FC Halifax Town are back at the MBi Shay Stadium this weekend, as we take a break from the Vanarama National League to concentrate on this season’s FA Cup, starting with the visit of Tranmere Rovers.
With Saturday the first of two games against Rovers in fourteen days, Micky Mellon’s side come into the game following a turn in fortune in the league campaign, after a disappointing start to their 2017/18 National League life.
Tranmere’s start to the season saw them only win one of their opening five matches, losing two and drawing two, which was somewhat unexpected considering their second-place finish at the end of last campaign.
However, Rovers have seen their luck starting to turn after picking up seven points from their last five outings. Their most recent victory came against Leyton Orient, where goals from forwards Andy Cook and James Norwood cancelled out Matt Harrold’s opener.
As for the FA Cup, Rovers have not had much in the way of success in their recent games in the competition. In their last two appearances, Tranmere have failed to reach the first round proper on both occasions, losing to both Barrow and Lincoln City.
It was last season that Barrow beat Rovers 2-1 to reach the first round proper for the first time in three years. Goals from Richie Bennett and Paul Turnbull were enough to ensure Barrow took their place in the first round over Mellon’s men.
In the season previous, Tranmere struggled in the final qualifying round once again, this time losing to Lincoln City. After a goalless draw in the first outing, it took a replay to decide Tranmere’s fate, a 2-0 defeat to leave them out of the cup.
Despite this poor cup form of recent years, Rovers’ FA Cup history is rather impressive. They have managed to reach the quarter finals of the competition on three occasions, 1999-2000, 2000-2001 and 2003-2004.
Rovers have a decent squad at their disposal, although there is one man who the Shaymen will certainly need to watch out for on Saturday. James Norwood started his career with Eastbourne Town in 2008, although it wasn’t until three years later at Forest Green Rovers where he would make a name for himself.
Norwood, during his four year stint at The New Lawn, notched 50 goals in over 160 appearances, as well as representing his country with England C seven times, where he found the net on four occasions.
Despite becoming Forest Green’s all-time top National League goal-scorer in 2015, Norwood left the club to join Tranmere just a few months later. Since then, he has managed to score 40 times in a Tranmere shirt, his most recent coming against Leyton Orient over two weeks ago.
The last time the two sides met was in December 2015 during the National League campaign, as both sides played out a 1-1 draw at the MBi Shay.
That man Norwood opened the scoring late in the first half, before Nicky Wroe replied with an equaliser just four minutes later. Town were forced to see the game out with ten men following Jordan Burrow’s late dismissal, but held out strong to ensure at least one point stayed in West Yorkshire.
The reverse fixture in August, however, was a different story for the Shaymen. Just four games into the new season and Town suffered their fourth defeat in a row, the only goal of the game coming from Andy Mangan as the Shaymen continued on a run that saw them win just the once out of their opening fourteen matches.
Tom Denton and Matty Kosylo will both miss tomorrow’s game due to suspension, with Denton starting the first of a three game and Kosylo missing one game following 5 yellow cards this season.
Scott Garner is available for selection after he completed a three match ban.
Loanee Dion Charles has permission from Fleetwood Town to play for the Shaymen in the Cup competitions this season.
Referee: Matthew Donohue
Assistants: Andrew Dallison and Alan Hull
Fourth Official: Martin Ashworth
Follow the Game
There will be live updates and commentary available on the club website and Shaymen TV.
You can also follow the action via Town’s official Twitter account, @FCHTOnline and new this week Snapchat (FCHTOnline)
Read more posts by Ben Armitage