Tranmere boss warns of Yeovil threat
TRANMERE look to maintain the momentum of their best start to a League One campaign for four years when they take on Yeovil Town at Prenton Park this afternoon.
Rovers welcome the Glovers as their first opponents of September after taking 10 points from five games during August. That matches the performance of Ronnie Moore’s 2007/08 team, who won three of their opening five league fixtures.
Manager Les Parry said: “We’ve had a good August, not a great one, and it’s important we take that into September. We want to come out of this month in the same position we’re in now – or better.”
Rovers start the afternoon lying fifth in the table, six points better off than Yeovil, who have won only once. But Parry reckons Yeovil’s record disguises some solid performances and he expects Tranmere to be given a thorough examination by Terry Skiverton’s team.
Parry said: “Yeovil have lost three games but in two of them they were beaten 1-0 by Sheffield United and MK Dons – teams who are fancied to go up automatically.
“No-one has turned them over. Their form is not as bad as the results suggest. In the two games I watched they played well and in the 1-1 draw at Walsall they were unfortunate not to win.”
Both sides have injury problems. Skiverton is down to one specialist striker – Steve MacLean – and can’t bring in new faces before next week.
Tranmere will be without centre-back Mark McChrystal (foot injury) and attacking midfielder Andy Robinson (hamstring), both casualties from a Johnstone’s Paint Trophy win over Port Vale in midweek.
Ash Taylor could well find himself selected alongside Ian Goodison at the heart of the defence after impressing in his first senior appearance of the season against the Valiants..
Parry said: “Ash was probably our best player on Tuesday so there are no worries about him. He’s played 100 odd games and has been watched by bigger clubs, so there isn’t a problem there.”
However, replacing Robinson won’t be so straightforward. The 31-year-old is an influential figure whose creative skills have been used to good effect in a role just behind the central striker in Tranmere’s 4-4-1-1 formation.
Parry said: “Robbo is different to anyone else we have and replacing him maybe a bit more difficult. That little bit of creativity he gives us is important. We are going to have a look at that and see how it goes. If it looks like we’re lacking something without him, we may have to go into the loan market.”
Tranmere should have the alternative of adjusting the tactics to play powerful strikers Enoch Showunmi and Mustafa Tiryaki as an attacking pair.
Showunmi missed the Port Vale game to rest a slight strain but Parry said: “He was keen to get back into training this week and that’s encouraging. He wants to play.”
Tiryaki, the 24-year-old signed from non-League football this summer, paired up with Showunmi to positive effect in the final half-hour of Tranmere’s 1-1 draw with joint leaders Sheffield United a fortnight ago.
So far, midfielders have been taking the lead in the scoring stakes, accounting for six of the eight goals scored. Robbie Weir and Joss Labadie have two apiece, John Welsh and Robinson one each. Tranmere’s other goals have come from defenders Dave Buchanan and Taylor.
Parry said: “It is always good to have a striker who scores 20 goals in a season. Everyone wants one of those but he’s pretty unrealistic at our level, so it is vitally important that everyone chips in by scoring some goals.
“Enoch got 13 goals last season. If the midfielders are getting half of that and your centre backs are popping up to score, you’ve got a chance.
“Most midfield players love running towards the opposition goal. Robbie Weir probably makes more runs into the box than most midfielders in our division.
“It is pleasing to see it happening and it is making for slightly more attractive football.”