A clash of two clubs who are in League One thanks to a promotion under Micky Mellon.

Tranmere Rovers completed back-to-back Play-Off successes under the spirited Scot, who also took Shrewsbury Town – now led by Sam Ricketts – up to this level back in 2014-15.

 

Tranmere’s mixed start

Having been a non-league club in the previous calendar year, it seems a big ask for Tranmere to adjust to life in the third-tier on and off the field – although they have excellent leaders at the helm in Mark and Nicola Palios.

Perhaps one of the main reasons to believe that they can compete is that they are never completely out of a game.

In trips to Portsmouth, Oxford and Ipswich, they started competitively but perhaps lacked the killer instinct and thus saw the game swing away from them in the second half in deceptively-scorelined 2-0, 3-0 and 4-1 defeats respectively.

In other games, though, like the 2-1 win over Burton, the 1-1 draw at Rotherham and the 2-2 draw with Gillingham, they have been behind late in the game and fought back to salvage a positive result.

Nine points from their first 10 games is not the ideal Rovers return but there is reason to think that, when more of the nine players who missed parts of September return from injury, they can start to establish a more stable position.

 

Can 3-5-2 work for Shrews?

Shrewsbury Town manager Sam Ricketts faced an element of scrutiny for his loyalty to the 3-5-2 formation, after last week’s 3-0 home loss to Fleetwood.

It’s hard to say how much that defeat was down to systems, though, because Salop had their chances in the first half thanks to Callum Lang’s lively running.

In the second, they were of course completely outplayed but it was not like that happened because of a particular tactical issue – it was more because Fleetwood produced a level of incision in their passing and movement that would be very difficult for any team in this league to handle.

The big question is whether Shrewsbury can get close to that quality of interplay and it is proving difficult for Ricketts to get the balance right – especially with wing-back options in Donald Love, Shaun Whalley, Ryan Giles and Scott Golbourne, who all specialize in one area of the game but are not so comfortable in others.

 

The Tactics Board

Sam Ricketts’ side have three powerful centre-backs in Ro-Shaun Williams, Ethan Ebanks-Landell and Aaron Pierre who are all brilliant at defending their penalty area, but not so comfortable in possession – although Pierre will be competing with the more technical Omar Beckles to start on the left of the back-three.

Shrewsbury often need one of their midfielders, either Sean Goss or fit again Oli Norburn, to drop deep to collect the ball, which leaves them short of options further up the pitch and this can affect the tempo of their attacking play.

Tranmere tend to be clinical in the latter stages of games, but when they launch their all-energy attacks in first halves, they do not have as much success.

That may be because, although they have territorial control during those periods, they are still facing fully structured rear-guards and perhaps lack the technical ability to thrive in those situations – we can expect Shrewsbury’s defence will give away few freebies early on.

 

The Betting Angle

Tranmere have only scored three first-half goals all season, while Shrewsbury have bagged just two before the interval.

Our best bet, therefore, is the 21/20 on the first half at Prenton Park to be drawn.

Tip: First half draw

Odds are correct at the time of posting

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