Form (all competitions): Tranmere WWDLW | Wycombe WDWWL
Last time out: MK Dons 1-3 Tranmere (League One) | Wycombe 1-2 B Team
Head-to-head: P12 | Wycombe W4 | Tranmere W7 | D1
Previous meeting: Tranmere 1-2 Wycombe (03/03/15, League Two)
Setting the Scene
I pondered on Thursday whether people would be ‘feeling’ the first round of the Cup this year. After all, I’m sure both sides would have preferred something different – not least with the same fixture in the league taking place eight days later. Still, I’m reminded that this is the greatest cup competition in the world (debatable, given those at the elite level’s attempts to suppress the magic), and we should probably enjoy this. I do love the FA Cup; it’s just hard to get up for an uninspiring tie.
This game won’t serve as a welcome distraction from league action for either side. Tranmere’s mission for 2019/20 is to stay up, having been promoted back to League One last term. They currently sit just outside the drop zone in 18th and have enjoyed wins away at Coventry and MK Dons in recent weeks, so there’s a bit of momentum to keep going. Meanwhile, we’ve got a promotion push to sustain. We’ve not met Rovers for the best part of five years or ever in any cup competition, so there is that, but the double-header has made this showpiece of the footballing calendar somewhat less of an occasion. That said…
…I suppose it would be nice to get to round three and suss out Man United before next season’s first ever league meeting.
Last season: 6th in League Two (promoted via play-offs), FA Cup third round (lost 0-7 v Tottenham)
Manager: Micky Mellon (appointed October 2016)
Top scorers (all competitions): Stefan Payne (ST), Connor Jennings (ST) – 4
Most assists (all competitions): Kieron Morris (RW) – 5
Style of play: Wide, direct, shoot often (also aggressive – third worst disciplinary record in League One)
As of last Saturday’s 3-1 win at MK, Tranmere’s injury count stood at nine. With a squad of 31, that’s not going to affect Micky Mellon’s ability to rotate, but he might have to balance experience with the risk of further knocks. Exciting Aston Villa loanee Rushian Hepburn-Murphy must be in contention for only his fourth start following his hat-trick in north Bucks, while Stefan Payne should be fresh after serving his ban. Mellon may look to pack the midfield by reverting to a 4-4-2, which could see Corey Blackett-Taylor – who’s been used mostly from the bench – start, with on-loan Man United left-back Cameron Borthwick-Jackson the only outfield player used by but yet to start for Rovers this season.
We, on the other hand, may have a fully-fit squad from which to select. This seems a handy opportunity for Darius Charles to take a weekend off, so Giles Phillips could potentially step in, but there seems little need to make wholesale changes at the back. In midfield, though, we have options which we perhaps haven’t fully explored yet. Don’t expect to see a completely different three, but it wouldn’t be a big surprise to see one – maybe even two – of Alex Pattison, Nick Freeman and Nnamdi Ofoborh start. Tranmere’s answer to Bayo, Manny Monthe, dealt well with the Beast when he faced him in his Forest Green days, and having returned from a fairly lengthy lay-off in the week, Gaz may well opt for Alex Samuel once again. Rolando Aarons’ availability is unclear, but as for Fred and Paul Smyth, surely they’ve got to be in the squad. Surely?
In the Middle: Martin Coy
The last time we had Martin Coy, we didn’t win for 12 games. January’s 2-2 draw at Blackpool marked the start of those two months of despair. The time before that, though, we were celebrating promotion by beating Stevenage 1-0 in the Party at the Park, while his only previous Wycombe game was the dramatic 3-2 win at Crewe the same season – so there is hope! He’s shown 47 yellows but no reds in his 11 matches in 2019/20, awarding two penalties.