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Thursday, 13 February 2014

The Inside Line: Tranmere Rovers (15/02/2014)

Following on from a remarkable and totally unexpected victory at high-flying Leyton Orient on Tuesday night, City return to Ashton Gate action for the first in a run of four games which, on paper, look very ‘winnable’.

Boss Steve Cotterill has labelled this as the biggest match of our season and it’s hard to argue with that. The three points in midweek have left City sitting in the relatively lofty position of 17th, and whilst others beneath them have games in hand, a win against Tranmere would provide a genuine feeling of confidence around the whole club that a relegation battle might just be won, perhaps even comfortably!

Stu Radnedge talks to Rovers fan, writer and broadcaster, Paul Harper, to find out how the Merseysiders are gearing up for Saturday’s showdown.

In terms of proverbial six-pointers, this is certainly one for both teams. What’s the mood like with the team and your fans at the moment? Do you deserve to be in the position you are in?
It's an important game for both sides. We could really do with a victory on Saturday but it will be a difficult and nervy affair. The team haven't been playing too well of late and there is a mood of apathy among the supporters. There's not been too much to get excited about and it's been a very flat atmosphere in the last few weeks.

Like City, your next three games (a trip to Crawley and home games against Coventry and Oldham) involve teams in the bottom half of the table.  How important are your next four matches?
The next few weeks are massive for us. Get some good results and we pull away from the danger zone and it looks a lot better, fail to do that and we're in deep deep trouble.

You said when you last were interviewed by the Exiled Robin that Ryan Lowe is "a goal scorer" and he certainly is proving just that, having found the net 16 times this season. Is he your main threat and do you have anyone else to watch out for?
Ryan Lowe has been our only goal threat this season to be honest! He's been different class since joining, I have been really impressed by him. You want others to contribute and especially from midfield but goals have been few and far between in those departments. The defenders have scored a couple recently from set pieces but in terms of open play, Lowey is definitely the main threat.

How is the club's security faring with talks of it being up for sale in November? Are we any nearer a resolution?
Answers on a postcard! It seems that Peter Johnson would like to sell the club and release his involvement at the end of the season, but who knows what is going on with any possible takeover.

The supporters trust declared their interest but haven't really got the funds. There have been rumours of other interested parties but nothing has materialised yet so it's very much up in the air. It is worrying because if Peter Johnson steps down at the end of the season, I don't know what will happen at the club if no new buyer can be found.

City's victory against Orient on Tuesday night should give the home side a huge boost. Who do you fear most when the sides meet on Saturday?
That was a great result at Orient in midweek, and no doubt you will be buoyed by that victory. I look at the forwards you have and Jay Emmanuel Thomas impressed me at Prenton Park. You have two good loan players too in Wade Elliott and Tyrone Barnett who will need us to keep a close eye on. But you have good players throughout the side, you should not be near the bottom given the quality of the individuals in your squad, in my opinion.

The weather is causing a real backlog in fixtures for some clubs. Your next match against Crawley is almost certain to be postponed based on recent history!? With that many games left to play for some of the clubs down the bottom, do you feel it creates a false presentation of the clubs nearer the bottom, and will this work in Tranmere's favour?
Haha, yeah Crawley have got a bit of catching up to do! I'd rather have the points on the board but the reality is that Tranmere still need a good few points, whether the games are spread out or come thick or fast. It might give us a bit of an advantage, I certainly hope it does!

Getting nearer to the end of the season, where do you see yourself finishing?
I'm just hoping that we are safe before the last game of the season. My nerves could not take it! We do have some good players and the frustrating thing is seeing how well we can play at times, but the consistency has not been there at all and we can look good for 20 mins and then awful for the remaining 70! There's been no happy medium. I'll say we'll finish 16th.

Can I get a score prediction for Saturday's game please?
It will be a tough game for us, but for some reason I fancy us to get something. Would be happy with a draw but think we might sneak it. Call it wishful thinking!

My thanks to Paul for answering Stu’s questions. It's a massive occasion so get to the Gate and get behind the team - this could be a really critical few games.


The Exiled Robin

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