On Friday March 3, mid-table Chester host promotion hopefuls Tranmere Rovers in front of the BT cameras.
The tie, which boasts two teams a mere 17 miles apart, is the return fixture of a scintillating derby between the two in November of last year. Tranmere had led 2-0 at half time through goals from Andy Cook and Ben Tollitt. However a 50th minute header from Tom Shaw gave the travelling Blues hope, and their prayers were answered when centre-half Ryan Astles slammed home a thunderous strike to level the match in stoppage time.
The two teams have two completely different contrasts of form when going into Friday’s showdown. Tranmere are unbeaten in their last four matches, whereas the Blues have only won one of their last six. Rovers have gained 10 points from their last 18, Chester have only gained four. Tranmere currently sit fourth in the table and are a shoo-in to finish inside the playoff places, Chester are 11th and are most likely out of the race for the playoffs.
These facts still don’t take away from the importance of this match, however. This match is still a derby and the Blues will be desperate to get one over on Rovers, especially since they lost this exact fixture last season. Both clubs will, most likely, have their top goal scorers for this season starting. Tranmere boss Micky Mellon has Andy Cook who has bagged 17 goals this season, one of which was in the previous Tranmere vs Chester tie earlier this season. Blues boss Jon McCarthy has James Alabi, who has bagged 13 goals this campaign. McCarthy also has an in form Evan Horwood, who scored away at Southport at the weekend, alongside Sam Hughes who has produced brilliant performances in the last couple of weeks. With these facts in mind, let’s compare the stats…
THE TALE OF THE TAPE: Chester FC vs Tranmere Rovers
GOALS SCORED in 2016/17: Chester FC 52-47 Tranmere Rovers
GOALS CONCEDED in 2016/17: Chester FC 47-27 Tranmere Rovers
WINS in 2016/17: Chester FC 12-19 Tranmere Rovers
These stats mostly point in Tranmere’s favour, especially considering that Rovers have scored as many goals as Chester have conceded this season and also considering that Rovers have conceded less goals than any other team in the league in 16-17… That’s not to take away from Chester, however, who will be eager to make up for their last few performances, excluding the win away to Southport. On paper Tranmere are obvious victors at the Deva, but if Rovers fans are travelling the short journey expecting a walk in the park, then they’ve clearly forgotten that in derby matches, anything can happen.