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?