League Two strugglers Notts County visit Prenton Park on Saturday afternoon, with Micky Mellon’s side looking for points to nudge ever closer to the play-off zone.
County were tipped as one of the favourites for the title at the beginning of the season having been in the play-offs last term, but things have not gone well for the Magpies.
There has been instability in the dugout with County now on their third manager so far this season in Neal Ardley. He took over from Harry Kewell who in turn replaced Kevin Nolan in the early stages of 2018-19 after a dreadful start to the campaign.
Ardley has a mass of experience at these levels from his time in charge of AFC Wimbledon. But he has not had the impact which I’m sure the Magpies owners were looking for when they appointed him.
The Nottingham side are still stuck to the bottom of the League Two standings with relegation into the National League staring them firmly in the face, with Ardley’s record reading just three wins, five draws and eight defeats from his 16 matches in the hotseat.
Worringly for Rovers, one of those victories came at the expense of Micky Mellon’s side back in December, although a number of changes were enforced on the Tranmere boss and an FA Cup replay with Southport was to take place just two days later.
That was Ardley’s first win at the helm at Meadow Lane, and he had to wait until just two weeks ago for his next. But, like buses, they came two at a time, as the Magpies picked up back-to-back impressive wins over Forest Green Rovers and Mansfield Town, two sides pushing for promotion.
So, they have recently showed what they can be capable of, although last time out, they fell to a 4-1 home defeat at the hands of FA Cup giantkillers Newport County on Tuesday evening.
That’s the visitors looked at, what about Rovers?
Micky Mellon’s team, bolstered by some impressive January transfer window signings to strengthen the squad, has responded really well after a run of three defeats in a row.
A draw on the road at Cambridge United last weekend was in between two victories over Stevenage and Port Vale, and it has put Tranmere within striking distance of the play-offs.
James Norwood notched another brace on Tuesday at Vale Park. He’s still looking for his first hat-trick in a Tranmere shirt despite the number of goals he has managed to score since joining the club in 2015.
As ever, he’ll be the man the opposition defence will be worried about, but Connor Jennings has been in good form of late in the ‘number 10’ role behind Norwood and the pair has a great understanding and link up incredibly well which will cause the County defence problems.
Liam Ridehalgh remains a doubt after missing the last two games through illness, Sid Nelson is back training after a second broken nose but, again, is doubtful to be involved, while Steve McNulty appears to have picked up a calf injury after returning to training after Achilles problems.
It should be a good game, so if you haven’t already, make sure you get yourself a ticket to be at Prenton Park on Saturday afternoon to cheer the lads on to what would be another vital three points. Buy tickets online at www.trfctickets.co.uk.