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Thursday, February 04, 2010

Big Match Preview

League One
Tranmere Rovers vs. Oldham Athletic
Saturday February 6, 15:00, Prenton Park

There's a League One basement battle this weekend as struggling sides Tranmere and Oldham meet in a game crucial to both sides' survival hopes.

It's been a disastrous season for both North West clubs with Rovers having struggled throughout the campaign and the Latics sliding down the table after a start that promised more.

Even with their lowly position though, Tranmere can point to some upwards momentum as they seek to move out of the bottom four for the first time since August.

Back then the Wirral outfit were under the management of John Barnes, but the former England international experienced a miserable tenure at Prenton Park.

However, under his replacement, former club physio Les Parry, Tranny have found form which has given them a fighting chance of beating the drop to the basement division.

They're unbeaten on home soil since October, with four wins from five, and earned a credible 1-1 draw at high-flying Charlton last weekend.

Hopes of survival largely lie on the shoulders of top scorer Ian Thomas-Moore, whose seven goals so far this term have been vital to Rovers.

Goals have been the route of the problem for their opponents this weekend. With just 20 goals from their 25 games, Oldham are the lowest scorers in the division.

Tranmere boss Les Parry has revitalised the club's survival hopes

However, their lack of firepower has seen Athletic slip from just outside the play-offs early on to their current position of 21st, albeit with two games in hand on the side immediately above them.

And when you contrast their goals-for column with their defensive record - the seventh best in League One - boss Dave Penney is under no illusions where his team's problems lie.

His summer signing, Polish striker Pawel Abbott, has carried the burden on the scoring front. The former Darlington and Preston man has notched seven goals for Latics this season.

However, with just nine goals scored on the road from Boundary Park all term, Oldham are in desperate need of rediscovering some form in front of goal.

These two sides met just before Christmas, unsurprisingly cancelling one another out in a 0-0 draw. Saturday's game will be a similarly tight affair that neither can really afford to lose.

Rovers will start as favourites to win, and should continue their unbeaten record at home, however, Oldham have the strength to ensure a repeat of their result from December.

Nobes' Prediction: Tranmere Rovers 0 Oldham Athletic 0

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