at a premium even remembering last seasons success. But this is a game that the Addicks, if they are to mount any sort of promotion challenge, must win. Its therefore a 1-0 away win but thats more my heart talking than my head.

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