Cards face tough opening day test
7:10pm, Thu 6th Aug 2015
Tranmere Rovers v Woking
Vanarama National League
3pm on Saturday 8 August 2015
The Cards couldnâ€™t have been handed a much tougher opening day fixture as they travel to Tranmere Rovers, tipped by many to make a swift return to the Football League. Managed by Gary Brabin, who has held the reins at Luton, Cambridge and Southport, they wonâ€™t be under any illusions about what to expect in the Conference and can be expected to provide a very testing afternoon for Garry Hillâ€™s side.
Garry Hill has made no secret of the fact that he believes that the Cards over-achieved last season in finishing in 7th place when you compare the Clubâ€™s resources with those of many of its rivals. And the signs are that the gap may have increased over the summer, with clubs such as Eastleigh and Forest Green Rovers continuing their spending sprees, whilst Garry will almost certainly have to operate with a smaller squad. On top of that, he has had to cope with a bigger turnover of players than in the previous summer, losing the highly experienced Adam Newton, Kevin Betsy and John Nutter through retirements, and Josh Payne, James Clarke and Joe McNerney to other clubs.
Garryâ€™s defensive signings look promising, however, with the experienced duo of Ismail Yakubu and Brian Saah forming a new centre back partnership, whilst Jake Caprice has every opportunity to make the right back position his own. Ex-Braintree Townâ€™s Nick Hamann will provide competition for Jake Cole in goal.
Godfrey Poku has arrived to reinforce a midfield, which looks potentially strong, with the skilful Keiran Murtagh, John Goddard and Joey Jones available, plus of course redoubtable captain Mark Ricketts if he is not deployed on defensive duties.
As usual, getting reinforcements up front has proved the most difficult task, although many clubs will envy the fact that Garry can continue to call on Scott Rendell to lead the line. Cards fans will be hoping that additions wonâ€™t be too long delayed.
Tranmereâ€™s fall down the football hierarchy has been swift and brutal. As recently as 2000 they appeared in the Football League Cup Final but two successive relegations have seen them drop out of the League. Ex-FA Chief Mark Palios took over the club during last season but could not prevent relegation. He has managed to lure Brabin from a coaching role at Everton to mastermind what fans will be hoping is a repeat of Bristol Roversâ€™ achievement last season in securing an immediate return to the League.
Not surprisingly, there have been many changes in the Tranmere squad. New arrivals include experienced strikers Anthony Mangan, who has previously won the Conference title with Fleetwood Town and scored 10 goals for Shrewsbury Town last season as they won promotion from League 2, and England C international James Norwood, joining from Forest Green Rovers, plus Johnny Margetts from Hull City. Midfield additions include Lois Maynard, who scored 12 goals for FC Halifax Town last season, and Jay Harris from Wrexham. In defence Brabin has brought in Martin Riley, a commanding centre back from Mansfield Town, who has previously appeared for Kidderminster Harriers, Cheltenham Town and Wrexham. His most recent signing is ex-Shot Adam Mekki, who had spells at Barnet and Dover Athletic last term.
Tranmere Rovers FC
Prenton Road West
Official website: www.tranmereroversfc.co.uk
Ring the Club Shop on 01483 772470 to find out if there are any places left on the Cards Trust coach. It departs at 8am and costs Â£30 for Members, Â£35 for Non-Members, and Â£15/Â£18 for Under 16s. Please note that Under 16s must be accompanied by an adult, with a maximum of two Under 16s travelling with one adult.
The Tranmere Rovers official site gives the following directions by car for fans travelling from the south: M6, M56 and M53 to J4. Take the fourth exit from the roundabout onto the B5151 (Mount Road). Continue for 2.5 miles when Mount Road becomes Storeton Road and turn right onto Prenton Road West at traffic lights. The ground is on the righthand side in 200 yards.
As regards parking, the website offers the following information: There is a very large car park at the ground which costs Â£5 per car per game. Car park tickets can be purchased in advance from the Ticket Office on 03330144452 and online at www.trfctickets.co.uk. Beware of a residents parking scheme which is in operation around on many roads around the ground.
Take the train to Liverpool Lime Street. The quickest route is direct from Euston but you may find cheaper options e.g. by travelling via Crewe. Check out www.nationalrail.co.uk or www.trainline.com
The Tranmere official site gives the following advice for getting to the ground from Lime Street: Head for the Wirral Line lower level station and board a New Brighton or West Kirby train to Conway Park, or an Ellesmere Port or Chester train to Birkenhead Central or Rock Ferry.
From Conway Park: Turn right outside the station and walk 100 yards to Birkenhead Bus Station.
From Birkenhead Central: Cross Argyle Street and walk along Borough Road, which runs parallel to the flyover. The ground is approximately a 30-minute walk.
From Rock Ferry: The ground is a 15-minute walk. Turn right outside the station onto Bedford Road. Continue along Bedford Avenue and Bedford Drive until you reach a road junction shortly after Prenton High School. Continue onto Mount Road and turn right at the first set of traffic lights onto Borough Road - the ground is five minutes on the left.
Willow Catering Stand (away supporters only) - behind the goal, facilities: fast food, licensed bar, toilets, Family Friendly Area (*Under-12s require tickets and must be accompanied):
Seniors (65+) Â£10
Young Persons (17-22) Â£10
Under-12 (must be accompanied) Â£2
LAST TIME OUT
The Cards travelled to Prenton Park in the First Round of the FA Cup on 11 November 2006, going down 4-2, with the Woking goals scored by Simon Jackson and Craig McAllister. The Woking side that day was: Shwan Jalal, Simon Jackson, Karim El-Salahi, Tom Hutchinson, Neil Smith (Steve Evans), Gary MacDonald (Saheed Sankoh), Karl Murray, Craig McAllister, Ollie Berquez, Steve Ferguson, Giuseppe Sole.
The Cardsâ€™ first home game is on Tuesday 11 August when newly-promoted Bromley are the visitors. The Cards are also at home on Saturday 15 August when Altrincham visit Kingfield.
Thereâ€™s a very attractive offer on hospitality in the Geoff Chapple Lounge covering the first four home games: see the news item dated 24 July.
Come on, you Cards!