Rovers get the Friday night lights treatment as they visit Tranmere Rovers in Sky Bet League Two.
The two sides are separated by four points in the standings but are experiencing contrasting runs of form heading into the clash at Prenton Park.
Tranmere’s three wins this term have come on home soil but they welcome Grant McCann’s side having won just twice in their last 13 outings.
Goals seem to be guaranteed in matched involving Tranmere, which average more than three goals per game.
LAST TIME OUT
Crewe Alexandra 2 Tranmere Rovers 0
Sky Bet League Two, Saturday, October 14, 2023
Line-up: McGee, Wood, Yarney, Davies, O’Connor, Morris (Murphy 50), Hendry, Jennings, Hawkes (Apter 85), Jolley (Dennis 67), Saunders.
Having returned to Prenton Park as technical director in the summer, Nigel Adkins became interim manager on the Wirral following Ian Dawes’ dismissal in early September.
Once a player for the Birkenhead outfit, he went on to play for Wigan Athletic and Bangor City – winning the League of Wales twice with the Citizens as player-manager.
Adkins rose to prominence in management with his spell at Scunthorpe United between 2006 and 2010, when he guided Iron to the Championship twice before taking the reins at Southampton where he masterminded the rise from League One to the Premier League with back-to-back promotions.
THE KEY MEN
Goalkeeper: Joe Murphy
The 42-year-old is set to stand-in as goalkeeper on Friday night following Luke McGee’s red card against Crewe last weekend.
The former Republic of Ireland international had notable stays at Scunthorpe United and Coventry City, where he made 201 and 137 appearances respectively. He returned to Tranmere in 2020.
Defender: Connor Wood
Left-back Wood had a unique youth journey, graduating from the Nike Academy in 2016 before arriving on the books of Premier League champions Leicester City.
He never featured for the Foxes but made more than 100 appearances for Bradford City before turning out for Leyton Orient and Colchester United on the way to Tranmere.
In the middle: Connor Jennings
Having played on the non-league circuit for the majority of his career, Jennings is something of a cult hero at Prenton Park after featuring in Tranmere’s rise from the National League to League One.
Loan spells and another National League promotion with Stockport County followed before the Englishman rejoined Rovers this summer. He has scored three goals already this term.
Up top: Charlie Jolley
A Wigan Athletic academy graduate, Jolley made three appearances for the Latics but struggled to nail down a spot at the DW Stadium.
In 2021 he joined Tranmere and struggled to make a permanent impression on Birkenhead. But after a loan spell at Chester, he has recently featured as his side’s leading striker under Adkins.
Rovers first met Tranmere in the 1923/24 Division Three North campaign and fell to a 3-0 loss on The Wirral in the April of that season. The reverse fixture was played just three days later and Rovers ran out as dominant 4-0 winners at Belle Vue.
In total, Rovers have won exactly half the 76 meetings between the sides and have double the amount of victories to their name in the head-to-head rivalry with 38 in comparison to Tranmere’s 19.
The last meeting between the sides saw Rovers run out 2-0 winners in League Two as Ben Close and Kyle Hurst netted at the Eco-Power Stadium in February 2023.
TURNED OUT FOR BOTH
Both sides have enjoyed the services of former Northern Ireland international Luke McCullough during the last decade and the versatile defender found success in South Yorkshire.
Rovers signed McCullough from Manchester United in 2013 and he went on to make 110 appearances in the red and white hoops as well as scoring his only goal for the club against Bristol City in the FA Cup in 2015.
He had two spells at Prenton Park and made 44 appearances for Tranmere before returning to his homeland with Glentoran where he continues to feature.
Contributor: Jefferson Hall-Nolan