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Tranmere v Grimsby Preview
By: Sam Kinnaird
GRIMSBY look to bounce straight back from their opening day defeat to Cheltenham with another tricky away tie in the First Round of the Carling Cup at Tranmere. They did however manage to beat the Birkenhead club at the same stage of the competition last season.
Living in the shadow of European giants Liverpool and Everton can't be easy, but Tranmere have a history which stands up to most outside of the Premier League. Although recent years have failed to bear trophies or promotions, the club retains a decent fanbase and a burning ambition to return to the Championship. Tranmere reached the final of the League Cup in 2000 mainly down to the long throws of Town’s terrace nemesis Dave Challinor. Although they were beaten 2-1 in the final by Leicester, their run to the final was an amazing achievement which included an incredible 3-0 win at Everton and a remarkable comeback from 3-0 down to beat Southampton 4-3. Despite the Cup run Tranmere were relegated to League One, and the season that followed under Dave Watson was one of great disappointment. A side that included Ryan Taylor, Jason Koumas, Clint Hill and Simon Haworth finished in a lowly mid-table position and Watson was soon relieved of his duties.
Assistant Manager Ray Mathias stepped into the manager’s role and was an instant success; a remarkable run of one defeat in 23 league games saw Rovers almost reach the play-offs. Only a 94th minute Robert Earnshaw goal for Cardiff at Prenton Park saw Tranmere miss out, a goal which ultimately took Cardiff into the Championship. Mathias was sacked after a 1-1 draw at home to Wrexham only a few games into the new season, and Brian Little took to the helm.
Little’s well known defensive approach brought a league finish of eight in his first season, and the following term saw Rovers limp the playoffs on the back of a miserable run of form. A 2-2 aggregate scoreline against Hartlepool led to a dramatic penalty shootout in which Ian Sharps missed his penalty to send Hartlepool to Cardiff. A huge squad turnover saw the departures of many of Rovers best players in search of much needed funds, and the players that came in could only just avoid relegation thanks to a last minute winner at stadium:mk which ironically, and ‘sadly’ sent MK Dons down.
Ronnie Moore took control for the 2006 season and led the club to a respectable 9th place in League One. The following season saw an 11th placed finish, a season in which Rovers spent most of the time inside the top six. Last season saw Rovers miss out on the playoffs thanks to a Cliff Byrne goal for Scunthorpe in the 88th minute in a showdown ‘winner takes all’ playoff clash between the clubs. The goal ultimately cost Ronnie Moore his job, and ex-Celtic manager John Barnes (pictured) was a surprise appointment to the Prenton Park helm.
A number of out of contract first teamers left the club in the close season, these included Steve Jennings, Danny Coyne, Ben Chorley, Antony Kay and Chris Greenacre. Promising left-back Andy Taylor went to Sheffield United and the club was unable to renew Ryan Shotton’s loan deal. Oldham midfielder Mark Allott was the first summer signing before Ronnie Moore’s departure, and he was released just weeks later as John Barnes made his mark on the squad. Young keeper Luke Daniels was brought in on loan from West Brom, and former Mariners defenders Shaleum Logan and Marlon Broomes were also drafted in on loan. Hull midfielder John Welsh was signed on a free transfer, and veteran midfielder Paul McLaren was re-signed from Bradford City just a year after his release. Tranmere old boy Alan Mahon was also signed, the winger was snapped up on a free transfer from Premier League newcomers Burnley. The players that remain at the club from last season include Ian Thomas-Moore, Gareth Edds, Bas Savage (left), Charlie Barnett and Chris Shuker. Young striker Craig Curran also remained at the club, the frontman has shown plenty of promise in his time in the first team, but injuries have so far hampered his progress.
Charlie Barnett. The young midfielder was brought to the club by former manager Ronnie Moore in the 2008 close season. He was trained by Liverpool before his release, and failed to play a game for the Reds. For the early part of last season Barnett was disappointing, he failed to impose himself on games and many fans blamed this on his slight stature. However, a run in the first team gave him the confidence to show his ability in the second half of the season and he became a major figure in Rovers’ push for the playoffs. The 20 year olds range of passing and shooting are his strengths, he scored important goals at Peterborough and Oldham last season as well as the third in a 3-1 win over Hereford. Plenty is to come from the youngster who won two youth cups while at Liverpool.
Head to Head
Town have a good record against Tranmere, especially at Blundell Park, where they have only lost 3 out of 31 games. At Prenton Park Tranmere have won more than they have lost.
P 62 W 28 D 16 L 18 F 110 A 76
Grimsby 2 Tranmere 0 (Tue 12th Aug 2008)
James Hunt and Andy Taylor were on target for the Mariners.
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