MANAGER Ronnie Moore has urged Tranmere to deliver a performance in front of a national TV audience tonight that will show just why they are five points clear at the top of the League One table.
The occasion is a rescheduled FA Cup first-round tie against Braintree Town. Postponed 10 days ago because the pitch at the Conference National club’s tiny Cressing Road ground was waterlogged, the game will be broadcast live on ITV4.
While Moore sees the television exposure as an opportunity for this young team to enhance their growing reputation across the country, he acknowledges the TV bosses picked out this tie in the hope it will produce an upset.
Moore said: “We are not on the TV because they like us. We are on the TV because they think Braintree can beat us. You could say that shows us a bit of disrespect.
“We really have to go there and show people how good we are, show people why we are top of the league. We are not flukes. You can’t be fluky to be where we are after 17 games. We deserve to be in the position we’re in.”
Moore says he is confident his players won’t make the mistake of underestimating Braintree, who defeated Gateshead 2-1 last Saturday to climb to 19th place in the Conference table.
“If any of our lads think we just have to turn up at Braintree to win they will be in for a big shock,” Moore said. “If you go anywhere thinking it’s going to be easy, you won’t win. Fortunately we have no prima donnas in our dressing room. I won’t have them and the rest of the lads won’t have that kind of attitude.
“It is a great dressing room. If anyone gets above their station, we have enough know-how in there to knock it down.
“I know there are a lot of young players in the squad but there are one or two older heads amongst the youngsters. And we have got Andy Robinson. No-one is going to mess about when he is around. He has all the experience in the world and won’t have anyone thinking they are bigger than they should be.”
Even so, Tranmere’s strong form and the gap of two divisions between the teams is no guarantee the unexpected can’t happen.
Moore himself has enjoyed his share of uncomfortable experiences in the FA Cup. One of the most recent occurred during his spell as manager of Oldham in 2005, when the Latics needed a late equaliser from the veteran David Eyres to snatch a 1-1 draw with Northern Premier League club Chasetown in the first round. The Latics went on to secure a comfortable replay victory at Boundary Park.
Moore said: “We were in a TV game against Chasetown when we were 1-0 down until late in the game. They can be nerve-wracking games and if you are not your best you can get beaten.
“I’d like to think that if our players are at their best we will get a positive outcome. But a lot of it can come down to luck.”
Tranmere will be without leading goalscorer Jake Cassidy and midfielder Liam Palmer because the two loan players have been declined permission to appear in the FA Cup by their parent clubs, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Sheffield Wednesday respectively.
Right-back Danny Holmes is a serious doubt after taking a painful knock just above the shin in last Saturday’s 1-0 win at Oldham. However, Robinson is available for duty once more after missing last Saturday’s game through suspension. The wide midfielder’s return is likely to leave Moore with a choice between Jake Jervis, Adam McGurk and Cole Stockton for the two forward places.
Danny Harrison, who played 20 minutes as a substitute at Oldham, and Max Power will be hoping for a chance to start in Palmer’s midfield role. Moore said: “This is an opportunity for the players in the squad who have not played many games this season to step up and show what they can do.”