Get to know Saturday's opponents...
Having won just one of their last 5 games, Tranmere have a hit a bump in the road since their excellent start to the season where they lost just two of their first 14 games. Their midweek loss to Northampton made it three successive defeats, with two of those coming at home.
That poor run of form for Tranmere has also meant that Stevenage have opened up a 5 point gap over Saturday's hosts, albeit having played one more game.
- Squad News:
In the January Transfer Window, Mickey Mellon signed winger Kieron Morris from Walsall on-loan as well as defender Sid Nelson from Milwall. Both players made their debuts in the Tuesday loss to Northampton. These deals mean that Mellon has signed 40 players in 2 years at the helm, more than any other club in League Two during that time.
Tranmere have no reported injuries heading into the game.
- Key Performers:
There is no question who the man to keep an eye on is this Saturday - striker James Norwood.
Norwood has already scored 19 league goals so far this season, making him the league’s top scorer. The 28-year-old started his professional career at Eastbourne Town before being swept up by Exeter City in 2009. At Exeter, he was sent out on loan at Sutton United, Forest Green Rovers and Eastbourne Borough before signing a permanent deal with Forest Green Rovers where he scored 48 goals in 149 appearances. Norwood then joined Tranmere in 2015 and currently sits on an impressive record of 71 goals in 147 games.
During the build-up to Saturday's game, Dino Maamria has stated Norwood as the best striker in Sky Bet League Two.
Another man to watch closely is winger Jonny Smith. Smith, a loanee from Bristol City, has netted 5 times so far this season but it is his creative play on the ball that makes him so dangerous to the Stevenage defence.
The Welshman graduated from the Wrexham Youth Academy and after playing just one game for the First Team, he was signed by Bristol City in 2016. Since signing for the club, Smith has gained vital experience with loans at Cheltenham, AFC Fylde and Tranmere. This tricky winger that will have to be nullified if Maamria's men are to succeed this weekend.
- Key Stats:
Head-to-head, the two teams are currently level on points across all meetings with five draws and two wins each. In fact, each of the last three games between the two sides have ended in 2-2 draws.
Rovers have one of the meanest home defences in the league this season, having conceded just 9 goals at home, bettered only by MK Dons and Mansfield. On only three occasions have Tranmere tasted defeat on their own patch, each time by just the one goal.
- Journalist’s View with Tom Cavilla of The Liverpool Echo:
Who could be Tranmere’s key player on Saturday?
"I am not sure ‘could’ would be giving James Norwood enough credit here! The 28-year-old striker almost certainly will be Tranmere’s go-to man on Saturday, as more often that not, he is the player who produces the goods when most needed. His 19 league goals speak volumes of his talent. Having already scored two goals vs Stevenage on the opening day, I am sure Dino Maamria will need no reminding of the threat Norwood poses, however."
What do Stevenage have to do to beat Tranmere?
"Press high. Tranmere have conceded a fair few goals this season through careless errors in defence. Opponents have moved high up the pitch to be hot on their heels and have subsequently dispossessed them in dangerous positions. This then usually ends with one outcome, really."
What do Tranmere have to do to beat Stevenage?
"Show resilience. Tranmere are on a bad run of form, but need to stick together right now. They trailed Stevenage 2-0 back in August but showed fight and character to earn a draw courtesy of a James Norwood brace."
"After a run of three successive defeats (including two home losses), this really is a game Tranmere cannot afford to lose. Win and the gap between Rovers and the Boro is reduced to just two points, lose and it becomes eight.
It won’t be easy, but Tranmere will dig deep and find a way to prevail as winners: 3-1 Tranmere (Norwood X2, Banks)."