When the FA Cup First Round draw was made, Tranmere fans almost universally grimaced. A dull trip to Peterborough United, where we have a torrid record, was just not what we wanted.
Since the draw, Tranmere’s league form has continued to be erratic, with Saturday’s win over Halfiax following a draw and a defeat at Hartlepool and Aldershot respectively. However, the weekend victory over Halfiax did give some hope that Micky Mellon’s team are finally finding their attacking prowess once again.
Either way, Saturday provides an opportunity for Tranmere to progress to the second round of the famous old competition for the first time since 2014, when they dispatched Bristol Rovers in round one and Oxford in round two before being smashed by Swansea in round three.
The winners of Saturday’s game will also win £18,000 in prize money, a figure probably once scoffed at by TRFC fans, but you cannot help but feel funds like that could be incredibly useful when it comes to squad building.
So, here are four reasons why Tranmere CAN get at least a replay at London Road, if not an outright win.
Peterborough aren’t great at home
London Road is a grim place to go, especially so if you support Tranmere. Our record there is not great to say the least. However, Posh are struggling there themselves this season, with Saturday’s win over Shrewsbury only their third home win of the season from seven games.
Peterborough have also shipped 11 goals at home in those seven games, including four against Bradford and three against Oxford. While Tranmere have struggled to score goals this season, there are signs that things are improving.
The pressure is off, finally
Since Tranmere dropped out of League One in 2014, they have pretty much been under pressure to win every game since. The horrendous campaign in League Two that saw us drop straight through the division in to the abyss National League, did actually start with us fancied as a play-off challenger. We wer expected to do okay, and once we got in to the National League we have been the ‘big game’ for just about every club since.
This has piled pressure on the players, not least from the home fans. However, nobody will be expecting them to come back with anything from Peterborough on Saturday, and this could be massive for the players. The current team love to get the ball down and play, so if the pressure if off and they can go there and keep it tight for the first half hour, I fancy them to really grow in to the game and cause Posh some problems.
An experienced squad
Peterborough’s squad has a decent amount of quality in it. Midfielder Marcus Maddison is perhaps the brightest talent among the current crop, while former National League forwards Idris Kanu (Aldershot) and Ricky Miller (Dover) have tonnes of potential.
However, Tranmere have a squad awash with Football League experience, with the likes of Scott Davies, Steve McNulty, Liam Ridehalgh and Jeff Hughes all having hundreds of League appearances between them. Unlike some of the younger, cheaper, squads Tranmere had during their later years in League One, many of the current players will not be in the slightest bit fazed by a trip to Peterborough.
Romance of the FA Cup
For all the big cup upsets Tranmere inflicted themselves during the noughties, the last ten years have been somewhat barren. While a trip to Peterborough and progression in to the next round would not go down as a famous or memorable cup win, it would be a scalp of sorts given the relative positions of the two clubs. Tranmere are surely due some luck on all fronts, and a little FA Cup run simply has to be around the corner again soon enough. A hunch, more than a reason. But we’re sticking to it.