Promotion hopefuls Tranmere Rovers have a chance to cement their ambitions this weekend when the Sky Bet League Two high-flyers welcome Rochdale to Birkenhead in our featured clash.
The hosts are in a rich vein of form for the visit of the Dale, but will Robbie Stockdale’s side test their resolve?
📅 Match details
Kick-off at Prenton Park on Saturday 15 January is 15:00 when Rochdale cross over to Merseyside.
Referee Ben Toner will be joined by assistant officials Joe Clark and Chris Isherwood, and fourth official Tom Nield.
👔 At the helm
Tranmere Rovers manager Micky Mellon has made an immediate impression since returning to Prenton Park in the summer and the boss, who spent a year away from Merseyside, will be eyeing another promotion with the Club to go alongside back-to-back feats from non-League to the Sky Bet League One.
Another new appointment for the 2021/22 season, Robbie Stockdale has a wealth of EFL experience. The 42-year-old had six years at Sunderland as part of the backroom staff, before moving on to take up the assistant manager role at Hibernian and, from there, a first-team coaching role at West Bromwich Albion.
The Dale boss racked up over 250 appearances as a player with the likes of hometown team Middlesbrough, Sheffield Wednesday, Rotherham United, Hull City and West Ham United, including spells in League Two with Darlington and Grimsby Town.
🔑 Key man
For Tranmere, Kieron Morris has four goals in 22 appearances this season, and the hosts will be buoyed by his return this weekend.
The attacker, who won promotion whilst on loan with Tranmere in 2018/19 was named Player of the Season in 2019/20 and, after impressing on loan from League Two rivals Walsall, made the switch a permanent one.
One of boss Stockdale’s August recruits, Liam Kelly completed a move from Feyenoord to the Crown Oil Arena in the summer, having had a taste of the EFL during a loan spell with Oxford United last season.
The midfielder came through the ranks at Reading – making his debut in August 2016 – before his career took him to the Eredivisie and, eventually, back to England with Rochdale.
📈 Form guide
Second-placed Tranmere will be looking to extend their eight-game unbeaten run against Rochdale – a streak which has seen the Merseyside team climb into the automatic promotion places, nine points adrift of table toppers Forest Green Rovers.
Mellon’s men boast the League’s best defence, keeping five clean sheets in their last six outings, but will today’s visitors to Prenton Park be able to find a way through? The Dale, who occupy 17th place, managed their first win in six to finish 2021, with Stockdale’s side yet to kick off the New Year.
It was Rochdale who came out on top last time the two teams met in the League in September; Danny Cashman’s 84th-minute winner was enough to seal maximum points for the Dale, who, at the time, sat in fifth, whilst Tranmere occupied 15th-place.
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