Mansfield Town FC meeting the opposition

Tranmere Rovers will look to extend their unbeaten run of form as they travel to Mansfield Town on Tuesday night.

The Rovers have picked up seven points in their last three games, following the weekend’s 3-1 victory over Gillingham.

It was a brilliant performance as the defence and midfield remained solid when required and Rob Apter continued his fine run of form, netting a brace.

Connor Jennings, playing at striker due to Luke Norris’ injury, also scored – a great way to celebrate extending his contract in the week.

Mansfield Town went away to Swindon Town and lost 2-1 on saturday, their first defeat of the season coming after 18 games, thus they’ll be looking to get back to winning ways.

Ahead of the game, I spoke to Mansfield Town supporter Sam Binch who runs the ‘MTFC Musings’ account.

Hi Sam, how long have you been supporting Mansfield? What was your first game?

I’ve been supporting Mansfield all my life, so 31 years. My first game was in March 1997 at home to Hartlepool, a 1-0 win with a screamer from Ben Sedgemore.

Could you tell us some of your best and worst moments whilst supporting The Stags?

Best moments would be getting promoted in 01/02, and the play-off semi final a couple of seasons ago at Northampton. This season’s 4-1 away at County was pretty good too.

Worst moments, getting relegated from the football league in 2008 and the play-off final at Wembley two seasons ago in which we didn’t do ourselves justice.

You run the Mansfield Musings account, @MTFCMusings. What’s the page all about?

Just views on The Stags really, I also publish a weekly newsletter details the weeks goings on.

Mansfield have had a phenomenal start to the season, how good does it feel?

Unfortunately we’re no longer unbeaten, after Saturday’s defeat away at Swindon, but it still feels pretty good. It’s incredible that we almost reached December unbeaten. We’re in a great position with a strong squad, hopefully we can finally achieve our aim of promotion.

Just how good was the summer transfer window as Mansfield narrowly missed out on a play-off spot last season?

It was pretty impressive, the squad as a whole didn’t require major surgery, but the defence definitely required a makeover. Aden Flint has been the catalyst for a transformation in our defensive solidity, he’s too good to be playing in League two. Lewis Brunt, Baily Cargill and Calum Macdonald have all played their part too.

A great reason for the amazing start is manager Nigel Clough, son of European Cup winner Brian. Formerly of Burton Albion, Sheffield United and Derby he was appointed in November 2020 and has a win percentage of 44.8 after 172 games. He must be loved!

He’s well liked, that’s for sure. That being said, there was a feeling before the season started that this would be his last chance, having only been handed a one year deal in the summer. He has proved he can oversee a play-off side but not yet proven he can take one to the next level, however he’s done a very good job so far this term.

What will be Clough’s starting eleven, tactics and formation on Tuesday night? It’ll be very tricky for the visitors at Field Mill. 

It will be a 4-4-2 diamond, as it has been all season. I think that the team will be: 












Mansfield are owned by The Radfords. How good are they and what are their current plans after buying the stadium completely in 2019?  

They’ve pumped so much money into the club, including building a state of the art training facility. They may have made questionable managerial decisions at times, but they put the money in and therefore they live and die by their choices.

Top scorer Davis Keillor-Dunn has netted 11 goals in 22 games whilst picking up four assists. Another one to watch out for on Tuesday night is former Rovers man Lucas Akins who has hit 7 in 19. Could you give us a quick scout report as TRFC will need to defend well! 

Keillor-Dunn benefits from the free role he has behind the front two. He roams where he likes, and is most dangers picking the ball up on the edge of the area or just inside, where he seems to create himself more time than most. Will likely take a high volume of shots. Akins is more of a link player,m. His touch is a bit hit and miss, but when on form he’s a strong forward who can hold off defenders and bring others into play.

What is your score prediction for the midweek tie in Nottinghamshire. The last time the two clubs met was in mid February as Mansfield won 2-0 at Prenton Park.  

I think we’ll bounce back with a 2-0 win.

Finally, what are your thoughts on Tranmere. The Whites have been struggling this season but are looking to turn things around after appointing former Southampton boss Nigel Adkins, following his time in interim charge. 

A good win at the weekend for sure and an experienced manager who is proven in spells at a higher level. We’re used to seeing Tranmere as a strong side in L2, so the last few seasons must have been a disappointment for the fans. I expect they will survive comfortably and move towards mid table.

Gillingham FC meeting the opposition

Tranmere Rovers return to Prenton Park this weekend as they host Gillingham FC in League Two action. 

The Whites have faced two relegation-threatened sides in their last two games, picking up four points after conceding in the dying moments at Gander Green Lane last Saturday. 

It’s safe to say that the second half down in Sutton didn’t meet the expectations that new manager Nigel Adkins had of his team, as the players looked like they had run out of steam.

It has been a big week at The Campus, Rovers’ training ground, as two players have extended their contracts: Connor Jennings and Sam Taylor. It has also been revealed that striker Luke Norris will be out for up to three months, requiring surgery on an injury sustained during Remembrance Day’s 3-0 win.

Gillingham are positioned 8th in the division after beating Salford City 3-1 at Priestfield and will look to carry on their good run of form.

Ahead of the game I spoke to Mail Sport and Kent Sports News freelance writer Lewis Browning who told me about the incredible turnaround under the new owners, The Galinson’s. 

Hi Lewis, how long have you been a Gillingham fan? What was the first experience like?

Hi mate. My first Gills game was in 2007 when I was eight years old. I got free tickets from my school so went with my dad and sat in the infamous stand with no roof. We lost 2-1 to Port Vale and it hammered it down all game. Start as you mean to go on and all that.

What have been some of the best and worst moments in your time following the club?

The best two moments are winning the 2009 play-off final and the 2012/13 title, both in League Two. I remember the play-off final so well, a late goal from Simeon Jackson in a 1-0 win and my dad picking me up and throwing me all over the place. I’ve also enjoyed some great away days, perhaps most notably beating Premier League Brentford on penalties in the Carabao Cup last season.

In terms of negatives, most have been in recent years. We were relegated from League One in 2022 and were bottom of League Two at Christmas last year. It was the worst it had been as a club in my time with money running out under Paul Scally and the Galinsons saved us. That takeover is one of my best memories too. 

You’re a podcaster and a freelance writer, could you tell us about the content you produce regarding The Gills?

So my writing is how I earn my living and it’s incredibly rare that’s about Gillingham. But podcasting is fun, it’s a hobby. I’m often on the ME7 Podcast, run by my friends James and Owen, and we talk about all things Gills twice a week. It’s done really well and players and staff get involved and we have a live show with a crowd coming up from Priestfield next month, which is pretty cool.

Gillingham finished 17th last season and are now placed just outside the play-offs. How great has the turnaround been?

The best turnaround was from Christmas last year to the end of the season. We were gone at Christmas and would have been relegated had the takeover not happened, but the second half of the season, after completely reshuffling our squad, was a dream and we achieved safety which was the sole aim. It’s been a bit slower going this season but it’s light years ahead of this time last year. 

How much credit would you give to new owners Brad and, wife, Shannon Galinson? The Florida-based businessmen came into the club in December 2022 looking to have an immediate impact.

All of the credit. They saved us, from relegation and as a slub, plain and simple. Both of them are so lovely and completely get what it means to be a Gills fan, one of the many things former owner Paul Scally was so out of touch with. They delivered on their promise of an aggressive January transfer window, helped us survive and have continued to plough money into the club and community, on and off the pitch.  

How great was the summer transfer window? 

It was alright, yeah. We had some really good pick-ups such as Shad Ogie and Conor Masterson, and other players that we’re now starting to see the best of, such as Jonny Williams and Connor Mahoney.

I do think we went into the season a little short. We needed at least one more winger and our struggle for goals has been obvious so maybe another forward too, but I expect we’ll put that right in January.

Stephen Clemence, Steve Bruce’s highly praised assistant at Aston Villa and Hull City, was appointed earlier this month following on from the dismissal of former Milwall boss Neil Harris. It will be the 45-year-old’s first managerial role, How happy were you with him coming into the club? Why was it time for Harris to leave?

It was a massive risk appointing Clemence because, like you say, it’s his first role. But he obviously did a great interview and we’ve already seen he’s very smart tactically, much smarter than Harris I think.

It was time for Harris to go because despite our league position we were the lowest scorers in the league and the method of our early wins wasn’t sustainable, which we were starting to see. Our attacking play was awful, I didn’t enjoy watching the team and we weren’t moving forwards. Goal scoring was an issue throughout Harris’ entire reign and it wasn’t changing. Brad wanted a more controlling and positive approach and we’re getting that now. 

January signing 30-year-old Tom Nichols, formerly of Bristol Rovers and Crawley Town, has netted three goals and picked up three assists in 20 games this campaign. How great is he? What’s his strengths? (We need a good scout report on him!) 

Tom is really good. He can be a hard player to understand because he’s a forward but he’s not really a natural goal scorer. He is really good on the ball and really clever and his link play is class.

I was surprised to see him start up front on his own against Salford last week but we had to get him back in the team and it was potentially the best we’d seen him. With us playing more ‘football’ now, if you like, he’s a really good player for our system and his goal on Saturday will give him confidence too. 

Looking to claim all three points, how will Clemence and Nichols work on Saturday? What will the starting eleven, formation and tactics be?

To be honest I’d be surprised if we weren’t unchanged. A 4-3-3 looks to be the way Clemence wants to go and I think his system can get the best out of our key players, getting Williams and Lapslie playing together as well and Mahoney on the right.

The defence won’t change. It’ll be Jake Turner in goal, Cheye Alexander right back, Ogie and Masterson centre back and Max Clark left back, unless Scott Malone is back fit, then he will play there. Ethan Coleman will sit in front with Dom Jefferies and I imagine Lapslie either side, though Tim Dieng might put his hand up for a place.

Up front it’ll be Mahoney right, Williams left and Nichols through the middle. Ashley Nadesan and Macauley Bonne will provide support from the bench.

Gillingham and Tranmere have played each other 37 times, The Rovers have won six more meetings than The Gills. The last time the two clubs came head to head was in March as Gillingham won 2-0 at Priestfield. What is your score prediction for the game this time ‘round?

Tranmere are struggling but I get they’re made a change recently, and that’s for the best. Despite being away it’s a nice fixture for us and I do expect us to be more commanding, which likely wouldn’t have been the case under Neil Harris. I’ll go for a 2-1 Gills win. 

Finally, what are your thoughts on Tranmere? New manager Nigel Adkins has picked up four points against two relegation threatened sides since being appointed.

Obviously the change was needed and that’s great to see because a club like Tranmere shouldn’t be getting relegated again. I think they’ll pick up and we’re already seeing signs of that under Atkins and they won’t be in trouble come the end of the season I wouldn’t think. But hopefully that doesn’t start yet!

Tranmere Rovers’ Prenton Park. 

After reading this chat with Gills fan Lewis Browning, why not give this week’s Mere Or Far podcast a listen? Zak Hayes is with me, as always, to preview the upcoming game and reflect on the point picked up at Sutton.

Sutton United FC meeting the opposition

Tranmere Rovers travel south to face Sutton United on Saturday afternoon, in the second game of November to be described as a ‘six-pointer’.

In the first game of such significance, Rovers comfortably cruised past Forest Green Rovers at Prenton Park. It was a performance to remember on Remembrance Day, with the opening goal coming from a corner on the 8th minute.

Kristian Dennis added the second after the break, in front of the Kop before Young loanee forward Rob Apter showed exactly what he can do to seal the all important three points.

The defence, an area that a lot of criticism has rightly been placed onto, also worked exceptionally well. Jordan Turnbull impressed and you haven’t been able to say that too much this campaign!

Ahead of the game against 24th placed Sutton, I spoke to Des from Gandermonium to ask why The U’s are positioned so low after a promising transfer window in the summer.

When did you first start supporting Sutton United? What was that first experience like?

First game was 1982, home to Hitchin. I was 8. I remember the ground back in it’s former athletics configuration, the one main stand, 2 smaller wooden ones on the Rec side. Mickey Joyce, a prolific goalscorer of that era, scored within about 30 seconds of us getting through the turnstiles a touch late just after kick off. Joycey can still be found about the place on matchdays today chipping in. I occasionally blame him for getting me into all this nonsense!

What have some of the best and worst moments in the time you’ve followed the club been?

Best would be Cup runs and playing the likes of Middlesbrough and Coventry. Leeds and Arsenal too. The latter run was quite something. Winning Conference South in 15/16 with a 26 game unbeaten run was special too. Of course, gaining FL status was amazing, but with the Covid restrictions we only saw 3 matches that season, so it all felt a bit weird!

Worst moments were 07/08 season. At the time, it was arguably the worst campaign in at least 50 years, if not ever for the club. We looked properly set to slide down the pyramid at that point, but thankfully we got things right the next season and here we are. Also ‘Piegate’ in the wake of the Arsenal game was shit too. Took a largely full strength top 4 PL side the distance with a performance Arsene Wenger himself described as ‘astonishing’ and all it’s remembered for is Wayne Shaw and his fucking ‘pie’. Front page of the Sun, the lot. Wasn’t even a sodding pie either, it was a pastie. Still, top bants eh?

[MOMENT] Goalie Eating Pie During the Match | Sutton United 0-2 Arsenal (2016-17 FA Cup 5R)

Could you start us off by giving us a random fact about either the club/the area of Sutton?

Our mascot is a giraffe. Two reasons for that, firstly there’s a vague colour match (look, just go with me on this alright!) and secondly, at the time we were thinking of getting a mascot, we had a strange connection to a 3rd Division side in Gambia who took our name after an expat agreed to fund them a kit, but only if they took the name Sutton United. No one knows who this geezer was, but the link lasted a number of years before the team went dormant. So as a little nod to them and that African link, we picked a giraffe. 

Could you also tell us a little bit about Gandermonium and how you’ve been doing recently?

Gandermonium is a blog I started waaaaay back in 1998. Just writing about games via match reports as we didn’t have much of an internet presence back then. It evolved over time more into being about the adventures of various idiots following the U’s along with the reports. I eventually packed it in at the end of 07/08 as it was basically just me doing it and I’d had enough after such a dreadful season and us not really being that good for a few years. Then a title win and 3 play off failures later in 2012, 2 fellow fans pestered me to bring it back. Eventually I relented, set them up a simple site and passed the baton whilst acting as an ‘Editor in Chief’ as such. 

Another 10 years of that and we’ve come full circle once more. I largely pulled the plug again at the end of last season as after going from a high point of 5 different writers spouting all sorts of nonsensical bollocks thinly disguised as match reports, we suddenly went back to it being just me again for one reason or another as people retired, got lives etc. 

Still, in that second spell, we didn’t miss a single competitive game between December 2012 and the end of last season, so it was probably time! We still do entries, but far far more sporadically now, as and when I fancy it or someone offers to knock something out for a particular match. It’s been fun though and it’s genuinely been touching finding out how many people have read it and got a chuckle out of it over the years. 

Sutton are managed by 42-year-old Matt Gray, he guided the club to promotion into the EFL for the first time in their 123-year-history after being appointed in 2019. How great has he been at the club? 

Matt’s been great for us. He had a bumpy start and was always going to find it hard to follow a long standing and very successful manager in Paul Doswell, but the club stuck by him and I think that really resonated with him as he dug in to find that winning formula. Paid off in spades as he took us into the Football League and then a first Wembley visit in 41 years with the Pizza Cup final. Suffice to say, he’s got plenty of credit in the bank and that’s helped a lot this season with the poor start we’ve had. Sure, there’s been people calling for his head, but nowhere near as many as if he’d been anywhere else. 

With The U’s bottom of the EFL, do you believe that Gray has the managerial ability to drag the team away from the drop?

Only one way we’re gonna find out! I do know that Matt will be working as hard as he can to turn it around, simply as that’s the kind of guy he is. Plus, as I mentioned above, I genuinely believe that the faith shown in him by the board and the club in those early days meant a lot to him and he wants nothing more than to repay it with being as successful as he can. Sadly, the squad’s not quite clicked this year, so it’s all about just getting points on the board, staying up and having another look at it over the summer. 

How will he approach Saturday’s game? (Tactics/Starting eleven/Formation).

We’ll play 442 or a variation of that. It’s just our way. Not sure if he’ll set up to be solid first half or hour and kick on from there or if we’ll come out front foot like we did against Notts and Walsall. In both those games, we scored early and then ran riot. Sadly, we’ve not seen anything like enough of that sort of performance this season.

Bruce Elliott is chairman of The U’s, a man who has been a fan since the 1960’s. At the moment, what are your thoughts on him? What are some of the current projects that the club is working on?

As you say, Bruce is a fan. Started in the Supporters Club. So no one’s calling for his head or anything, he and the rest of the board have been a steady hand on the tiller for many years now and one of the reasons why we are where we are. He’s always in the players bar after games and is perfectly happy for people to ask questions about what’s going on etc, which helps massively with supporters feeling involved. As for projects, I’d guess it’s currently about getting the last phase of upgrades done this season at GGL so that we fully comply with FL seating and capacity regs should we stay up. There should be a new stand of some description being thrown up on the Rec side at some point this season. Apart from that, I guess it’s business as usual, keeping us running and trying to find some other lunatics prepared to put money into a tiny FL outfit!

Summer recruitment, following on from a mid table placed finish in League Two, saw winger Omari Patrick being brought to Gander Green Lane as players such as winger Enzio Boldewijn and striker Omar Bugiel went elsewhere. With the transfers made did you believe that Sutton would be battling it out at the bottom of the division? Where would you say the greatest issues are in the squad?

Everyone was pleased with the recruitment. Solid, plenty of experience at this level and a bit of attacking nous in the likes of Partick. Sadly though, whilst this is probably the strongest squad we’ve ever had on paper, it just hasn’t clicked on the pitch in most cases. There’s definite ability there and when they turn up, they’re a bloody useful outfit  as 5-1 and 4-0 home wins over Notts and Walsall as well as the 1-0 win away at Wycombe in the Carabao Cup show. 

Sadly though, we’ve not turned up enough and conceded goals for fun far too many times this season and you’re only going one way if you’re averaging 2.5-3 goals against. Our issue seems to be in midfield where we’ve really missed Craig Eastmond and his replacements just haven’t quite done it yet. Our new wide players don’t seem to be offering our full backs a lot of protection either. Still, the goals against seem to be improving and we’re starting to put together a few more consistent performances, so we remain hopeful.

Summer signing Harry Smith, 28-year-old 6ft striker formerly of Leyton Orient, has netted nine goals in fifteen games as well as picking up two assists. How great of a signing has he been? Is he the main player to watch out for?

We’d already be as good as down if it wasn’t for Smith quite frankly. Perfect player for us, big lad up top, wins the flick ons but is also half decent playing to his feet and bringing in players around him. A lot of people were worried that losing Omar Bugiel would be an issue, however it’s turned out alright so far! 

Tranmere and Sutton used to regularly meet in the National League, both sets of fans making friends with each other. The last meeting between the two clubs was at Prenton Park in early January, finishing with a two-all scoreline as Josh Hawkes and Kane Hemmings netted for the hosts. Alistair Smith scored a brace for the visitors. What’s your score prediction for the tie this time ‘round? In your eyes, is it an early ‘six-pointer’?

Think it’s a touch early to talk about 6 pointers, but with the start we’ve had we absolutely have to start winning our home games regularly. Get 8-9 more of those this season and we’re a damn sight closer to that 50pts mark than we are currently and staying up is a bit less of a slog. Feel for Tranmere as we’ve got a soft spot for the whites from those NL days and are always made welcome at Prenton by the locals, but we gotta get results so I have to say a home win! For us, staying up is everything so 22nd will do. That extra half million or so TV money from next season is massive.

Match Highlights | Sutton United v Tranmere Rovers

Finishing off, your thoughts on Tranmere? Newly appointed boss Nigel Adkins has a lot to prove following on from his poor time as interim. Do you reckon that The Whites will go down?

I think we’ll both be fine though, as FGR look shocking and someone else always makes a late nosedive for 2nd bottom after Xmas. Plus with Adkins confirmed permanently, he’ll no doubt move to make a couple of additions in January to shore things up. I wouldn’t panic just yet.

Steve McNulty previews Tranmere’s back-to-back ‘six pointers’

Tranmere Rovers’ next two league games have been described by promotion winning captain Steve McNulty as ‘six-pointers’.

The Whites, currently inside the League Two relegation zone, will face two of their drop zone competitors in their next two league games, starting with a Prenton Park showdown against Forest Green Rovers on Saturday.

Forest Green and Tranmere used to consistently battle it out for promotion from the National League, eventually culminating in the 2017 play-off final which gave McNulty ‘probably the worst day’ of his career.

MerseySportLive spoke to the former Rovers captain who admitted that FGR always gave The Whites ‘tough games’.

McNulty also spoke about the struggles that Tranmere are facing this season.

The conversation started with that defeat at Wembley six years ago, as The Green were promoted to The Football League with a 3-1 victory.

Being ‘overconfident’ was Tranmere’s downfall in the eyes of the captain, who ‘didn’t contemplate losing’.

“Our confidence was so high so it was a really tough pill to swallow”.

The two clubs had played twice in the league before the final, Rovers losing the last meeting 1-0 with a goal scored late on at Prenton Park, and McNulty believes that The Whites had ‘done well’ in those games, ‘containing’ their rivals’ pacey attacking line.

However, he also believes that “the best side won on the day” as FGR ‘deservedly’ secured their historic win.

The player that scored that day for Tranmere was re-signed this summer, club legend Connor Jennings.

The 32-year-old has been one of the very few shining lights from an incredibly poor start to the 2023-24 league season.

McNulty spoke about the man who, in 2018, came off his death bed to assist James Norwood’s late promotion winning goal for the club, in depth.

“I’m not shocked that he’s one of the team’s standout players, as I know what he brings to the team. He’s a winner, a leader and he gets the most out of the players around him.

“He’s probably not as technically gifted as most in the team, but his work-rate, desire, his will to win and ability to get around the pitch more make up for what he lacks. The club need to get a few more in like him if they’re to climb up the table”.

After having won promotion from The National League via the playoffs in 2018, beating Boreham Wood in the final, in 2019 Tranmere got their ‘own back’ on FGR as they progressed to Wembley, beating The Green over two legs in the play-off semis.

McNulty sat on the bench for those games as even though ‘Micky said before the game he wanted me to play for my experience’, the captain’s ‘match fitness wasn’t great’ having spent a long period out of the starting eleven.

McNulty recalled those two games “We dominated, we were never really put under much pressure. They were great nights, with a great trip home from the game at The New Lawn – FGR’s ground”.

In the final that followed, against Newport, McNulty played the last ten minutes – surprising everyone as they believed that the team needed an attacker to come on rather than a defender, to find a winner late on.

The change proved a tactical masterstroke from then manager Micky Mellon, as McNulty dominated the defensive third and drove his team on to victory.

“It was a surprise for me, I travelled down expecting to not get on, but Micky had seen something and wanted to change it.

“It was a great day for everyone, I’m glad to have played a little part in it”.

I assured McNulty that the part he played was much more than ‘little’, as in the eyes of many, he changed the game. With McNulty on the pitch, Jennings netted in the last minute of extra time to spark jubilant scenes among the travelling Super White Army.

We then moved on to speaking honestly about the current team, McNulty taking a long pause and letting out a slight laugh before doing so.

“Without writing them off?! They’re struggling at the moment. I’ve seen the majority of the games and one of the stand out performers has been Jennings who was there with us.

“I don’t know how to put the criticism in the best possible way, they’ve just been conceding goals, there hasn’t been enough fight, there isn’t enough leaders. There is a lot of work to be done which hopefully Nigel, now he has been appointed (as permanent manager), will do.

“I have no doubts that they won’t go down, I think they’ll be fine and finish mid-table which most fans will take after the start they’ve had.

“I have everything crossed that they can change things ‘round and move up the table but it will be a tough old season”.

The Tranmere sides that McNulty was involved in had many dressing room leaders, and he believes that ‘a couple more leaders and winners need to be added in January’. He also believes that there isn’t many ‘homegrown’ players in the current squad.

“There aren’t many players from the Wirral or Liverpool in the team, players that know what it means for the local area.

“There is plenty of ability in the squad but the team need players that are able to bring the best out of those who aren’t performing well.

“It has been far too up and down and some consistency needs to be found”.

The greatest issue is the teams inability to defend, conceding 29 in the league this season as well as shipping four on the road against Stevenage in a Round One FA Cup exit.

“Centre halves Jordan Turnbull and Tom Davies have been sent off and things like that, so the backline keeps chopping and changing when it’s of great importance to get a stable backline.

“There has been a right footed player playing at left back, Dan Pike, the full backs have been changing a little bit.

“Goalkeeper Luke McGee has been great, another one of this season’s few shining lights but the team needs to get a settled back four and get used to each other.

“If they keep clean sheets, there’s lads in the team who have proven they can score goals.

“They have been scoring, they’re not goal shy but they can’t be expected to score so many to win games. It’s been tough on the lads up top and in midfield”.

Tom Davies, signed in 2021 from Bristol Rovers was made captain this summer after impressing since being brought to the Wirral. However, he has struggled in his new role.

McNulty spoke about his character despite not knowing him personally.

“He seems a great character and someone that people will be looking at so there will be pressure on him, he’s going to have to find a way to lead and to rally the team”.

The two upcoming league games are massive for Tranmere despite the season still being in its opening stages.

McNulty gave his prediction.

“Whoever turns up on the day will win those games, the two clubs are down the bottom with us, so it’s important to push up the table.

“We’ve both had bad starts to the season, I don’t like to say it this early on that they’re both six point games, but they are, so it’s important to take maximum points. These games may be the ones where confidence can be taken from to push up”.

Goalkeeper Scott Davies, who retired in 2021 after picking up a significant injury in a game towards the end of the season, was also captain alongside McNulty in an era where Tranmere won two promotions.

Davies has recently opened up about his mental health since his career ended, in a greatly significant and emotional episode on the A Trip To The Moon Podcast.

Our conversation finished, speaking about hearing of his fellow teammates difficulties.

“It’s tough. You sort of lose contact with lads as you go your own ways since you’ve got your own mates away from football. I had sort of lost contact with Scott, I speak to Micky now and again and have heard whispers that he has been struggling which is really not nice to hear.

“I wish him the best, I’ve spoken to him on the odd occasion and always said to him that he knows where I am if he ever needs me. It’s tough for the big characters to open up, I just hope that he gets better, it sounds like he’s on the road to recovery and I do believe that he will reach out if he needs me”.

Motors chairman Jon Waring backs recently appointed manager Danny Holmes to succeed

Vauxhall Motors have had a tricky start to their Northern Premier Division One West League season, following their promotion – sealed in a game at The VanEupen Arena – in the summer.

At the time of writing, The Motormen are positioned towards the bottom of the table and have exited the Cheshire Senior Cup with a defeat at home to Crewe Alexandra.

They have also been forced to contend with losing long serving boss Mick McGraa, who has moved on to pastures new at Bootle and taken a couple of players, including midfielder Sam Hughes, with him.

Former Tranmere full-back Danny Holmes has replaced McGraa in the dugout. It is his first senior managerial role after impressing as a coach at both Colwyn Bay and Connah’s Quay Nomads.

Merseysport Live caught up with Motors’ chairman Jon Waring to see how the club have been doing in an ‘exciting’ era following on from last season’s games against promotion chasing Bury.

Jon said “Achieving promotion was a really special feeling. There was a great sense of confidence because of the way the team were performing, especially in the games against Bury – Vauxhall won both home and away – it galvanized everyone for what was to come”.

Once promotion was confirmed, attention quickly turned to recruitment, as it inevitably has to when a club is faced with the challenge of competing in a higher division.

Jon explained “From what I saw over the summer period, when talking to Mick he was really happy, all of the lads seemed to have contributed to the existing squad that was there”.

Arguably the biggest deal of the summer saw 34-year-old Craig Curran, who started his career at Tranmere having come through their youth ranks before spending a great part of his career up in Scotland, come to Ellesmere Port.

Jon commented “He has all the potential, if we can get him on the pitch he will show what he’s capable of producing”.

Losing McGraa, after he guided the club to the Cheshire Senior Cup Final in 2022 before guiding them to promotion a year later, was never going to be easy to navigate through.

Jon gave his honest feelings on the move saying that he was ‘disappointed’ but that McGraa had always been ‘honourable’ and had ‘achieved what he had promised on a constrained budget’.

“I’d still class him as a friend and wish him the best but we had to and have moved on as a club”.

It was Mick’s former assistant Joe Heath, who left in the summer to go to Australia – a move which has been delayed until mid November, that answered the call to be interim.

It was the perfect number to dial as he navigated The Motormen through the rough period well.

“Joe was the first call – he knows the club, team and staff here and he was a fantastic player and coach here with Mick. I owe him a lot of gratitude to him for coming in and galvanizing the club and making sure the team was ready for the next manager.

It meant the committee never had to rush into making the next appointment, we had time to conduct a lot of interviews and that’s what we did”.

It was Holmes that came into the club from here, a man with no managerial experience before but someone who had stood out after interviewing many.

“Ultimately all the candidates were strong, had attributes and weaknesses. However, with Danny, when he went through his plan and how he wanted to do it there was a clear structure and thought process. When you look at what he’s done and who he’s been alongside, he’s got plenty of experience.

He’s obviously confident and he will be extremely detailed. He will leave no stone unturned and will be 100% committed all the time to give himself and the club the platform to succeed”.

Just like with any manager, there may be some ‘ups and downs’. However, Jon has ‘no concerns whatsoever about this being Danny’s first senior role and he is ‘prepared to take the journey with him and support him’.

It certainly helps that the club is on a ‘sound footing’, the future does seem exciting and Jon will ensure that this is the case by looking into the matchday experience and the things around the pitch.

“We’re trying to improve all the facilities around the ground so it’s a better experience for the fans, but we also want to compete. We’re not a million miles away, we’ve got a great deal of confidence in the squad and we will set playing targets once we feel comfortable”.

Holmes started his time at Vauxhall with a great win against Clitheroe at The VanEupen Arena before conceding in the last minute on Halloween night to draw three-all with high flying Leek Town.

The Motormen are next in action on Saturday afternoon as they travel to Trafford.

Morecambe FC meeting the opposition.

Ahead of Tuesday night’s game against Morecambe, I spoke to Dave Salmon.

Hi Dave, you do the commentary for Morecambe on their iFollow channel and talk on the Shrimps Live Podcast. Could you tell us how and when you started both of these roles? 

This is my second spell covering Morecambe. I originally did so between 2007 and 2013, and came back to front the commentary coverage at the start of the 2021/22 season. We launched the Shrimps Verdict podcast at the same time. 

What have been some of your best and worst memories following the club?

Promotion into the Football League in 2007, and then into League One for the first time in the club’s history in 2021 will never be beaten. There have been some great away days too, going to superb stadiums such as Hillsborough, Pride Park and Portman Road, it’s the stuff that fans could only dream about a few years ago. 

There have been low points too. Relegation struggles to stay in the league, and being relegated away from home back onto League Two on the final day of last season, when a win would have kept us up.

Could you start us off by giving us a random fact about Morecambe? (The place/The area).

The Beatles played a gig in Morecambe just a few weeks before they had their first number one single in 1962.

Morecambe were relegated from League One last season and currently stand 10th after twelve games, winning six this league season. What were the key factors behind the relegation? 

Budget, simply. It was just as big an achievement to stay up for a second season in League One, but lack of investment simply meant that despite best efforts, the squad just fell short. A little more investment in the January transfer window may have made the difference.

This summer saw a lot of change. Two of the many that were recruited included striker Charlie Brown from Cheltenham and midfielder Yann Songo’o from Bradford City. How impressed were you with the club’s business?

The club signed 16 players in the summer after our financial issues meant we had to release everyone under contract and couldn’t offer new deals to existing players. We have trusted in youth, with many new players aged between 19 and 22, in the form of permanent signings and loans. Many have already caught the eye. 

The Shrimps are managed by Derek Adams. The 48-year-old who was a midfielder in his playing days, spending all but one year up in Scotland for clubs such as Motherwell and Ross County, was re-appointed in February 2022 after a short spell at Valley Parade with Bradford City. How happy were you with the appointment? How good would you say his relationship is with the fans and how exciting is his style of play to watch?

Derek is the perfect manager for us and is pretty much universally admired by the fan base. He took us into League One for the first time in out history and is arguably the only person who could deal with the turmoil behind the scenes, while building a quality, exciting side on a shoestring on the pitch.

Our playing style is soak up pressure, keep our shape, and hit on the counter with pace, and on our game, is superb to watch.

How do you believe he will set up his side for the game on Tuesday night? (Tactics/Formation/Starting eleven).

We’re usually 4-2-3-1. We have a few injury doubts from the weekend, a suspension and a longer term injury. Our first choice keeper is the most likely absentee. So I’d imagine it will be: Smith; Senior, Rawson, Bedeau, Tutonda; Love, McKiernan; Bloxham, Major, Slew; Mellon

Adams’ bosses are Co-Chairmen Graham House and Rod Taylor. They joined in November 2018 as the club were taken over by Bond Group investments, a company that operate primarily in the venture capital and private equity sectors. How well are they running the club? What are the current exciting projects, if any?

That’s not quite correct. Graham and Rod have been on the board for many years, they weren’t bought in by the current owner. The situation is unusual in that the owner of the club isn’t on the board, and those who run the club excellently on a day to day basis have little say in financial aspects. The club is run on the lowest budget in the league, and has been up for sale for around a year.

Rovers legend Micky Mellon has his son playing for Morecambe, he – Michael – is the side’s top scorer with seven goals and an assist in twelve outings. The 19-year-old is on loan from Burnley. How good is he and who are the other ones to watch?

He’s going to be an excellent player and play at a very high level. He’s already one of the best strikers in the division and will only continue to improve. He has an all round game. A number of other players have also impressed. These include midfielder JJ McKiernan, fresh from a hat trick two games ago, academy graduate Adam Mayor, and right winger Tom Bloxham. All of these will cause Tranmere big problems at the back.

Focusing on another link, striker Cole Stockton had an excellent time at Morecambe between 2019 and 2023 netting 52 goals in 153. How good was he and was it the right time for him to leave?

Cole was instrumental in our promotion season, and then his 26 goals were a major reason we stayed up in our first season. He was undoubtedly one of the best forwards we’ve had in our history. He wanted to leave before the start of last season, but for various reasons stayed, and was always going to leave in the summer. We wish him all the best.

Rovers, according to, have faced Morecambe on ten occasions. Tranmere have won half of the meetings, Morecambe have won three. The last time the two clubs came head to head was in 2021 as Adam’s men progressed through to the League Two Play-Off Final where they would go on to win. How special was that period of time and what do you believe the score prediction will be this time round?

The play offs were a special time for us and the semi final had particular importance as it was when fans were just being allowed back into stadiums post lockdown. 

This time out, it’s two completely different teams and set ups. We’re unbeaten in six and unbeaten at home in the league all season. If we play anywhere near our level, we should comfortably get all three points.

Finally, what are your thoughts on Tranmere? The Whites, being guided by interim Nigel Adkins, are evidently struggling as they find themselves near the bottom of the division.

I get the impression you are an underperforming side, perhaps in a false position. You desperately need clarity on the managerial situation and I would want Adkins on a permanent basis after perhaps a mistake following Micky Mellon’s departure. I think you have plenty to be fine this season but we’ll be looking to take full advantage tomorrow. 

Doncaster Rovers FC meeting the opposition.

Tranmere host Doncaster Rovers on Friday night looking for their first win since their resilient performance against Bradford City just over two weeks ago. 

Nigel Adkins’ men conceded a goal from an Andy Cook header, equalising the scoreline for The Bantams that evening. Josh Hawkes would go on to miss a very tamely taken penalty before substitute Kieron Morris netted a late winner, sending great scenes around Prenton Park.

Last time out, an issue which has been the case since February, The Whites were again beaten on the road. Goalkeeper Luke McGee was sent off for dealing with the ball out of his box, Tom Davies was also dismissed late. 

Doncaster sit 19th in the League Two table having won four of their thirteen games. 

Ahead of the contest I spoke to supporter Daniel Nice, who informed me about Scunthorpe United’s 2009 Play-Off Final in which Doncaster manager Grant McCann featured in midfield and Adkins managed. 

Hi Daniel, how long have you been following Doncaster Rovers? What was your first game like?

My first game was at Walsall on Halloween in 1992, we weren’t very good and lost 3-1 yet here we are nearly 31 years later! We lost the final game of a torrid last season 2-1 at Walsall in May and it felt like the whole thing had gone full circle somehow. I don’t recall many details of the game itself but my early memories of Doncaster Rovers were of a ground falling to bits, and a team that had some good individual players in those early years like Darren Moore, Russ Wilcox, Graeme Jones and Colin Cramb but with no real hope or ambition of being anything other than a struggling bottom division side. Yes, it’s hard to see what appealed looking back! That’s football, I guess; it somehow gets hold of you and never leaves.

What would you say are the best and worst moments for the club during your time as a fan? 

There have been the super highs of a play-off final win against Leeds, and then getting close to the Championship play-offs in those amazing Sean O’Driscoll days to the lows of a worst ever Football League season and a horrible period in non-league. The story is well-documented and too painful to revisit, but ultimately I’m grateful there’s still a club to support here because we could easily be not having this conversation.

Could you tell us a fun fact/story about the club/the area?

Probably the most famous fact about Donny in recent years is that One Direction’s Louis Tomlinson grew up working in one of the kiosks at Belle Vue and is still a fan of the club. He was very nearly part of a takeover at one stage. I’ve met Louis at a game, he didn’t come across as someone who had entered a world of fame through music. He’s a real down to earth lad who loves his football, especially Donny. The amount of photos, autographs and attention he had in the space of a couple of hours was a real insight into the scrutiny that goes with the celebrity lifestyle. Another fact is that Steve Beaglehole, who was manager when I first watched the Rovers, now works at Leicester City and I often see him running around on the streets as I live in Leicester. Steve’s another good man with Donny still a result he looks for!

Doncaster are run by Chairman David Blunt, a man who started his role in 2014, following the club’s relegation from The Championship, after being a successful CEO at Keepmoat. What are your thoughts on him and his current plans? Is he steering the club towards a brighter future?

There have been a lot of opinions on the way the club has operated over the recent challenging period, for me I am grateful that the club has been relatively stable on and off the field since those Conference days. I don’t know enough detail or facts about the situation to be able to comment with any insight, but I know it must be hard to invest into a football club – you do it for the love, not the money – and we seem to have now learnt (painfully, admittedly) from appointing a few inexperienced managers and not bringing in players that suited their style, and are back on track. Had Terry Bramall not invested the way he did in the summer, who knows where we’d be now, for it’s been tough despite having a proven manager and funds available.

43-year-old Grant McCann, formerly of Peterborough and Hull, is gaffer. The Belfast-born Northern Irish international made over 500 appearances for various EFL clubs as a midfielder in his playing days and was appointed earlier this year for the second time. What are your thoughts on him and his playing style?

To put it simply, Grant McCann is just the right person to have in charge of the football club. McCann worked wonders in his previous season at the club, culminating in a play-off semi-final defeat on penalties at Charlton which was as glorious as it was gutting. It was arguably my favourite night of supporting Donny despite the fact we couldn’t quite get to Wembley. That McCann saw it as an overall failure shows the standards he sets. He plays the right way but understands the challenges of the bottom division and is flexible to adapt his gameplans & tactics. Nobody who has followed Rovers closely over the last few years was questioning a return of 2 points from 7 games earlier this term; we knew it was as a result of trying to steer a large, heavy ship into safer waters and not a reflection on his management style or skills. Any early struggles may have had us asking those existential type of questions about whether our Football League time might be at threat of being up again but none of it was on the manager.

How do you see him setting up his side for the clash on Friday night? (Tactics, formation and starting eleven).

McCann’s hands are tied currently with 14 players missing the win against Sutton, and another 3 key players in Ben Close, Tommy Rowe and Mo Faal all hobbling in the latter stages of that game. There are a few key players said to be close to returning, such as Richard Wood, Jack Senior, James Maxwell and Kyle Hurst, but the game may come too soon for them and besides, I don’t expect McCann to deviate too far from what we’ve seen in the last few games. If everyone from Saturday is fit, it’ll be a 3-5-2 that can flick to a back 4 with fluidity given the flexibility of players like Owen Bailey, Tom Nixon, Zain Westbrooke and Luke Molyneux, who have all caught the eye this term.

Doncaster struggled and ultimately finished 18th last season. This season, at the time of writing, their struggle continues as their placed 20th after twelve games. Why is the poor form carrying on? 

They say the league table doesn’t lie but it doesn’t always tell the whole truth. Yes, we look like a struggling side on paper, and we haven’t got as many points as we’d like, but we’re on the up. We’ve won 4 of the last 6, and were only edged out late at Stockport in that run too. Effectively we had a succession of inexperienced managers and a whole host of signings that generally didn’t work out, and poor performances and results are a hard habit to change, particularly at our level. McCann has had to battle with the weight of that recent history, great expectations upon his return, and an ever-increasing queue for the physio room. It was inevitable that time would be needed and thankfully there’s calm at Donny, not panic. Having said that, we are closer to the bottom 2 than we’d like and we have to continue to play with what I’d call a measured desperation to get points on the board, if that’s not a contradiction in terms. In essence we need to place a high price on every point and work our way towards 45 to 50 in the first instance.

The side’s top scorer is 29-year-old Joe Ironside, a summer signing from Cambridge United. Ironside has hit four whilst his teammate Ben Close has also been prolific in front of goal, netting three. How great have they both been and as Ironside was signed in the summer, how well do you think the club operated in the transfer window?

Joe Ironside has 7 goals in all competitions and is a real throwback centre forward, I’ve been so impressed with him. He is a focal point but knows where the net is with decent service too, and he’s a good mentor for Faal, who is a special talent. Close is critical to the way the team sets up with cultured central midfield play, and the goals have been a bonus to be honest. We had a very promising transfer window but any club at this level will struggle when the injury list is in excess of 10 players so it’s hard to judge exactly how good it was. My gut feeling is McCann will ultimately have us challenging at the right end of the table but we’re having to take our medicine for 2-and-a-half dire seasons. The good thing is that McCann and us as fans recognise that. It’s a step or two forward, then a step or two back kind of situation as we try to build some foundations. There’s a genuine connection between McCann and supporters, which is something our previous managers failed to develop for one reason or another.

The first meeting between Tranmere and Doncaster was contested in 1924 as Tranmere won 3-0. However, it is Doncaster that have won most of the encounters with a total of 38 from 78. Doncaster won the last meeting 2-0 in early Feb, Ben Close and Kyle Hurst scored in quick succession in the second half. What is your score prediction this time ’round?

The 3-0 defeat on Boxing Day stands out more than the 2-0 home win to be honest, I think that was the start of the end for Danny Schofield at the club because for all the will in the world – and he was a genuinely nice guy with a decent coaching pedigree – the style, tactics and gameplans just weren’t working at this level. That game encapsulated everything bad about it; a lack of intensity and aggression, gifting goals, not being commanding in either box and not landing on the second balls. It culminated in unsavoury scenes at the end and it couldn’t go on for long. In some senses it was surprising that it lasted until the end of the season. To the outside world this will be a 6-pointer between 2 struggling sides but it’s an intriguing looking game to me because it’s 2 clubs that, in my opinion, really shouldn’t find themselves in the bottom 6 of the Football League. McCann comes up against his mentor in Nigel Adkins, our away form hasn’t been good on paper but we’ve run Wrexham and Stockport close and were also unfortunate at MK Dons when they were flying. It doesn’t feel like we’re far away and did land an important win at Forest Green. I always expect Tranmere to be decent at home but that might be the age old cliche of Prenton Park seemingly being a difficult place to go to, especially under lights. If it was at the Eco Power Stadium I’d be confident of three points but given how we’re travelling and the injury list, I can see it being a tight game. It’s not a must win by any stretch but we could do with leaving Birkenhead with something. I’d have taken 4 points from Sutton and Tranmere so I’ll go for 1-1.

Finally, as we all know, it hasn’t been the start that Rovers fans were expecting. What are your thoughts on Tranmere? 

Looking in from afar, there seems to be lots of similarities between the 2 clubs. Last season I felt we both might be in the mix, but were both well off the pace and have now slipped further down the league, and are now close together at the wrong end of the table for now. I genuinely hope that there are better times ahead for Tranmere as I have family who live on the Wirral but naturally hope any improvement in form and position doesn’t come at our expense! I suspect Adkins is the right sort of character to lead the club forward if he takes it on full time but he cut a fairly downbeat and frustrated figure at the end of your last game at Crewe. It goes to show that life at the bottom of the Football League tests you to deep levels and there’s no easy way out – you need lots of hard work, battling qualities, hope for a change of luck generally, and have a decision or 2 to go in your favour. Either that or hope someone pumps some money in to get some established players like Gillingham did last season. If you asked me which of the 2 clubs is likely to climb the table significantly then I’d say us, but that’s only my opinion and no feeling is final.

Tranmere have won all of their League Two games this campaign at Prenton Park. On a personal note, I’ve been to all three and will again be there tomorrow night… Time for a fourth victory? It’d be nice… 

Leicester City U21s meeting the opposition.

On Tuesday night, Tranmere face Leicester City U21s in Papa John’s Trophy action. 

The game comes a few days after The Whites drew 2-2 at home against Grimsby Town, creative midfielder Connor Jennings and goalkeeper Luke McGee were fantastic that day.

Tranmere started their PJT campaign off with a 2-0 defeat away at Fleetwood Town in early September. 

Leicester also started with a defeat, a 7-1 thrashing on the road at Wigan Athletic. 

The Foxes’ U21’s have also been struggling in their respective league games recently. However, there are still a few bright sparks to watch out for such as forward Amani Richards.

Ahead of the game I spoke to life-long supporter and LJMU sports journalist Zoe McGrady. 

Hi Zoe, how long have you been following Leicester? What was your first game?

Hello! I’ve been following Leicester my whole life, my family are all huge supporters of the club so as soon as I was old enough to be at the games I was there. There’s no way I’m remembering my first game. I would have been so young, I wish I could!

What have been some of the best and worst moments during your time watching The Foxes?

This question just sums Leicester up because we really have been through the best and the worst of it! Obviously winning the league, you’re never ever gonna beat that. Also winning the FA Cup was such a special one. However, I can’t not mention the European away days we’ve had, especially last time round flying out to places like Randers and Rennes was just unbelievable. Worst moments obviously recently getting relegated last season, heartbreaking. Personally though the day of the helicopter crash at the club was definitely one of the darkest days at the club.

Could you tell us a little bit about the work that you have done around the club?

Yeah, so I actually used to work for the club as a Sports Turf Operative based on the King Power, so I was the one there every day maintaining the pitch. I got to watch all our games live still during Covid so that was a huge perk!

Rovers will be facing Leicester City U21s on Tuesday night in The Papa John’s Trophy after recently being defeated 2-0 by the first team in The Carabao Cup. Did you go to that game? What were your thoughts on it?

Yes I was at that game! I thought we played consistently throughout, and I was happy with the performance. If i’m honest I think Tranmere gave us more of a game than some Championship sides we’ve played recently, it wasn’t easy. Jamie Vardy got his goal which always means it’s a good game.

Leicester U21s are managed by 46-year-old Ben Petty who was a defender in his playing days for clubs such as Stoke and Hull. Petty plays a 3-4-3 formation and has been at the club since 2016. What are your thoughts on him?

Yeah so, he’s been at the club a while now, the Academy stands by him which I think is a positive. The U21s have struggled in recent times however so many factors when it comes to that squad are out of the managers control, I think it would be unfair to lay the blame on him! When I watch them play all the lads look like they are giving 110% effort and for Petty to get that out of these young lads I think he’s doing well.

The side were relegated from the PL2 this summer after losing 4-1 against Everton. They have won two of their opening six games this campaign. What do you think has been going wrong recently?

I often felt last season that the score line wasn’t an accurate representation of the game, the results just weren’t coming in. Last season was also a weird one. I do think the state of the men’s first team at the time had an effect on the whole club. There was no stability across the board, some of the Under 21s were being brought up to the first team and playing well and then we would never see them again. That can’t have had a positive effect on them. They’ve also had some injuries to key players. Sammy Braybrooke is out who I think will be crucial for them. I’m confident with these lads back and the confidence around the club right now they will turn the results around!

They started their PJT campaign off with a 7-1 defeat against Wigan in mid-September. How important do you believe it is for an academy side to test themselves against a professional outfit?

I think it’s incredibly important. These are players that ultimately want to break out of their academy side. There’s no better way to showcase your good enough for that than against a professional team.

Leicester U21s key players… Zach Booth and Silko Thomas have netted twice this season whilst Amani Richards has four assists. Who are you most excited about? Why?

Amani Richards is one to watch! But seriously those three you’ve mentioned and quite a few more I have high hopes for. They really do have a good squad. Of course, I’m excited to see the lads who are out injured getting back out there, I think they have high potential.

Leicester City Football Club has been owned by King Power since August 2010. How great have they been?

Before last season I would have had no negatives for you on this. The things that family have done for the club are incredible. They really did create a family unit around the club and looking at our trophy cabinet it paid off! We will always owe them for that. Vichai before he died would always be around the club on a match-day meeting everyone and handing out free shirts. Things like that I just don’t think you get in many other clubs. And of course, financially they have really backed us. Last season was a struggle, a lot of fans were turning against the owners. I’m not saying this was right or wrong, but we got relegated and the blame had to lie with someone. I’m confident they have backed us enough though to go straight back up.

How has First team manager Enzo Maresca, Pep Guardiola’s treble winning assistant, been with the academy and do you believe that due to the side being relegated it will be harder for him to give a look in to some?

I think the academy will be extremely happy with the way Enzo has come in. Kasey Mcateer, a former academy player, has been incredible under Enzo and in the starting line up before he got injured against Blackburn. Marcal as well has been getting in the squad, he actually scored the winner against Cardiff and I thought he was fantastic! It’s still all very new though and there is a huge focus on promotion. I think with time the academy will definitely feel the benefits of Enzo’s leadership.

Let’s finish off by hearing your score prediction for Tuesday night…

After I’ve kept saying they are gonna turn results around I hope tonight’s the night however Tranmere are a tough team so i’m going to go 2-2.

The Whites are at Prenton Park on Tuesday night, the ground that all of their competitive victories have come at this campaign. They will be looking to get revenge on Leicester City after being knocked out of The Carabao Cup here in August against the club’s first team. 

Grimsby Town FC meeting the opposition.

Tranmere Rovers host Grimsby Town on Saturday afternoon looking to continue their fine run of home form after wins against Accrington Stanley and Bradford City. 

It has certainly not been a great start to the season for The Rovers but a positive whilst looking ahead to this weekend’s tie is that all of their three league wins have came at home. 

The performance against Bradford will bring confidence as a resilient ninety minutes resulted in a late winning strike by substitute Kieron Morris after Josh Hawkes saw his penalty being saved.

Grimsby Town beat Barrow in midweek, to end a winless run of five, and will thus look to use their feel good factor in their aim of claiming all three points. 

Ahead of the game against Grimsby Town I spoke to lifelong Mariners supporter Aaron Rattray.


How long have you been a Grimsby supporter? What was your first game?

I have been supporting The Mariners since I was 2 or 3 years old, my parents are supporters so I guess it runs in the family!

What are your best and worst moments whilst supporting The Mariners?

Well aside from the two promotions, I would have to say the FA cup run last season where we made the quarter finals for the first time in 84 years and becoming the first team in history to beat clubs from a higher league in every round, Plymouth Argyle, Cambridge United,  Burton Albion, Luton Town and Southampton before finally bowing out in the quarter finals at Brighton. To be there at all those games and watch history being made was very special, something we won’t see again in our lifetime I’m sure.

Grimsby are managed by someone who has guided the club to two special promotions from The National League, in 2016 and 2022. 49-year-old Paul Hurst, who has a left back for Rotherham for 15 years in his playing career, was re-appointed by the club in 2020 when COVID struck. What are your thoughts on him? His tactics and the way he communicates with fans?

Paul Hurst is like Marmite, you either love him or you don’t! His tactics and style can often be seen as being dull and negative which can rub fans up the wrong way, and some fans would like to see a more attacking style of play and being more brave with team selections, substitutions and tactics. Personally, I don’t mind him but having said that, that doesn’t mean I think he should be immune from any criticism and we do need to start moving up the table.

How do you expect Hurst to set his side up on the weekend? (Tactics, formation, starting eleven)

Hurst is somewhat unpredictable at times with his team selections and formations, partly due to his love of playing players out of position so it can be hard to predict, but I expect the following  4-3-3 with Eastwood in goal and the back 4 consisting of Mullarkey Maher, Rodgers and Efete with a midfield of Conteh, Andrews and Holoan with Eisa, Rose and Wilson in the forward three. Please note this is not necessarily what I would do, more of what I think Hurst may do.

Grimsby ended a winless run of five with a 2-1 victory over Barrow on Tuesday night. What have you made to the team’s start to the season? Was it what was expected?

Tuesday night was poor, and we have played a lot better and lost this season! I don’t know how we escaped Tuesday night with a win but we did! There is absolutely no doubt we need to improve from that and Hurst even said so himself but hopefully it boosts confidence within the ranks.

The start of the season has been disappointing, we were all expecting better, there are concerns about game management, we have dropped 14 points from winning positions this season already! So they may be justifiable concerns! We don’t seem to be able to take our chances or create enough of chances in the first place, all too often we have the ball in a good position only to mess it up with a poor touch or poor final pass/cross, this has been noted by Hurst, and there does seem to be a reliance on Eisa and Rose to provide the attacking talent and if any of them aren’t playing for some reason or not playing well, then we seem to have little else, we need to try and stop this reliance on them and start creating quality chances as team! Donovan Wilson since coming back from injury has come off the bench in the last two games and scored twice so hopefully can do something! We need to start picking up the points and moving up the table soon, hopefully on Saturday we can get another win!

Summer signing Abo Eisa, from Bradford, has hit five goals in eleven games this season. How great has the 27-year-old Sudan born winger been? Who are the other key players? 

Always expect the unexpected with Eisa, he has that ability to score from range! He certainly doesn’t lack self confidence in himself, missed a penalty on Tuesday night so hopefully he can make up for that on Saturday! Other key players include Danny Rose who provides a focal point up front and occupies defenders well so fingers crossed he can ruffle a few feathers, Donovan Wilson has come off the bench last few games for his first action of the season following injury and scored! I would start him based on “fitness provided” and see what he can do from the start!

Grimsby are owned by lifelong supporter Jason Stockwood, a (provide link to interview we did), businessman who had previously held various roles in the travel and dating industries. How great has he been for the club? What has he brought and what are the current exciting plans? 

There is no doubting Jason is a fan and he wants what is best for the club and will always strive for that, there are a few minor concerns from some however that some interviews he does he seems to contradict himself on what he previously said. Just one example, he said in an interview last season and I quote “Every single penny gained from this cup run will be used to strengthen the squad” and then just a few short weeks later in another interview he said that a good portion of it will be used for some ground repairs! Nobody is doubting Blundell Park due to his age requires ongoing remedial work to keep it compliant with health and safety regulations but maybe to say every penny of the cup run will go on the first team squad wasn’t the right thing to say! Having said that he is a marked improvement on John Fenty and I do believe we are in safe hands currently and we should progress given time, which we never did under Fenty.

The last meeting between the two sides saw Tranmere win 2-0 in late April, Josh Hawkes and Rhys Hughes the goalscorers. What’s your score prediction for the tie this time ‘round and what are your thoughts on The Rovers?

Well you must all be disappointed with the start Tranmere have had, however a good win on Tuesday night which saw Bradford City dispense of Mark Hughes should have boosted confidence amongst your ranks so it could be a close game which could go either way, but hopefully it goes our way, I’ll be bold and I’ll predict 2-1 to the Mariners! (Probably jinxed it now).

Let’s finish off with some talk about a forward who used to grace the turf of Prenton Park in Otis Khan, how’s he been doing? 

I like Otis, he can be inconsistent like most wingers at this level are and he can be prone to knocks and niggles but on his day he has proved he can be a goal threat, he is now a Pakistan international also.

All of Tranmere’s three league wins this season have come at Prenton Park. This Saturday, is it time for a fourth?

Bradford City FC meeting the opposition.

A struggling Tranmere Rovers side face a struggling Bradford City side on Tuesday night, at Prenton Park, in League Two action. 

On Saturday, The Whites travelled to AFC Wimbledon and were beaten 4-1. Defender Jordan Turnbull got sent off for a late tackle whereas Tom Davies somehow found himself get into the league’s team of the week… a selection that many fans had a laugh at.

A win is thus important for Nigel Adkins’ men who, before the ninety minutes start, are placed inside the relegation zone. 

Mark Hughes’ Bradford have also been struggling, coming into the tie on the back of a 3-1 defeat at home to Walsall and placed 14th.

To find out more about The Bantams and their various issues, I spoke to supporter Adam Sopf. 

How long have you been a Bradford City fan? 

I’ve been going week in week out with my dad since around 2014. It’s been downhill ever since really. 

What was that first experience? 

My first home game was a 2-1 win against Leeds United. It’ll take something special to beat that day. 

Best and worst moments during your time supporting The Bantams? 

The best moment was probably the FA Cup run in the 2014/15 season where we beat Chelsea and Sunderland on the way to the quarter-finals where we eventually got knocked out in a replay at Reading. The 2016/17 season under Stuart McCall is another highlight as we played exciting attacking football which is virtually unheard of at City these days. However, it didn’t end well as we lost to Millwall in the League One play-off final, 1-0. 

The worst moment, for me, was the disconnect between the club and the fans after the sacking of Derek Adams. Harrogate beat us at home straight after whilst Mark Trueman was caretaker and it just felt like there was no hope for us whatsoever. Sadly, it seems to be going that way again this season. 

Greatly experienced manager Mark Hughes was appointed in 2022. His win percentage at the club stands at 38%. How would you describe his playing style and relationship with supporters? 

He aims to dominate possession in every game but unfortunately, it’s far too slow and we don’t have the players capable of playing that sort of way. We accepted it last season because we saw us win a few games, but supporters are starting to get frustrated now with the way we’re playing. We’ve gone back to playing a 4-2-3-1 after starting the season off playing a 5-3-2 which just proved how tactically inept Mark Hughes is as a manager. Sadly, our poor start to the season has tarnished Hughes’s relationship with the fans after reaching the playoffs last season. We were hoping we’d kick on as a club and push for automatics, but we’ve just gone backwards. Fans have been voicing their frustration with boo’s ringing out after every half-time and full-time whistle. 

How will he set up his side for Tuesday’s tie? (Tactics, starting eleven and formation) He’s likely to stick with his 4-2-3-1 with Harry Lewis in goal, Brad Halliday, Matty Platt, Sam Stubbs and Liam Ridehalgh at the back. Midfield is a tough one to pick with Alex Pattison back available. Personally, I wouldn’t mind seeing a midfield diamond with McDonald sitting deep, with Gilliead and Pattison ahead of him, Walker in the 10 with Smith and Andy Cook up top. The diamond was used sometimes last season and worked from time to time. 

Former Rovers man Andy Cook is Bradford’s top scorer with four goals in nine games whilst also assisting one. How would you describe his importance to the team and who are the other ones to watch? 

Andy Cook is our most important player by far. He proved that himself with the hat trick against Newport after a month out injured. Without him, the team looked lost and toothless. Yet again, we’re relying on him to score all our goals. 

Not many have stood out so far this season but I’m sure I’m speaking for every Bradford City fan when I say how impressed I’ve been with academy graduate, Bobby Pointon. He’s only started a couple of games for us so far but he seems to be a step ahead of everyone else with his quick decision-making. Pointon started his first home game live on Sky against Grimsby Town and after a shocking first half all round, he stepped up and took the second half by the scruff of its neck. I haven’t seen many players do that for us. I’ve also been impressed with Pattison, Tulloch, Stubbs and Halliday this season. 

Touching on a former Rovers man, how has full-back Liam Ridehalgh been doing? 

God knows how he got a contract extension in the summer. He’s far too slow for this level and he’s constantly getting beat down his side. To be fair to him, he put in a decent cross. 

Bradford have been owned by German investor Stefan Rupp since 2016. Whilst there are talks of him looking for a successor, what are your thoughts on the way that he has ran the club? 

It came out in the summer that he’s never invested a penny into the football club during his time here. He initially bought the club with business partner, Edin Rahic who overlooked the football side of things but after he let his ego intervene too much leading to our relegation, Rupp took over the rest of the club. He doesn’t seem interested in the club in the slightest, I don’t think he even likes football! For me, if he stays then we’re never going to get out of this division. A lot of fans keep saying that it could be a lot worse. I agree, it could be, but it could also be a lot better. 

The last time Bradford and Tranmere faced each other was in mid-February, the game finished 2-0 to the hosts at Valley Parade. The Bantams won both league games against The Whites last season. Now, what are your thoughts on Nigel Adkins’ side and what’s your score prediction for the upcoming outing? 

Adkins seems like a decent bloke, and he’ll know the club well. I hope he can get you winning a few games and fire you up the table. I’m going for a 1-1. 

How well do you believe Bradford have started the season? 

Poorly. We had high expectations after last season but recruitment was poor in the summer even though everyone from the club kept saying ‘Our aim is to go one better this year and get in those automatic spots’. Now the tunes suddenly changed. 

How well do you believe the club operated in the Summer bringing in players such as former Rovers centre back Ash Taylor on a free from Kilmarnock? 

We kept Andy Cook and Harry Lewis, our two best players last season which is always a positive. However, the incomings (apart from Pattison) have been underwhelming. We’ve also struggled to replace loan players Scott Banks and Romoney Crichlow who were vital at times last season. 

As we’re still in the early stages of 2023-24, what are you most excited about? 

Sounds very dull but our start has kind of killed any excitement we had for the season, unfortunately. 

What are your ambitions? 

Our aim is always to be promoted. Would be a miracle if we went up this season due to how strong the league is this season.

Tranmere are back at Prenton Park this Tuesday night against a struggling Bradford City side. The Whites have won two games this league season, both coming at home!