Tranmere v Crawley Town preview: Reds will have to be at their best to get anything against one of the league's best
Crawley Town’s second long away trip sees them travel to another side in the play-off places and another side they beat 4-0 in the reverse fixture, as they travel to Birkenhead to face Tranmere Rovers.
However, a lot has changed at Rovers since that 4-0 demolishing in West Sussex, as they have turned their season around and look to be bouncing straight back to League One.
It was just nine games into the season at that point, but Tranmere sat 17th and looked out of their depth in League Two but since Mike Jackson’s departure and Keith Hill replacing him Tranmere have managed to turn things round and sit comfortably in a play-off place.
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The key to their turn around has been getting veteran striker James Vaughan playing well again, as he’s now racked up 18 league goals and is the second top scorer in the league. Vaughan is always a handful and will cause any team problems with his ability to be very good both technically and physically. The striker being able to show both sides of the game allows Tranmere to play in multiple different ways and change styles if things aren’t going their way.
However, it hasn’t just been Vaughan who’s been impressive it seems like a different Tranmere team to the one that started the season and they’ve managed to get themselves back in a position to bounce straight back to League One, following relegation last season.
Historically when the two sides have met the home team usually comes out on top, with the last two encounters between the two sides ending in big home wins.
Crawley’s 4-0 win at the People’s Pension Stadium earlier in the season equaled the last time Crawley went to Prenton Park, as they were smashed 5-1 in 2018. The Reds will be looking to avoid being beaten this time round but know they’ll be in for one of their toughest games of the season. Injuries have hit Crawley hard in recent weeks with the losses of Tom Dallison and Tony Craig against Colchester being a big blow to the Crawley defence.
In their absence Joe McNerney and George Francomb have stepped into centre back, with multiple different combinations playing wing back for the Reds. Crawley have seemed to adapt to this well though with Joe McNerney in particular impressing since his return to the side. McNerney will be in for a tough duel against Vaughan but if he can manage to keep him quiet it may be his most impressive display since his return to the side.
It’s a very tough place to go and Crawley will have to be on it against one of the league's best in order to bring some points back home.