Who? Crawley Town vs Tranmere Rovers
Where? The People’s Pension Stadium
When? Saturday 6 November 15:00 kick-off
What? Emirates FA Cup First Round
Tickets are on general sale costing just £10 for over 18’s while under 18’s and over 65’s will be able to purchase a ticket for £5. Under 11's will go FREE when accompanied by a paying adult. Ticket prices will increase by £2 on the day of the match.
Tranmere Rovers sit 11th in Sky Bet League Two having begun the season in a very average fashion, picking up six wins, four draws and five losses so far. They have struggled going forward this season and have scored the joint-lowest number of goals in the league at just 11, tied with the bottom four teams. However, their top-half position is supported by the tightest defence in the league, who have been penetrated just ten times; nine teams in the league have conceded at least double that in the same number of games. They had a fairly average FA Cup campaign last season. It began with a solid 2-1 win at home to Accrington Stanley before their 1-0 victory over National League North Brackley Town sent them through to the third round. This was where they came unstuck against Championship side Barnsley, who beat Rovers 2-0 at Oakwell.
After starting October strongly – beating Crawley 2-1 at Prenton Park and then picking up a further three wins – Tranmere have lacked form of late and are without a win in three. To be fair, they have had two tough games in that run, against promotion-chasing Northampton Town (2-0 loss) and Harrogate Town (2-2) but their last game saw them face a struggling Mansfield Town at the One Call Stadium. The Super White Army gifted the Stags their first win since the second week of the season, a 2-0 victory that left Rovers’ manager Micky Mellon ‘disappointed’.
Mellon took charge of Rovers this summer, rejoining the club after a year away while he was managing Dundee United in the Scottish Premiership. Mellon oversaw Tranmere’s back-to-back promotions from the National League into League One but left the club after their relegation from the third tier and 188 games across his four years in charge. He also featured for Tranmere as a player from 1997-1999 and from 2001-2004.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Peter Clarke captains Tranmere Rovers in the absence of goalkeeper Scott Davies – who suffered a freak but serious injury against Mansfield Town last March – and is also their top goal scorer so far this season. However, that doesn’t say much as he’s netted just three times which is impressive for a centre-back who’s played 15 games. Clarke’s professional career began in the 1999/2000 season with Everton and the defender went on to make nine Premier League appearances before leaving the Toffees in 2004. He moved to Blackpool where he spent two years before swapping the Northwest for the Southeast and joining Southend United. He played over 140 times for each side. He then went to Huddersfield Town in 2009. He also spent time at Oldham Athletic, Bury AFC and Fleetwood Town, racking up over 800 career appearances and scoring 70 goals from defence.
Position: Right Winger
Kieron Morris is a tricky winger who enjoys cutting in on his stronger left foot. He has registered the most goal involvements for Rovers this season with two goals and two assists in his 15 appearances so far. Prior to his move to Prenton Park, Morris had spent his entire career with Walsall FC, graduating to the senior team in 2012 and going on to make 171 appearances for the Saddlers until his departure in 2019. He scored 20 goals and assisted a further 12 during this period, however, it was split up by five loan moves to Worcester City, Leamington, ÍBV Vestmannaeyjar in Iceland, Wrexham and Tranmere Rovers. Following his final loan and subsequent transfer, Morris has made 130 appearances for Rovers, winning the fan’s Player of the Season award in 2019/20 and going from strength to strength.
Elliott Nevitt went down as one of the more surprising and controversial signings last summer after jumping up from Warrington Rylands to the Football League. For context, Rylands play at the same level of the English football pyramid as Crawley Down Gatwick, Hassocks FC, Horsham YMCA, Broadbridge Heath and Lingfield FC to name a few. Having said that, Rylands were crowned the best team at that level of football in the country last May, winning the FA Vase at Wembley Stadium over Berkshire-based Binfield FC. It was this game that set Nevitt’s career in motion as he took centre stage, netting a hattrick on the hallowed turf and winning the competition for Rylands. He earned a one-year deal and, most importantly, a chance to prove himself in the professional game and things seem to be going well.
HEAD TO HEAD
In our last nine against the Super White Army, our meetings have averaged 3.9 goals, with there only being less than two goals in one of these recent clashes. Both teams have scored in five of these contests.
Earlier this season, Crawley lost narrowly in league action to Tranmere, with veteran defender Peter Clarke scoring a brace as the Reds were unable to stop him from set-pieces. Kwesi Appiah was the Crawley scorer on the day and levelled the scoreline for just fifteen minutes until the home side regained their lead.
Last season we took six points from six off Tranmere, keeping two clean sheets in two marvellous performances both home and away. Crawley defeated the Whites 4-0 at The People’s Pension Stadium in October 2020, when goals from Max Watters, Tom Nichols and Jordan Tunnicliffe meant that we led by three at the break. Substitute Tyler Frost added a fourth with fifteen minutes to play in a dominant home display against a side that were backed for promotion.
We then travelled up to Prenton Park for the away battle in March of this year, again heading into the game as underdogs. Crawley played some magnificent football throughout and were rewarded with a Tom Nichols strike which followed a sequence of magic. Nichols’ flicked effort whilst on the turn was voted as League Two’s goal of the month for March, a deserved award for Tom who had such a brilliant debut season as a Red.
LAST SEASON’S FIRST ROUND
The drama of our 2020/21 FA Cup First Round tie against Torquay may never be topped. Eleven goals, extra-time, a frightening injury and over twenty minutes of added time… 5-6 the clash ended, thanks to a hat-trick from Tom Nichols and efforts from Max Watters, Jordan Tunnicliffe and an Ashley Nadesan winner in the last minute of the game.
Torquay started brightly as the Reds looked submissive to waves of yellow attack, Aaron Nemane, now of Notts County, and Ben Whitfield, now of Stockport, scored before the 25 minute mark, as many would have written Crawley out of the tie before the half-time whistle. Stuart Nelson replaced Tom McGill between the sticks after the young goalkeeper was knocked unconscious by a Torquay player, which meant the game came to a stop for around twenty minutes.
Fortunately, McGill was rushed to hospital and recovered quickly, suffering no long-term damage. In the 83rd minute, Reds were awarded a penalty when Ashley Nadesan was tripped, and Tom Nichols converted calmly, scoring his first of the afternoon. Time dragged on as Crawley transformed into the dominant force, and with over twenty minutes of added time indicated, Max Watters found an equaliser in the 104th minute of normal time.
Three minutes later, substitute Josh Umerah netted what looked like a certain winner against the run of play, but the game was taken to extra-time when out of nowhere, Jordan Tunnicliffe found himself at the back post in the 111th minute to equalise in unbelievable fashion.
Torquay led by two again in extra time courtesy of two Asa Hall penalties, and with the clock showing only twelve minutes to play, another comeback seemed nearly impossible.
Tom Nichols popped up with another goal in the 108th minute, before magnificently equalising just five minutes after, as the clock read seven minutes to play. Both sides threw everything at each other but it was the Pirlo-esque pass of Nichols who found Nadesan that saw the winner fly past Lucas Covolan. Drama of the highest level and a match that will never be forgotten.