Jan 18 2014 Sat WIR
TRANMERE aim to make embarrassment work as a motivational tool when they tackle Peterborough United for the third time this season at London Road today.
The first two meetings ended in 5-0 drubbings for Rovers, so the fact that The Posh go into this afternoon’s League One encounter on the back of four league defeats and an FA Cup exit to non-League Kidderminster Harriers in midweek provides only a measure of comfort.
Manager Ronnie Moore and his staff know all too well about Peterborough’s quality, how good they can be going forward and how poorly their own performances were in the League One fixture at Prenton Park in August and the FA Cup second round tie at London Road last month.
Part of Tranmere’s match preparation this week was a session analysing replays of all 10 goals conceded to Darren Ferguson’s team.
Moore said: “The players are probably feeling more embarrassed than anything else because there is nothing worse than having two 5-0 defeats against the same team.
“We would like to think we will go there with a positive attitude, determined that it isn’t going to happen again.
“We have looked at the goals in the previous two games. Peterborough did not have to work for those goals, especially the ones at London Road in the Cup. We did not keep the ball well when we went there last time. We gave it away for fun. If you do that against good sides, you get punished.
“We had a bit of an excuse in the home game because we had a man sent off (full-back Andrai Jones) in the first half.
“Those defeats can motivate our players as well.”
Tranmere take a new look defence to London Road which includes teenage loan signings Matthew Pennington (from Everton) at right-back and Stephen Arthurworrey (from Fulham) at centre-back.
Both made encouraging contributions in two games this month, the 1-1 draws at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers and Walsall.
Moore expects his team will come under pressure from another team with a focus set on promotion.
“Peterborough play fluent attacking football and have two very good strikers,” Moore said. “They do score goals. At the present time they are leaking them at the back as well, so I think we have to be a bit more positive in our approach. Having said that, on the last two occasions, we played 4-4-2 against them and did not threaten a goal. That is something we need to look at.”
Moore isn’t saying what kind of formation he plans to deploy today. He started Tranmere’s last game, the draw against Walsall, with a 4-5-1 setup which was changed, midway through the second half, to 4-4-2.
“The important thing is we go there with the right attitude and stop Peterborough from playing,” Moore said. “We have to remind ourselves that those defeats were in the past. Can we keep the ball better this time, get into the opposition’s faces? If we do those things we will have chance of winning the game because we have Ryan Lowe in the team and he is always liable to get you a goal.”
Moore added: “The back four have done quite well in the last two games. We have a couple of new faces in there.
“I don’t want to put the mockers on them by saying too much but they have looked nice and bright. They are young. There is a bit of energy there. They are not bothered whether we are playing Peterborough or Wolves or Walsall. That’s a good thing for us.”
Tranmere will be without skipper James Wallace, who serves the second game of his three match ban for a red card in the New Year’s Day fixture against Wolves.
Danny Holmes, who started the Walsall game on the bench, is likely to miss out altogether with a back muscle strain picked up in a midweek reserve game.
Moore is not expected to stray far from the line-up that performed strongly in the second half last weekend. He will stress the importance of putting in a high energy performance from the start, having been critical of the way Tranmere backed off the Saddlers in the first half.
“We have to go to Peterborough with the right mental attitude,” Moore said. “We can’t panic because we have lost 10 goals to them.”
Peterborough’s form this season has run in streaks. They opened the League One campaign with four straight wins and put another four-game sequence together in September and October. The decline from the forefront of the promotion race began with a run of five consecutive League One defeats between October 26 and November 26.
They bounced back with three wins and a draw from the next four games, then hit the skids again with four losses in a row. The latest run of negative results cost The Posh a place in the top six.