Can Tranmere beat lowly Rochdale?

With the business end of the League Two season upon us, Rochdale are six points from safety and hosts Tranmere Rovers have officially confirmed their place in League Two for next season.

A little surge recently, with wins against Wimbledon and Walsall saw seemingly down-and-out Rochdale, claw back much-needed points and provide an outside chance of survival in League Two.

After Bradford City comfortably beat Rochdale last weekend, optimism of survival from the fans has seemed to dwindle a little bit, but a Tranmere side who have stuttered on the road could be the perfect chance to re-instate their survival hopes.

Tranmere’s season has theoretically ended, with nothing to play for and a spot in League Two is confirmed for next season. Rovers can coast towards the end of the season, but a few wins on the boards wouldn’t go amiss.

Ian Dawes’ men are coming into the fixture against another relegation-threatened side after slipping up against Crawley. Harvey Saunders broke the deadlock before a rally earned the Reds the three points. Kane Hemmings’ late penalty miss summed up Rovers’ day.

Another three points to hinder Rochdale’s survival hopes would be a huge confidence booster for Tranmere as the League Two campaign is drawing to a close.

Players to watch 

Ian Henderson (Rochdale)

A department Rochdale have lacked this season has been in front of goal, with their top scorer expected to be out of action as he has been for a while, so Ian Henderson will be one to watch.

Quick feet and lethal when on form, Henderson has netted eight times throughout the campaign, including a few in recent weeks, so he’s one for Tranmere to watch out for as he could add more misery to an already patchy back-line.

Josh Hawkes (Tranmere)

Despite the goals drying up of late, Hawkes is a player who can spark a game into life with his tricky footwork and an eye for goal, which has seen him as Tranmere’s leading scorer.

Hawkes has netted eight times throughout the season for Rovers, matching Kane Hemmings’ goal return, three of which have been since the turn of the year.

A replica of his form, which has branded him as a dangerous player, and the struggling Reds will have to be at their best to keep him quiet.

Head to Head results 

2022-23: Tranmere 1-1 Rochdale 

2021-22: Tranmere 2-0 Rochdale

  • Rochdale 1-0 Tranmere

2019-20: Tranmere 2-3 Rochdale

2018: Tranmere 1-3 Rochdale

Managers 

Both Rochdale and Tranmere have interim management, with Jim McNulty, a Rochdale player, and Ian Dawes, a vastly experienced coach, taking the reins on a temporary basis until a permanent figure is installed. 

Images: Tony Coombes/TRFC Graphic: Birkenhead News

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