Oxford United v Tranmere Rovers – match preview.

Oxford United v Tranmere Rovers – The match preview.
Papa John’s Trophy, Semi Final.
Tuesday 16th February 2021

Tuesday night sees Tranmere face Oxford United at the Kassam Stadium as both sides aim to stake their place in the 2021 Papa Johns Trophy final. If Rovers manage to win, they will add another Wembley appearance to the three that they racked up between 2017 and 2019 under the guidance of Scotsman Micky Mellon. In their way this time around is Karl Robinson’s Yellows who sit 7th in the division above, thus they will pose a question or two of Hill’s men.

Team news –
Rovers manager Keith Hill, who was appointed in late November 2020, stated in his pre-match meeting with the press ‘There are no new injury or COVID concerns’ before adding that ‘There is going to be a justification for team selection and bearing in mind that there are players who have done so well to get us as far as we have done, there is going to be a rich reward’.

The hosts –
Oxford United’s ‘one to watch’, going off statistics and his constant finding of a way past opposing defenders, is Matty Taylor. The local hero has provided 13 goal involvements in 28 games via all of the competitions he has featured in this campaign. Taylor, a 30-year-old bagsman who made his senior debut in 2007 after being promoted from the Yellows’ youth system, came back to the club on loan in 2019 following spells at clubs such as Forest Green Rovers and both professional Bristol outfits. He will pose many questions of the Tranmere defence if he is to feature on Tuesday, so will Olamide Shodipo and Josh Ruffels amongst others.

Officials –
The ‘man in black’ on Tuesday night will be Craig Hicks, a relatively experienced referee who will be assisted by Christopher Wade and Danny Gratton. This campaign Hicks has officiated 21 games, awarding 56 yellow cards and three reds, in competitions ranging from the bottom two divisions of the Football League and the competitions that the EFL associate with. Sam Purkiss is the selected fourth official.

Head to head –
The two clubs have met each other on 37 recorded occasions, the first being a League Division Four encounter in the mid March of 1963. Tranmere won that game, 3-0, which was played at Prenton Park. The last meeting between the two was in September 2019, in a League One campaign that was to be curtailed early; much to the frustrations of the Tranmere side, then managed by Scotsman Micky Mellon, who strongly believed that they were on course for survival before being demoted on PPG.
Tranmere wins – 11
Draws – 10
Oxford United wins – 16

My predictions –
If I’m being brutally honest, in a time where optimism should be rife, I believe that the strength and quality that Karl Robinson’s side possess will mean that Tranmere don’t go to Wembley for the fourth time since May 2017. However, it won’t be a walk in the park for the hosts as Rovers will threaten their opponents in a manner in which they believe they can do.
My team prediction? Scott Davies, Otis Khan, Peter Clarke, Manny Monthe, Calum MacDonald, Liam Feeney, Jay Spearing, Paul Lewis, Danny Lloyd, James Vaughan, Kaiyne Woolery.
My score prediction? Oxford United 2 Tranmere Rovers 1

How can you watch/listen to this cup tie?
This cup tie, unlike all other games this campaign, will only be available to watch on Sky Sports Football. If you would like to listen to the game instead of watching, you can by playing ‘TalkSport2’.

‘Meeting the opposition’ –
If you enjoyed this match preview and would like to hear more from an Oxford United fans perspective, why not do so by clicking this link? https://ethanhoijord.com/2021/02/14/meeting-the-opposition-oxford-united-f-c/

A trip down Wembley Way beckons for the winner of this game. Both sets of fans, including neutrals, should be excited.

Thank you very much for reading,
Stay safe,
Ethan Hoijord

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