Tranmere Rovers and Wycombe Wanderers are getting well acquainted with each other as they prepare to battle it out in part II of the triple-header at Prenton Park.
Sunday will be the second of three meetings in 11 days between the two clubs, after they were paired in the FA Cup and drew the original tie forcing a replay.
It’s strange how these things work out, and amazing how often it happens that a cup tie between two clubs happens just before or just after a league meeting. Manchester City and Southampton had a similar experience in the EFL Cup and Premier League, just three days apart, earlier this season as a further example.
The two clubs will be fed up of each other come Wednesday night, but hopefully Rovers will come out on top and pick up some vital league points as well as progressing to a televised FA Cup second round tie with Chichester City on Sunday 1 December.
Wanderers are flying high in League One this season, with only goal difference currently separating them from top-of-the-table Ipswich Town (writing ahead of Saturday’s fixtures).
However, the first game last weekend showed that Micky Mellon’s side can compete with their counterparts managed by Gareth Ainsworth.
There was very little between the two sides, both had spells when they were on top, so expect it to be another tight affair in front of the Sky Sports cameras on Sunday.
Tranmere are starting to get one or two players back after long-term injury layoffs and this could provide a big boost to the squad ahead of an important period.
Morgan Ferrier was the main signing of the summer for Micky Mellon, but unfortunately we haven’t seen much of him in a Tranmere shirt due to a knee injury.
His return to full fitness enhances the options available in the attacking areas, and with both Stefan Payne and Rushian Hepburn-Murphy in the goals too, competition for places should be strong.
In the last couple of league matches, Rovers have operated with a three at the back system. Liam Ridehalgh has moved inside to form part of the three, and although Kane Wilson has been playing in an unfamiliar left wing-back role, the system has worked well and allows both he and Jake Caprice on the other wing to get forward which they both do to good effect.
The three central defenders of Ridehalgh alongside Manny Monthe and Sid Nelson, have looked fairly solid, making Tranmere a bit more difficult to break down, and so we could see this continue for the foreseeable future.
Score more and concede less appears to be the message coming from the manager in his pre-match press conference, while he also spoke about being more aggressive from attacking set plays which is definitely an area Rovers can improve on.
It’s going to be an interesting and important few days. A win in the league is important to move clear from the dreaded drop zone, while progress in the FA Cup brings about prize money as well as an additional payday for a televised tie.
We’ll know every little thing there is to know about Gareth Ainsworth’s side by the end of this trilogy, and hopefully the squad can use that knowledge to get the better of the Chairboys in these next two matches.