How We’re Doing
Another disappointing display on Tuesday night saw Coventry City squander a first-half lead to lose 2-1 to Carlisle at our exiled location. Confidence at the moment most be pretty low after not only dropping points to relegation candidates but failing to put up much of a fight in defeat. The dream of the play-offs is increasingly distant and we now find ourselves cautiously looking behind us hoping not to get sucked into a relegation battle.
Today’s trip to Birkenhead to face Tranmere Rovers could be crucial in setting the tone for the rest of our season. A win and a good performance would nip any fears of a relegation scrap in the bud. A defeat would turn the whispers in to audible tones. Our last two performances against some of the division’s weaker teams haven’t been promising and we would start to be wondering where our next win would be coming from.
Our efforts for this afternoon’s fixture haven’t been aided with the news that Arsenal loanee Chuba Akpom has been recalled to play 2 ‘important’ youth team games for his parent club. Additionally, former Rovers keeper Joe Murphy is likely to be ruled out with youth-teamer Lee Burge set to make his first-team debut for the club. On the plus side Blair Adams is fit again and should slot right into the starting line-up.
The selection headache for Pressley will be over the identity of our attack. Without Akpom the club is without a recognised first-team striker with Callum Wilson and Nathan Delfouneso still on the treatment table. Tuesday night saw Akpom paired unsuccessfully with QPR loanee Mike Petrasso in attack, you’d imagine that Pressley will have learnt that Petrasso isn’t a striker and would rotate his position in the team around with Franck Moussa. As for the central striker role it seems to be between Billy Daniels, who has only played 2 games in attack for the club but began his career as a striker, and Carl Baker who was mooted for that role prior to the signings of Akpom and Petrasso last Friday. It looks like it will be a case of experimentation for this afternoon’s fixture which doesn’t really augur well.
Last Time We Met
Put simply it was a mauling, Tranmere rocked up to Sixfields as an out-of-sorts relegation embattled side who were there for the taking. However unlike the Coventry side that began the season we were put to the sword by a clinical performance from the Merseysiders. Ryan Lowe hit a hat-trick as Tranmere put 5 past the Sky Blues with only a penalty, scored by Carl Baker, acting as any form of consolation.
Our last trip to Prenton Park came at the ‘zenith’ of the Richard Shaw caretaker spell with Tranmere taking an easy 3 points against a Coventry side who would go onto lose 4-1 to Shrewsbury days later before appointing Mark Robins.
How Are They Doing?
Tranmere are pretty much the same side that handed us a drubbing back in November. Their form hasn’t picked up noticeably and they’re now facing the prospect of coping without manager Ronnie Moore who has been suspended by the FA due to a breach of gambling laws. Whether this will entail a reaction from his charges or plunge them into a tail spin is hard to tell. Their form over the past month or so is not all too different from ours, occasionally losing, occasionally winning, it’s going to be between two sides hoping for rather than expecting a performances.
The dangerman for Tranmere is Ryan Lowe, a man who always has a habit of scoring against us no matter what kind of form he’s in. Since scoring a hat-trick against us in November he has scored roughly a goal every other game and he’s sure to be in the thinking of Lee Burge at some time this afternoon. Aside from that Tranmere have a number of decent performers at this level who are perhaps slightly underperforming. James Wallace has struggled to find form since recovering from a serious injury but is a tenacious box-to-box player who Conor Thomas could learn a thing or two from. Andy Robinson will be threat with his skill in wide areas and with set-piece delivery.
Also in ‘curse of the ex-player’ related business it should be noted that Steve Jennings should start for Tranmere this afternoon. Having been effectively sacked by the club after not fitting in to Steven Pressley’s philosophy he’ll have a point to prove, you can’t underestimate that kind of motivation.
We’re in a funk right now, out of form and out of strikers it seems. This could be a tough one to watch for Coventry fans with an inexperienced keeper set to make his debut. On the plus side this team must be seething right now at how low their performance level has been, Pressley doesn’t seem like he’ll tolerate any acceptance of mediocrity even if these final games of the season prove to be meaningless. The example of the ‘bomb squad’ should show the squad how ruthless Pressley can be when it comes to disposing of underperformers and one or two members of the first-team might have to be careful with their performance levels come the end of the season. In addition Lee Burge was an instrumental member of Nuneaton’s successful relegation battle last season so he does have experience of playing under pressure.
This is a tough one, I predict that Tranmere will win 1-0 though.