Tranmere Rovers v Southend United – Match Preview

English Football League Two

@PrentonPark

Saturday 24th October 2020

Unfortunately, I have been unable to comment on Tranmere’s past two league games as of yet. Mike Jackson’s men faced Newport County in South Wales, in midweek they also faced Leyton Orient which was a game under the Prenton Park lights on the newly instated pristine pitch. The performances, however, were not pristine. Both performances lacked the quality that we believe the team, on paper, should provide. There was little fight, little effort and there was absolutely no result of pride. Throughout the two games, the midfield and frontmen failed to create. In fact, there has only been one shot on target from Jackson’s ‘Whites’ in the past 180 minutes of league encounter football. Aswell as that, the defenders also struggled. The midfield lacked any pace and strength to close attacks down, due to this the defence was pressurised and they were unable to answer the questions of the goals that Newport and Orient put into the back of goalkeeper Joe Murphy’s net. It has been a worrying week, Tranmere didn’t get off to the best of starts even though positives were taken from the away game at Salford City two weeks ago where Tranmere came back from 2-0 to level in the dying moments after a penalty box scramble. The positives and fight in those remaining minutes are yet to be built on, it is certainly something that must be shown this weekend in order for Mike Jackson’s side to get their second league win of the season. 

This Saturday Tranmere come up against Mark Molesley’s Southend United. The ‘shrimpers’ sit at the very bottom of the football league pyramid, thus Tranmere are favourites and this encounter is one in which the ‘Whites’ must strive and display their quality. This game should be seen as winnable and Rovers manager Mike Jackson must set out to expose the leaking Southend defence. Although it has been a horrid week, where performances and results are concerned, there has been more time for players to improve their fitness and it has given players who had to isolate more time to recover from their virus exposure and return back to full match fitness. Following the final two league encounters, the Rovers manager has stated that ‘a lack of fitness’ has contributed heavily to the poor displays. Thus, he is saying that he believes his side are capable of winning once their fitness improves .. the team’s fitness will have hopefully improved from midweek. In my opinion, Jackson definitely does need to look at his capabilities and qualities as a manager and plan to improve his tactics and training sessions if need be. The tactics are clearly not working as after seven games a side with such great attacking qualities have only managed to score four goals meaning that there have been five league games without scoring. This is a clear problem and with players with the quality of James Vaughan, Kaiyne Woolery etc all available for selection Tranmere should be capable of scoring. Manager Mike Jackson, in a recent meeting with the local press, stated ‘we are only two or three light now which is the best that we have been in that position’. However, there are still players that remain unavailable due to injuries etc. Stefan Payne is unavailable as he has recently undergone a successful groin injury operation, Corey Blackett-Taylor remains unavailable due to a heart complication which isn’t too serious and centre-half Manny Monthe may still be unavailable due to a ‘grumbling knee’ which was revealed following the home defeat to Leyton Orient. Aswell as this, striker Morgan Ferrier is still recovering from a hamstring injury. I believe, if we set out to attack and we play with pride, we will be able to beat Molesley’s ‘shrimpers’.

‘In the other corner’, Southend United travel to Merseyside this weekend in search of their first league win of the season. At time of writing, they sit 24th in the league two table. However, they could fire themselves up to 21st which is outside of the relegation zone if they manage to beat their hosts. Thus, a positive result for the ‘Shrimpers’ could see them getting their campaign back on track. Southend have a massive problem, an extremely leaky defence. They have conceded two or more goals in six of their seven league encounters so far. They aren’t too successful up front either, scoring four in seven. Each goal came from a different player, thus their source of goals can be seen in different positions. Emile Acquah, Brandon Goodship, Nathan Ralph and full-back Jason Demetriou have all netted one so far. Last season, Southend saw themselves relegated to the fourth division alongside Tranmere Rovers and Bolton Wanderers. This season, they aim to get back on track and the team’s role is to help their club maintain their football league status. The club hit their most recent peak in 2006, being announced league one winners but they didn’t manage more than a season without being relegated in the Championship. The club has also seen success in the Football League Trophy, reaching the final on three occasions in the 21st century. This pre-season there was a clear out at Roots Hall, many were released and the club managed to get some money through undisclosed transfer fees. Those released were: Henry Burnett, Luke Hyam, Sam Mantom, Mark Milligan, Theo Robinson, Joe Shaughnessy and Sam Barratt. The club received money from: Stephen Humphrys transfer to Rochdale, Isaac Hutchinson’s transfer to Derby County and Charlie Kelman’s transfer to QPR. Those that moved to Southend-On-Sea on a permanent basis were: centre-half Shaun Hobson, defensive midfielder Alan McCormack, winger Ashley Nathaniel-George and experienced striker Simeon Akinola. Centre midfielders Kyle Taylor and James Olayinka, winger Jordan Green and striker Kazaiah Sterling all joined on a temporary basis. Thus, although Southend have had a poor start to the 2020/2021 campaign they have a good core of players who will certainly be capable of hurting an underperforming Tranmere side. It’s set to be a good, closely affected affair at Prenton Park.  

Tranmere have faced Southend United on 52 occasions, the last being a draw at Southend’s Roots Hall in early January of this year. Both sides struggled to gain any sort of relegation survival momentum, Tranmere’s successful momentum started over a month later.

Tranmere wins – 21

Draws – 16

Southend wins – 15 

Thoughts of Tranmere manager Mike Jackson, before this weekend’s league encounter:

On team news, how previous injuries and the exposure to the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the training schedule of his side:

We have welcomed back some players into the squad, and we are only two or three light now and that is the first time we have been in that position. That has given everyone a huge boost and now the job is to get the players who have been out up to speed. We have been so light in numbers, in recent weeks we have only had ten players and one goalkeeper so we have been protecting that group so they do not get injured for the game. We have had a number of injuries and players missing through Covid-19, so it has affected training.We have not been able to do 11 vs 11 on the training pitch, and we have not been able to even train with the U18s as we can’t mix groups but it is what it is. Apart from that, we have got everyone back in the building which is brilliant because we have not had that continuity and consistency of training and getting the same team to play together.”

On a hopefully successful future:

“This is a new team, a new group of players, and there were signs before what has happened, that we were starting to gel with our performances against Cambridge and Scunthorpe. This group is ready to go, we are calm with what we are doing and the focus is where it needs to be.”

My predictions:

Team; Murphy,O’Connor,Clarke,Ellis,Ridehalgh,Spearing,Banks,Morris,Khan,Woolery,Vaughan

Result; 

Tranmere Rovers 2 Southend United 1

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