Tranmere Rovers FC manager Ronnie Moore his table-toppers they will have to repeat their special performance at Brunton Park in the return against Carlisle
RONNIE MOORE reckons Tranmere may have to produce something special once again if they are to complete the double over Carlisle United at Prenton Park this afternoon.
The League One leaders posted their first away win of the campaign at Carlisle’s Brunton Park in August, thanks to three spectacular long-range strikes from Andy Robinson.
Rovers have been making a habit of winning ever since and head the table after 29 games. The Cumbrians, meanwhile, are close enough to the relegation zone to be less than comfortable about their position.
Even so, manager Moore recognises the dangers Carlisle can pose and warns his against taking the challenge lightly.
Moore said: “I have very fond memories of the game at Carlisle early in the season and Robbo will have good memories of it as well. It was one of the best hat-tricks you will see anywhere.
“Hopefully he will get another one – because we can’t think Carlisle is going to be an easy game for us. If our players go into this game thinking the opposition are struggling and we only have to turn up, then we will get beaten. We have to treat every team we play as if they are top of the league. We can’t forget that this is a division in which any team can beat any other.”
Moore is convinced Tranmere will become a more highly prized scalp to opponents the longer they remain at the forefront of the promotion race.
“Teams will find an extra 20% when they play us because everyone wants to beat us,” Moore said. “Carlisle will be no different to that.
“They have good players and their manager (Greg Abbott) has done a tremendous job when you consider the resources he has got to attract people with. This is going to be a tricky game for us.”
Abbott says Tranmere are the success story of the season but says the Cumbrians will be ready if the hosts let their guard drop.
“I don’t think it will be any tougher at Tranmere than it was for us against Scunthorpe last Saturday,” Abbott said.
“Tranmere, for me, are the team of the season, but sometimes lethargy can filter in and you can take lightly teams you think you should be beating. It’s a really good game for us because people might think we are just going there to get beat. But we have got some decent players and 10 points out of the last six games is a really good run of form.”
Carlisle operate on a budget for players similar to Tranmere’s. Last season they finished a highly creditable eighth, four points outside the play-offs.
This time around Abbott has been wrestling with defensive problems with Carlisle conceding 50 goals in 28 games so far.
Tranmere expect to select from strength with Moore hopeful that the break caused by the postponement of last Saturday’s home game against Swindon Town has given Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro and Adam McGurk useful extra time to get over rib and hamstring injuries respectively.
Three players involved in a minor road accident earlier in the week – Robinson, McGurk and defender Michael Kay – missed training for a couple of days but Tranmere are hopeful they will be available to play.
Moore revealed he was close to signing an experienced striker from a Championship club in the loan market this week.
“We thought we had it in the bag,” Moore said. “He is experienced, 6’2” tall and unfortunately for us, he decided against coming.
“He’s not figuring for his club, not even on the bench and his manager was gutted he did not come to us because he thought it was an opportunity for the player.
“It surprised me. If we were second bottom of League One I could understand but not when we are top.
“It would have given him a great stepping stone to come here, get a few goals before the end of the season and help us challenge for promotion.”
Moore said he had been lining up a trial for a French striker but the arrangement was put on hold by last week’s freezing weather.
Tranmere will continue to look for a tall and powerful forward player in the loan market. They are able to make loan signings until the third week in March.
Meanwhile Abbott received a boost with the return to training of Carlisle defenders Mike Edwards and Peter Murphy.
Both centre-halves have made good progress after their hamstring and calf injuries and could now compete for a place in the squad for the Prenton Park trip. Chris Chantler continues to be a concern and the left-back is having further treatment on the ankle ligament sprain which kept him out of the 1-1 draw with Scunthorpe last week.
Matty Robson is again on standby to continue at left-back, though Murphy’s return could give Abbott another option in the position.