Tranmere Rovers return to Prenton Park for the first time in 2023, as Sutton United visit the Wirral Peninsula on Saturday afternoon.
Rovers come into the fixture after a good three performances in the festive period, with wins against Doncaster Rovers and Barrow, and a disappointing defeat against Crewe Alexandra on New Year’s Day, where the story of the match was the whites not being clinical enough in front of goal.
Micky Mellon’s side could progress to ninth place in the Sky Bet League Two table with a win, just two points off the play-off positions, should results go their way over the next two fixture-weeks.
Sutton are three places above Tranmere, and a win for the U’s could force them up to sixth in the table. Matt Gray’s side have won 4 of their last 5 games, and are unbeaten in the last 5 fixtures, meaning that they are steadily climbing the table and have become one of the most in-form teams in the league.
United earned nine points out of a possible nine over the Christmas period, with three home wins at the VBS Community Stadium against AFC Wimbledon, Gillingham and Colchester United.
Tranmere Boss, Micky Mellon, expressed his frustration at Sunday’s 1-0 defeat against Crewe regarding his team’s lack of clinical finishing in front of the opposition goal, meaning the whites lost the game.
“When you’re on top as much as we were in the first half, it’s disappointing to lose. We weren’t good enough to put the ball in the net, however we were good enough to create good chances. We gave them (Crewe) something to hang on to and to be fair to them, they worked really hard and got the three points.”
Rovers beat Sutton away from home earlier this season, when Micky Mellon’s side came out on top thanks to goals from Kane Hemmings and Paul Lewis, winning 2-0.
One To Watch: Donovan Wilson
Born in Yate, Donovan Wilson is Sutton’s 3rd top goal scorer so far this season, however, has scored just twice this campaign.
The 25-year-old has played for numerous clubs in his 8-year professional career. He was involved in the academy setup at Bristol Rovers from the age of 7 up until the age of 18, where he signed his first professional contract. He went on loan to Wolverhampton Wanderers, where he signed permanently in the summer of 2015.
He stayed at the club for 4 years, featuring just once for the First Team. He enjoyed loans in this time at Port Bale, Jumilla and Exeter City, before signing for Burgos in 2019.
He had short but unsuccessful stints at Macclesfield Town and Bath City, before joining Sutton United on loan in 2021. He signed a permanent deal that summer and across the two spells, he has made 67 times, scoring 13 times.
Two of these goals have come this season, as well as two assists – so the forward is definitely one to look out for this weekend for Rovers’ defenders.
The Manager: Matt Gray
Sutton United Manager, Matt Gray, started his career in football as an academy player in North London for Tottenham Hotspur, and in South Wales for Cardiff City.
The 41-year-old was released from Cardiff and signed for Barnet FC back in 2001, where he played one season. He later signed for Hayes and had a spell lasting over 3 years.
His final shot at making it into the professional game was at non-league side Havant and Waterlooville, where he played 12 times over 2 years.
He was forced to retire at age 25 due to injuries which prevented him from making it in the pro game.
After the end of his playing career, he got into coaching – including an Assistant Manager job at Eastleigh, Aldershot Town and Crawley Town, before being appointed one of the coaches at Sutton United.
After manager, Paul Doswell stepped down in April 2019, he was interim Manager for the final game of the National League season.
After this, he was appointed manager of Sutton United in 2019 and has since achieved promotion from the Vanarama National League to the Sky Bet League Two for the first time in their 123-year history.
Since being appointed boss of the U’s, he has led the side out on 176 separate occasions – winning 79, drawing 42 and losing 55 – meaning his win percentage is 44.9%.
International supporters can get their match pass to watch the game live on iFollow by clicking here
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You can follow the action through our social media channels below, with full text coverage during the fixture, followed by a match report.
Match reaction from Micky Mellon and a player will follow on our website and YouTube channel.