Woking v Tranmere Rovers
Vanarama National League
7.45pm Tuesday 31st January 2017
Following their excellent and much needed victory at Eastleigh, Garry Hill’s side continue their tough sequence of games on Tuesday evening when high-flying Tranmere Rovers finally get to play the Cards at the Laithwaite Community Stadium. Come down if you can to cheer on the side as they continue to haul themselves away from the relegation zone.
Woking’s win on Saturday was a huge boost to the side and especially as they had to play the last twenty minutes with ten men. The three points gained moved Woking out of the relegation zone and into 19th place. Tuesday’s fixture represents the game in hand that the Cards have over the majority of the sides around them so any points return will again prove hugely significant.
The arrival of striker Macaulay Bonne looks an excellent acquisition after his debut against Eastleigh and he will no doubt continue developing his partnership on Tuesday with Gozie Ugwu whose goal on Saturday was his first since last November. Garry Hill will almost certainly be without Brian Saah who suffered a groin injury on Saturday and Denon Lewis, who provided the excellent cross for Ugwu’s goal, will also be absent following his red card in the second half
Garry and his squad will know the importance of building on this current mini run of two victories on the spin. Some form of positive outcome from Tuesday game will help to cement Woking’s current position outside the danger area. However it wont be easy given our visitors’ league position as they battle to make it back to the Football League.
Tranmere failed last season to achieve promotion back to the Football League at their first attempt, ending up in a disappointing 6th place. Rovers won their first five games this season before drawing at Southport. Victory at Guiseley followed before they suffered their first defeat of the campaign, losing 3-1 at Aldershot Town. That was followed by another defeat, at home to Lincoln City. A goalless draw at York and defeat at Sutton by the odd goal saw Rovers slip to 5th place. Perhaps surprisingly, the Tranmere Board decided that this run of poor results was sufficient to part company with Manager Gary Brabin.
Brabin had concentrated in the summer on increasing Rovers’ options up front. England C striker James Norwood was already at the club, but Brabin added Andy Cook, Barrow’s top scorer last season with 24 goals; Connor Jennings, Wrexham’s top scorer and captain; and Darren Stephenson, who had scored 19 goals for Chorley. Two other new signings were midfielders Jay Harris, with Wrexham last season, and former Northern Ireland international Jeff Hughes, who had a loan spell at Prenton Park from Cambridge United last season. Other familiar names already at the club included imposing central defender Steve McNulty, winger and ex-Shot Adam Mekki, midfielder Lois Maynard and keeper Scott Davies.
Micky Mellon, the former Shrewsbury manager, was appointed to replace Brabin in early October. He oversaw an upturn in form from mid-October, the side going on a 10-match unbeaten run, which ended at Lincoln City on 17 December. In the holiday programme Tranmere beat Macclesfield Town at home but lost away. Two weeks ago our visitors had a comfortable 4-1 win against South Park at Prenton Park in the FA Trophy and have drawn Chelmsford City at home in the next round.
Mellon returned to Shrewsbury to bring back striker Andy Mangan to Prenton Park. Mangan had also previously played for Mellon at Fleetwood Town. Other arrivals have included midfielder Adam Dawson, signed from Eastleigh, who had a loan spell at the club last season; and winger Ben Tollitt, signed from Portsmouth for an undisclosed fee after a successful loan spell. Tollitt originally came through the Everton youth set-up. Midfielder James Wallace has recently signed a permanent 18-month deal after a successful loan spell from Sheffield United.
Rovers have slipped to 4th place following Saturday’s 2-0 reverse at home to Dagenham and Redbridge, which lifted the Daggers above them in the table. Away from home, Tranmere have won six league games, drawn four and lost four, scoring 19 goals and conceding 14.
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LAST TIME OUT
Tranmere Rovers 3 Woking 1
Vanarama National League
26 September 2016
The Cards went into this game with improved confidence following three wins and a draw in their previous five games whilst the home side had just sacked Gary Brabin after a poor run which saw only one win in the previous six games. The Cards played their part in a thrilling encounter and, at one stage in the second half, looked perfectly capable of claiming a point but were then undone by some clinical finishing and a penalty miss.
Woking showed up well in the first half but fell behind to an Andy Cook strike in the 34th minute. It was Cook who doubled the score in the 50th minute before Fabio Saraiva reduced the deficit with a mighty finish in the 68th minute. Unfortunately, Norwood immediately restored the two-goal advantage. Keiran Murtagh had an opportunity to pull a goal back again but his penalty kick was saved. In added time the home side gained a penalty, with Nathan Ralph also being shown a straight red, but Michael Poke saved the spot kick.
Tranmere Rovers: Scott Davies, Liam Ridehalgh, Steven Jennings, Steve McNulty, Michael Ihiekwe, Andy Cook (Ethan Jones 90), James Norwood, Ritchie Sutton, Louis Almond (Darren Stephenson 58), Ben Tollitt (Mitch Duggan 78), Lois Maynard.
Unused subs: Lee Vaughan, Iain Turner.
Goals: Cook 34, 49, Norwood 69.
Woking: Michael Poke, Joey Jones, Brian Saah, Connor Essam, Nathan Ralph, Keiran Murtagh (Anthony Edgar 78), Fabio Saraiva, Charlie Carter, Dennon Lewis, Gozie Ugwu (Chike Kandi 70), Sam Delano-Yorke (Zak Ansah 78).
Unused subs: Brandon Hall, Ismail Yakubu.
Goal: Saraiva 68.
Attendance: 4,214 (43 from Woking)
The Cards follow Tuesday’s game with a home fixture next Saturday, 4th February, when Solihull Moors are the visitors.
Come on, you Cards!