We turn our attentions to the last day of the season with a full and in-depth preview of our National League trip to Prenton Park.
Tranmere Rovers v Hartlepool United
Vanarama National League
Saturday 28th April 2018, 12.30pm
Tranmere Rovers have already secured their spot as runners-up in this season’s National League and will now eagerly await their opponents in the semi-final of the play-offs.
This term’s new play-off system means Rovers will be guaranteed home advantage in a one-off semi-final to be played against the winners of the tie played between whoever finished fourth and seventh.
As a result, Prenton Park boss Micky Mellon opted to fully rotate his starting line-up for Tuesday’s trip to Solihull Moors with a host of fringe and Youth Team players called in for the 2-1 defeat.
It’s the second season in a row that Rovers have qualified for the play-offs and they’ll be hoping they can wipe away the heartache suffered twelve months ago when they were beaten by Forest Green Rovers in the Final at Wembley.
There is set to be a carnival atmosphere on the Wirral for Saturday’s game with hundreds of fancy dress clowns making the trip from Pools to join Tranmere fans who have been invited to don retro shirts for the day.
One To Watch
Andy Cook has enjoyed a brilliant time with Tranmere Rovers since making the switch to Prenton Park in the summer of 2016.
Having been snapped up from Barrow, Cook hit the ground running last term and scored 24 times as Rovers came agonisingly close to reclaiming their place in the EFL.
He’s already got 27 this time around, including an eye-watering nine in his last six outings, so Pools will have to be on red alert to keep the 27-year-old under wraps this weekend.
Tranmere Rovers: WWWWWL
Head To Head
Saturday’s game will be the 126th competitive meeting between the sides and Tranmere have the edge after enjoying 57 victories in comparison to Pools’ 40 over the years.
Games between the teams have proved close in recent times though and the last three encounters have ended in draws, including October’s 1-1 draw at The Vic when Nicky Deverdics’ thunderbolt free-kick was cancelled out by Jay McEveley.
Pools have a good recent record at Prenton Park too – they’ve not lost in any of their last five visits to Birkenhead and will hope to extend that run this weekend.
Sam Purkiss will take charge of his fourth Pools game of the season when he’s the man in the middle for this weekend’s last day encounter at Prenton Park.
Another of the officials in his first season on the National League list of referees, Purkiss last saw Pools in action as recently as last month when he presided over our 2-1 win at Maidstone United.
However, his previous two occasions on the whistle at Pools fixtures haven’t been as memorable – he was on the whistle for our away defeats at Dagenham in January and Ebbsfleet in November.
His most recent outing came last weekend when he oversaw Aldershot Town’s 1-1 draw with Barrow, a game in which he produced his sixth red card of the campaign.
We’ll be linking-up with our friends at BBC Tees to provide live commentary for Pools PlayerHD subscribers all over the world.
If you can’t get to Prenton Park on Saturday then make sure you join us for full online coverage to keep right up to date with the action against Rovers.
Pools fans can make a saving by heading online to buy in advance for Saturday’s game – click here now.
Tickets will also be available on the day of the game but prices will rise by £2.