Tranmere Rovers travel to Grimsby Town on Saturday afternoon, looking to get back to winning ways. 

It has been a frustrating period of time for Nigel Adkins’ side recently as a good run of winning form has been followed up by defeats to both Barrow and MK.

The tie at home to MK saw Rovers sit back and let the visitors attack, this looked to have worked and a point would have been a justifiable result. However, a late strike for Mike Williamson’s side saw ‘The Dons’ return back to Buckhamingshire with all three points. 

Adkins has been quiet on the recruitment front, it seems like Rovers fans will just have to sit out the rest of the campaign as the side edges away from relegation danger.

However, with Forest Green announcing the appointment of Steve Cotterill as manager and other top bosses at the bottom end of the division, there could be a little bit more battling to be done. 

Grimsby drew their most recent outing 5-5, at Blundell Park against Notts County, they too will be looking to get back to winning ways. 

Mariners supporter Aaron Rattray spoke to me ahead of the game.

Hi Aaron, when did you start supporting Grimsby Town? What was your first experience of the club like?

Interesting question! I have been following the club for more years than I remember! Once you’re into it, you can’t get out of it and you keep on going regardless of how bad it can get!

What are your best and worst moments in your time following The Mariners? 

The worst moments have to be the relegations into non league. The best moments, apart from the promotions, has to be that history making, record breaking FA cup run last season which saw us reach the Quarter Finals and become the first club in history to beat clubs all from higher leagues in every round. Southampton away was special, but Brighton away in the Quarter Finals, despite the result, the weekend will always live long in the memory!

Grimsby play their home games at Blundell Park, they have been doing so since 1899. What are your thoughts on the 9,002 capacity venue? What is it like for away fans?

Blundell Park will never win any awards and its best days are well behind it but it’s an old fashioned football ground, whilst other stadiums are more modern and have much better facilities, at the end of the day, home is where the heart is.

Last season, Grimsby finished 11th in League Two. They are currently positioned 19th. What would you say have been the main issues this season?

I think mistakes were made in the recruitment in the summer, the defence in particular is very leaky, one of the worst in the league which is a major, major concern and one of many issues which needs to be addressed and resolved for us to progress.

43-year-old David Artell took over as manager, at the end of last year, following on from his five year spell as boss of Crewe Alexandra. He had guided The Alex to promotion from League Two in 2020. What are your thoughts on him and his playing style? 

Artell’s style of play is very attack minded, totally different to former manager Paul Hurst’s. Artell sets his team up to play football, to pass the ball around, and look to entertain.  I am hopeful that as time goes on and he can start assembling his own squad, we will have a good team!,Two%20games%20left%20them%2021st.

Artell would have been appointed by Chairman Jason Stockwood. You have spoken positively about the Grimsby-born businessman in the past. What are your current thoughts on him and what he’s trying to change around the club? 

I still think Jason Stockwood is a good man and no doubt he genuinely wants to improve the squad, but some of his interviews raise more questions than they answer and lately he has come across as quite aggressive and confrontational, maybe that is due to stress. Regardless, he is a million times better than John Fenty!

How do you believe Artell will set his side up?

Most probably in a 4/3/3 formation: Cartwright, Mullarkey, Rodgers, Tharme, Glennon, Wood, Holohan, Clifton, Eisa, Rose, Vernam.

Grimsby’s top scorer is Danny Rose. He has netted twelve goals in 28 games whilst also providing his teammates with three assists. How special is he? Would you mind giving us, and the Tranmere defence, a quick scouting report?

Rose is a very good footballer and almost the complete forward, he holds the ball up well, he’s good in the air, he makes life tough for the central defenders and he chips in with goals clearly! There’s a reason why he’s been a key player for teams who have ended up getting promoted from this level.

In Grimsby’s last game, they drew 5-5 with Notts County. This weekend will bring the club’s third home game of the new year, Artell’s side are yet to play away from home. How interesting was the 5-5 tie to watch? Does it speak volumes of the side that they fought until the end?

What a ding dong game that was, certainly one for the neutral! Partly helped by some truly horrific defending from both teams! But of course I would have taken a point before the game, and it was good to see us come back to snatch a point at the last minute. We often come back from the dead over the last few seasons but it’s something we’ve not seen enough of this season.

Tranmere and Grimsby last met in early October as a two-all draw was played out at Prenton Park. Can you remember that one?

I do remember that one! I never went to that game but I listened to it on the radio! I remember it sounding like an even game, both teams could have won, and no surprise we bottled a lead, we have done that countless times this season!

Two ex Tranmere players have departed Grimsby Town this week, could you talk to us about them both?

As you saw Otis Khan and Luke Waterfall two ex Tranmere left the club the last couple of days and I think I agree on both and feel it is right for players and club, Otis is no doubt a very talented player and he has shown what he can do on occasions for us but nowhere near enough! He seems to be the average League 2 winger, on his day quality but consistently inconsistent and I feel we need to strive for better, as with Waterfall, top bloke who came from being told he could leave the club to being instrumental in our promotion season! But sadly in League 2 it was clear that his age had caught up with him and as such again we need better, Luke especially departs with our best wishes and our immense thanks.

What are your thoughts on Tranmere? Nigel Adkins’ side will be looking to get back to winning ways after recent defeats to Barrow and MK.

Where do I start?! ???? Certainly form has picked up recently, around Christmas time, which boosts everybody’s confidence but I hope the form takes a dramatic turn for the worse starting from Saturday!

What is your score prediction for Saturday? 

I never get these right, I’ll say 1-1, but no doubt I’m wrong!

Grimsby’s Blundell Park. 

The last time Tranmere travelled here was in early December 2022. Striker Jake Burton scored for the visitors as Micky Mellon’s men were beaten 2-1. 

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