With the season less than a month from its climax, there are still some valuable points for teams to play for, and one of those fixtures where both teams have something hanging in the balance is in West Sussex, as Crawley Town welcome Tranmere Rovers.
Crawley are in a fight for their lives, with off-field issues marring their season and they now occupy the final relegation place, joined in the dreaded drop zone by Rochdale.
After a good run until late March which catapulted them to the realistic possibility of safety, they’ve dropped off again, allowing John Askey’s Hartlepool United to clamber above them, and after Monday’s long journey up to Barrow to see the Reds succumb to a 4-0 drubbing, you wonder where the good fortunes will finally fall in their favour.
Their opponents, Tranmere, have finally found lift-off under Ian Dawes and have the slightest of chances of scraping into the top seven this season, although highly unlikely. But with pride the most realistic thing to play for, they will hope to go out of a nevertheless disappointing campaign on a high.
After their last league win in late February – against Crawley at Prenton Park – a managerial change has taken place and now, after a 1-0 victory over Swindon Town, they finally earned their first maximum under the tenure of Dawes, so now they’ll look to build on it as they visit Sussex on Saturday.
Players to watch
Dom Telford (Crawley)
A Football League veteran, Telford has always shown goal-scoring prowess at this level, and he’s proved to be Crawley’s biggest threat in front of goal this season.
On the back of 25 goals last season for Newport County, Telford joined Town in the summer of 2022 and has notched up nine goals in 38 appearances. However, none have been in his recent few displays as his form has dried up and his cameos briefer than usual.
He needs to get back to scoring ways soon, and Saturday presents him with a great chance to do so, albeit against a recently astute Tranmere backline.
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 come since the turn of the year.
If he reproduces his earlier form that branded him as a dangerous player, the struggling Reds will have to be at their best to keep him quiet.
2022/23: Tranmere Rovers 1-0 Crawley Town
2021/22 – Crawley Town 0-1 Tranmere Rovers
- Tranmere Rovers 2-1 Crawley Town
2020/21 – Tranmere Rovers 0-1 Crawley Town
- Crawley Town 4-0 Tranmere Rovers
Scott Lindsay (Crawley)
A rather inexperienced manager, Lindsay hasn’t had the desired impact as set out when he arrived at Crawley from Swindon Town.
A journeyman of a player, his first taste of management came as caretaker manager of Lincoln City back in 2010 before plying his trade at Chatham, Swindon and after his time at Swindon, he joined League Two counterparts, Crawley.
The Reds still sit in the bottom three under him, but an upturn in fortunes has seen them just a few points inside the dreaded line, and a win against Rovers would help a great deal.
Ian Dawes & Andy Parkinson (Tranmere)
With Tranmere yet to install a permanent outfit in the dugout since the departure of Micky Mellon, Ian Dawes and Andy Parkinson will be stepping in temporarily.
Dawes, an experienced coach and Parkinson, a former Tranmere player, will be hoping to oversee their first victory in charge with the visit of Swindon to the Wirral.
Image: Tony Coombes/TRFC