SOMETHING will have to give at the Memorial Stadium tomorrow when Ricky Lambert, the Liverpool-born striker in hot form for Bristol Rovers, comes up against a Tranmere defence with one of the meanest records in League One over the last couple of months.
Lambert’s 18 goals make him the second top scorer in the division. The powerfully-built 26-year-old is in his best scoring form since joining the Pirates from Rochdale in the summer of 2006.
Tranmere’s defensive record shows five goals conceded in the last nine league games and Lambert is likely to be up against Ian Goodison, who recently collected an award as the North West region’s League One player of the year.
However, manager Ronnie Moore acknowledges minimising Lambert’s threat will be a shared responsibility amongst his defenders.
Moore said: “Lambert is scoring goals for fun and he is not the only danger man Bristol have. They have wide men who get good crosses into the box.
“It is up to the back four as a unit to dominate them. We all need to win the first ball and stop the crosses coming into the box. That should limit the opportunities Lambert is allowed and it’s what we will be working on.”
Lambert’s goals should have put Bristol in a challenging position in the table. Instead the free-scoring Pirates stand three points above the relegation zone because they concede almost as many goals as they plunder.
The problem is so bad that manager Paul Trollope is threatening to shake up the defence that has leaked 33 goals in 19 games – nine more than Tranmere. Bristol will also be looking for a first win in six league games.
Moore said: “We know a lot about Bristol Rovers and we are not going to be kidded. They are a big strong side who can be dangerous.
“It will be a difficult game. Don’t look at where Bristol are in the table. They are going to come out of the spell. We will respect them but we will also go there full of confidence because we are playing well in the league.”
Moore hopes Tranmere can shake off the disappointment of Tuesday night’s FA Cup replay defeat to Peterborough and pick up the form that earned them recent home victories in the league over promotion chasers Scunthorpe and Leeds United.
Moore said: “Tuesday was a frustrating night for all of us because we were 12 seconds away from going through to the third round when Peterborough equalised.
“We could have been looking forward to a nice little game at West Bromwich Albion in the next round, bringing some money into the club that would probably have enabled us to strengthen in January. That’s not to be.
“But we are in good form in the league and I’m pleased about the way we are progressing. Scunthorpe and Leeds were difficult games and we won them.
“If we go to Bristol Rovers and play with a confidence we’re been showing home and away, I don’t see any reason why we can’t win the game.”
Rovers eased off the pressure on the training ground this week after the extra time exertions of Tuesday night.
Moore be able to welcome back on-loan defender John Johnson, who did not have clearance from his club, Middlesbrough, to play in the FA Cup.
However, Mark Wilson, the midfielder on loan from Doncaster, is rated as a “big doubt” by Moore after turning over an ankle in the 2-1 win over the Leeds last Saturday.
Moore reports young striker Craig Curran is close to be joining the first-team squad in training following a long lay-off with a back problem. Experienced front man Chris Greenacre is also out of the reckoning with a back problem.