Rovers v Eastleigh

Boz

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First home game since the Macclesfield debacle and an early start for television. The visitors arrive on a poor spell of form, not won for nearly 2 months and are in mid-table obscurity. I expect that they'll be coming with a similar mindset to Ebbsfleet, trying to keep a lid on things and minimise our chances.

MM didn't say much in the pre-match interview, all the first teamers save Kirby are available. His post-match remarks after Boreham Wood suggested that he was unhappy about the mentality of some, was critical about our defending, so it will be interesting to see how things are changed for this game, which we need to win. Norburn is available after suspension, but unsure his pre-ban form merits an instant recall. Things seemed to improve when Tollitt came on, so would like to see him start, even on the understanding he might get taken off around the hour mark. As for the rest, anybody's guess.

Prediction: The early start and lack of travelling support mean that the crowd may be lower than normal, though maybe bolstered by the lack of Prem action and over a month since our last home game, maybe around 4.5k. Think, Rovers can scrape a victory, but it may not be wholly convincing.
 
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The midfield definitely needs pepping up after the poor showing last week, but I agree with Boz that Norburn does not really deserve a recall. However, the lack of height and creativity was a major issue last week, so I would guess Ollie will start. I think Tollitt should also start, in place of Ginnelly who was very poor last week and rightly got the hook just after half time. At the back, Sutton should come in for Monthe and Clarke should replace Ridehalgh, but I don't think either of those changes will happen.

With Macclesfield not playing and, perhaps more importantly, Aldershot meeting Boreham Wood, we have the chance to gain ground on some of our rivals and victory would probably take us up to third place. Despite the couple of recent disappointments against top sides, our form against the also rans has been very good and I expect this will be a comfortable victory.

Pre-sales seem as strong as ever, so I would expect another 5,000 plus gate.
 

Ian

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We have two very big problems here.

1. We are on TV
2. The visitors have not won for nearly 2 months

We have no chance.

However.. I'd agree with RLC in recalling Clarke and Sutton. We really need a victory here after the poor show last week and I really think we need a good run going now till the end of the season to keep us up there fighting for 2nd place.

Let's remain positive and say 3-1 to the whites with a few Cookie specials.
 

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I think a centre midfield pairing of Traore and Harris is too similar. Probably can’t rely on Wallace yet and Hughes isn’t good enough IMO so although he had a difficult spell I’d go for Norburn alongisde Traore.

Ollie does have a goal in him and should score more if we can get him further up the field.
 
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We've got to go for the three points in all matches from now on, with the possible exception of Dover and Aldershot which we must not lose. Right now, I'd settle for third, but fear we'll just about make the playoffs.
 

Boz

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I think a centre midfield pairing of Traore and Harris is too similar. Probably can’t rely on Wallace yet and Hughes isn’t good enough IMO so although he had a difficult spell I’d go for Norburn alongisde Traore.

Ollie does have a goal in him and should score more if we can get him further up the field.
I would stick with Harris rather than Traore, who seemed to have a poor game last weekend and hadn’t been playing for a while. Think Norburn’s height may be a reason for restoring him to the starting xi. I’m not totally convinced about his creativity, for me he’s reluctant to carry the ball, wants rid too quickly and resorts to aimless shots at the edge of an opponents box. There’s a reasonable player inside there, but MM hasn’t been able to bring him on the way he did Stockton and Ihiekwe.
 
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I disagree about Norburn. I think he is a decent player, with a good range of passing and above average technical ability for this level. He is a passer, not a dribbler. However, he has suffered since his partnership with Banks was broken up and has gone off the boil in the last couple of months.

I think Sparky's comments about Hughes are also harsh. He has been a very good, steady player for us, albeit not creative enough to play with another defensive midfielder like Harris.

I agree that Harris should start ahead of Traore, who did not look match fit last week.
 
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Sutton, Hughes and tollitt in, traore and monthe out, Harris apparently injured. Good decisions after last week's display.
 

Boz

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Ginnelly not on the bench, injured? Clarke still frozen out. If Tollitt can last the full ninety untroubled, then fine, but there doesn’t seem to be much pace on the bench. Think Monthe can feel a little hard done to, but McNulty will hopefully have more confidence in Sutton and not drift out of position so much.
 

Ian

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Importantly we are winning but it’s been difficult to watch. Hopefully better second half to come.
 

Boz

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1-0 h/t, scramble from a corner turned in by Sutton, but a couple of minutes before, two excellent saves from Davies to keep his goal intact. We’ve had a couple of decent efforts since, the best a Norwood header, but the visitors seeing a lot of the ball and we’re conceding a lot of possession in midfield.
 
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Not a classic display by any means, but we got the job done. I thought we played some decent stuff at times today, without really getting out of second gear. However, there were periods of the game - after the first goal, and in the last twenty minutes - where we sat far too deep and almost invited Eastleigh back into the match. In true Tranmere fashion. it seemed like we would throw two points away, before Cooky's moment of magic, as good an opportunist strike as you will ever see.

I thought some of the returning players had decent games. Norburn was sharper than before his suspension and Tollitt was improved on the Macclesfield display, albeit still rusty. However, I thought we badly missed Harris's tackling in midfield and Eastleigh had too much easy possession in the middle of the pitch. Hughes and Norburn don't seem a perfect midfield combination.

On the positive, both centre halves and Davies played well, and Mangan made a telling contribution in the build up to the second goal. Ridehalgh was also more solid than at Boreham Wood, albeit it was his poor clearance that resulted in Eastleigh pulling a goal back.

There were no clear man of the match candidates in my view, but Cook and Davies were vital in saving us at key moments of the game.

On to Dover.
 

Ian

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Hardly a classic but we won and Cookies fantastic goal at the end was worth the entrance fee but it was very laboured. Game was lacking pace, midfield had gone missing and there were lots of long balls. On we go..
 

Ian

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Tollitt needs to get his confidence back after a long time out. Hopefully that will hit at just the right time, but his fitness is improving. Nice to see Sutton back in the mix. I thought Ridehalgh was pretty terrible all game. Defensively a bit of a mess.
 

Boz

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Just about deserved the win, but it wasn’t a wholly convincing performance and a better side than Eastleigh would have taken more advantage of amount of possession we conceded in the middle of the park.
 
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Predictable wins for Sutton and Wrexham, but victory for Aldershot over Boreham Wood means we stay in third place - just. Getting ridiculously tight.
 

drwhoman

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I am pleased we won and it is very tight. If we are to keep winning, whic is essential, what is concerning is the issues in midfield that attendees have highlighted, not just in this game but the last few, while Ridehalgh also seems to be a questionmark. Clarke has disappeared when people were seemingly wanting to spend money on him. Has he committed some indiscretion I wonder? Good to see that Sutton was restored and scored!
 
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