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3:00pm - SaturdaySat 8th AugustAug 2015
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Tranmere Rovers
Tranmere Rovers
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Cards face tough opening day test

Brian Caffarey
7:10pm, Thu 6th Aug 2015
Tranmere Rovers v Woking
Vanarama National League
3pm on Saturday 8 August 2015

The Cards couldn’t have been handed a much tougher opening day fixture as they travel to Tranmere Rovers, tipped by many to make a swift return to the Football League. Managed by Gary Brabin, who has held the reins at Luton, Cambridge and Southport, they won’t be under any illusions about what to expect in the Conference and can be expected to provide a very testing afternoon for Garry Hill’s side.


Garry Hill has made no secret of the fact that he believes that the Cards over-achieved last season in finishing in 7th place when you compare the Club’s resources with those of many of its rivals. And the signs are that the gap may have increased over the summer, with clubs such as Eastleigh and Forest Green Rovers continuing their spending sprees, whilst Garry will almost certainly have to operate with a smaller squad. On top of that, he has had to cope with a bigger turnover of players than in the previous summer, losing the highly experienced Adam Newton, Kevin Betsy and John Nutter through retirements, and Josh Payne, James Clarke and Joe McNerney to other clubs.

Garry’s defensive signings look promising, however, with the experienced duo of Ismail Yakubu and Brian Saah forming a new centre back partnership, whilst Jake Caprice has every opportunity to make the right back position his own. Ex-Braintree Town’s Nick Hamann will provide competition for Jake Cole in goal.

Godfrey Poku has arrived to reinforce a midfield, which looks potentially strong, with the skilful Keiran Murtagh, John Goddard and Joey Jones available, plus of course redoubtable captain Mark Ricketts if he is not deployed on defensive duties.

As usual, getting reinforcements up front has proved the most difficult task, although many clubs will envy the fact that Garry can continue to call on Scott Rendell to lead the line. Cards fans will be hoping that additions won’t be too long delayed.


Tranmere’s fall down the football hierarchy has been swift and brutal. As recently as 2000 they appeared in the Football League Cup Final but two successive relegations have seen them drop out of the League. Ex-FA Chief Mark Palios took over the club during last season but could not prevent relegation. He has managed to lure Brabin from a coaching role at Everton to mastermind what fans will be hoping is a repeat of Bristol Rovers’ achievement last season in securing an immediate return to the League.

Not surprisingly, there have been many changes in the Tranmere squad. New arrivals include experienced strikers Anthony Mangan, who has previously won the Conference title with Fleetwood Town and scored 10 goals for Shrewsbury Town last season as they won promotion from League 2, and England C international James Norwood, joining from Forest Green Rovers, plus Johnny Margetts from Hull City. Midfield additions include Lois Maynard, who scored 12 goals for FC Halifax Town last season, and Jay Harris from Wrexham. In defence Brabin has brought in Martin Riley, a commanding centre back from Mansfield Town, who has previously appeared for Kidderminster Harriers, Cheltenham Town and Wrexham. His most recent signing is ex-Shot Adam Mekki, who had spells at Barnet and Dover Athletic last term.


Tranmere Rovers FC
Prenton Park
Prenton Road West
CH42 9PY

Official website:

By coach

Ring the Club Shop on 01483 772470 to find out if there are any places left on the Cards Trust coach. It departs at 8am and costs £30 for Members, £35 for Non-Members, and £15/£18 for Under 16s. Please note that Under 16s must be accompanied by an adult, with a maximum of two Under 16s travelling with one adult.

By car

The Tranmere Rovers official site gives the following directions by car for fans travelling from the south: M6, M56 and M53 to J4. Take the fourth exit from the roundabout onto the B5151 (Mount Road). Continue for 2.5 miles when Mount Road becomes Storeton Road and turn right onto Prenton Road West at traffic lights. The ground is on the righthand side in 200 yards.

As regards parking, the website offers the following information: There is a very large car park at the ground which costs £5 per car per game. Car park tickets can be purchased in advance from the Ticket Office on 03330144452 and online at Beware of a residents parking scheme which is in operation around on many roads around the ground.

By train

Take the train to Liverpool Lime Street. The quickest route is direct from Euston but you may find cheaper options e.g. by travelling via Crewe. Check out or

The Tranmere official site gives the following advice for getting to the ground from Lime Street: Head for the Wirral Line lower level station and board a New Brighton or West Kirby train to Conway Park, or an Ellesmere Port or Chester train to Birkenhead Central or Rock Ferry.
From Conway Park: Turn right outside the station and walk 100 yards to Birkenhead Bus Station.
From Birkenhead Central: Cross Argyle Street and walk along Borough Road, which runs parallel to the flyover. The ground is approximately a 30-minute walk.
From Rock Ferry: The ground is a 15-minute walk. Turn right outside the station onto Bedford Road. Continue along Bedford Avenue and Bedford Drive until you reach a road junction shortly after Prenton High School. Continue onto Mount Road and turn right at the first set of traffic lights onto Borough Road - the ground is five minutes on the left.


Willow Catering Stand (away supporters only) - behind the goal, facilities: fast food, licensed bar, toilets, Family Friendly Area (*Under-12s require tickets and must be accompanied):

Adults £17
Seniors (65+) £10
Young Persons (17-22) £10
Under-17 £5
Under-12 (must be accompanied) £2


The Cards travelled to Prenton Park in the First Round of the FA Cup on 11 November 2006, going down 4-2, with the Woking goals scored by Simon Jackson and Craig McAllister. The Woking side that day was: Shwan Jalal, Simon Jackson, Karim El-Salahi, Tom Hutchinson, Neil Smith (Steve Evans), Gary MacDonald (Saheed Sankoh), Karl Murray, Craig McAllister, Ollie Berquez, Steve Ferguson, Giuseppe Sole.


The Cards’ first home game is on Tuesday 11 August when newly-promoted Bromley are the visitors. The Cards are also at home on Saturday 15 August when Altrincham visit Kingfield.

There’s a very attractive offer on hospitality in the Geoff Chapple Lounge covering the first four home games: see the news item dated 24 July.

Come on, you Cards!

Rendell injury blow in opening day defeat for Cards

Malcolm Wyatt
10:03am, Sun 9th Aug 2015
Tranmere Rovers 1 Woking 0
The Vanarama National League
August 8th 2015

A new-look Woking side slipped to a slim defeat and lost top striker Scott Rendell to injury in sunny Birkenhead on the opening Saturday of the season.

The result was by no means a dead loss for the Cards though, and Garry Hill’s side can be proud of their efforts in a game of few clear-cut chances at Prenton Park.

In the end, they were undone by a quality 25-yard free-kick from Jay Harris, the home midfielder - one of the first signings for new boss Gary Brabin, having joined from Wrexham - firing past the visitors’ wall and keeper Jake Cole 13 minutes into the second half.

Meanwhile, Woking’s Rendell, arguably the most feared striker in the newly-renamed National League, appeared to suffer a knee injury late in the first half after a robust challenge, and was stretchered off to warm applause from the 5,583 attendance.

How much of a lay-off follows depends on a scan early next week. But while that’s a worry for the Cards, there were plenty of positives to be taken from this long trek to the Wirral.

Hill’s side – including six new faces - gave as good as their full-time hosts, newly relegated from League Two, on a baking afternoon, although they perhaps missed that killer touch.

Late signing Bruno Andrade, Jake Caprice and Ismail Yakubu impressed on their full debuts, while Kadel Daniel had a promising late run-out from the bench, with fellow new boys Godfrey Poku and Nick Hamann watching on from the sidelines.

In an early visitors' attack, home keeper Scott Davies collected with Rendell loitering, following a Chris Arthur cross, while in Rovers’ best opening no one could capitalise on Liam Ridehalgh's cross.

Harris then tested Cole from distance, while the busy John Goddard was almost in but didn't get enough power in his drill, the hosts looking exposed.

Goddard was starting to make in-roads as Tranmere struggled to settle, but on a home break Cole had to punch away a Harris free-kick, while Michael Ihiekwe booted over another half-chance.

Cole had to be quick off his line to deny Ridehalgh in the air, while as Woking countered, Kieran Murtagh shot over.

Debutants Andrade and Caprice were starting to harry Rovers’ defence from the wing, while Goddard got in a stronger strike but was deemed offside as his effort struck the underside of the crossbar.

Chris Arthur's left-wing industry led to a corner, and while Goddard's centre was too long, Andrade played back in and Goddard won another. But this time home skipper Steven Jennings cleared.

A Goddard free-kick was headed on target by Yakubu, but while Rovers cleared and countered, the same man – pretty solid in central defence alongside Brian Saah - was quickly back to return safely to Cole.

Lois Maynard worked hard on Rovers' left but finally ran out of steam after two challenges, while Rendell failed to chip the keeper as Woking hit back, Kieran Murtagh playing him in, the flag raised anyway.

Cole got down well to the next speculative home shot on goal, but then came that injury following a Ridehalgh free-kick for a push 30 yards out, Rendell going down under the challenge of Ritchie Sutton.

A long delay followed – including a welcome drinks break - before Rendell was carried off, Giuseppe Sole taking his place.

As Woking regrouped, Murtagh had to mop up as Jennings and Ihiekwe looked to find a way through on the right of the area, while from another Ridehalgh cross the hosts appealed for a penalty as James Norwood went down in the area, the referee waving the protests away.

Goddard won another corner, but again Rovers finally got the ball away, while in the last chance of the first half, the same roving midfielder lost out to Davies after a Murtagh delivery.

Half-time: Tranmere Rovers 0 Woking 0

Rovers seemed to have more fire about them from there, and won a corner more or less from the restart, but Garry Hill's side held their line, Cole palming away from a Harris delivery, the hosts starting to turn the screw following a sweeping move.

Andrade was almost in as Woking countered, only just off target as he looked to lose his markers. But Brabin's side were coming in waves, and Cole Stockton shot over after Norwood's shot was blocked and the visitors only half-cleared.

An uncharacteristic chipped Sole free-kick from distance lacked power, Davies untroubled, and soon Rovers had a dangerous free-kick of their own, 25 yards out.

They seemed to labour at it, but you had the feeling that it was all part of the act, a couple of short passes setting up Harris, who let fly, a mighty roar erupting around Prenton Park as it shook the net.

The Cards fought on, Caprice's deep cross cut back by Goddard, but Murtagh was unable to find enough space to continue.

Goddard was back to stop the next home attack with a well-timed clearance, and Hill soon made a further change, Andrade making way for Kadel Daniel for the final quarter.

He was soon part of a promising attack with Joey Jones and Goddard down the right, but Rovers stood their ground, and another long-range Sole free-kick was easily blocked.

As Tranmere countered, home sub and ex-Aldershot player Adam Mekki crossed, but no one could get near his delivery, the Cards soon making a final change as Reece Beckles replaced Caprice, who had also put in a promising shift without reward.

Daniel showed a little pace on the right to win a throw-in, but again Rovers cleared, Ridehalgh again threatening with a free-kick as the minutes began to slip away.

There was still time for one last Sole free-kick, but this time it cleared the wall and kept rising into the stand, where it was comfortably caught by one of the 170 travelling faithful.

There was no disgrace in defeat though, and Woking should certainly have learned from the experience of this difficult opener against a title contender.

Tranmere: Scott Davies, Ritchie Sutton, Liam Ridehalgh, Steven Jennings (c), Liam Hogan, Jay Harris, James Norwood (Adam Mekki 64), Lois Maynard, Michael Ihiekwe, Matt Hill, Cole Stockton

Subs not used: Iain Turner, Andy Mangan, Martin Riley, Jonny Margetts

Goal: Jay Harris (58)

No bookings

Woking: Jake Cole, Jake Caprice (Reece Beckles 79), Chris Arthur, Mark Ricketts (c), Brian Saah, Ismail Yakubu, Joey Jones, Keiran Murtagh, Scott Rendell (Giuseppe Sole 41), John Goddard, Bruno Andrade (Kadel Daniel 67)

Subs not used: Godfrey Poku, Nick Hamann

No bookings

Attendance: 5,583 (170 from Woking)

My MOTM: John Goddard – a typical hard-working shift from this ever-diligent roving midfielder, and on another day he may have sneaked a goal.
Tranmere Rovers LINEUP
1Scott Davies
2Ritchie Sutton
3Liam Ridehalgh
4Steven Jennings
5Liam Hogan
8Jay Harris
10James Norwood ('64)
11Lois Maynard
12Michael Ihiekwe
16Matt Hill
18Cole Stockton
13Liam Turner
14Andy Mangan
15Martin Riley
17Adam Mekki ('64)
19Jonny Margetts
1Jake Cole
2Jake Caprice ('80)
3Chris Arthur
4Mark Rickettsts
5Brian Saah
6Ismail Yakubu
7Joey Jones
8Keiran Murtagh
11John Goddard
15Bruno Andrade ('68)
9Scott Rendell ('42)
18Nick Hamann
12Godfrey Poku
14Reece Beckles ('80)
10Giuseppe Sole ('42)
16Kadell Daniel ('68)

Tranmere Rovers 1 - 0 Woking (Garry Hill Interview)

Tranmere Rovers 1 - 0 Woking (Bruno Andrade Interview)

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Registered office The Laithwaite Community Stadium, Kingfield, Woking, Surrey, GU22 9AA

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