THE BIG MATCH

It's top against bottom in npower League 1 on Tuesday night as Tranmere Rovers travel to Hartlepool United.

The two sides couldn't have had a more contrasting first 15 games of the season so the fixture at Victoria Park looks set to be an interesting one.

While Hartlepool have amassed just eight points from their 15 fixtures, a record which forced Neale Cooper to resign from the manager's post at the end of last month, Tranmere have picked up nearly four times that amount - 31 - to sit top of the division.

The Rovers have faltered in recent weeks, though, losing two and drawing one of their last three.

Boss Ronnie Moore is eager for his side to get back to winning ways, although the Rovers' camp certainly wont be underestimating their lowly opponents.

"If any of our players think we're going to go there and it will be easy they're in for a shock. Hartlepool at home is a difficult game for anybody, I don't care who you are.

"Because of where they are doesn't mean they're going to lay down and die. I'd imagine the caretaker manager will be hopeful of seeing a response. How often do you see 6-1 scorelines? They don't happen very often and when they do they don't happen twice in a row - there's normally a response from the team," Moore told www.tranmererovers.co.uk.

Micky Barron is the man currently in charge of affairs at rock-bottom Hartlepool and he will be hoping his players can turn it around and record the Pools' first League win since September 1st.

They will have to bounce back from a 6-1 trouncing in the FA Cup against npower League 2 Chesterfield if they are to win, though.

And Barron has laid down the challenge, he said to the Hartlepool Mail: "Sometimes there's nothing you can do as a coach or manager - it has to be the players who group together and say 'this has got to stop'.

"The only thing players can do is try to show more in the next game.

"They have to react to the criticism they're getting."

KEEP AN EYE ON

Notts County haven't lost away from home in all competitions since February 18th and they will be looking to extend that run when they visit Colchester United.

Keith Curle's men have carried their good away form from the back-end of last term into this season and have recorded four wins and three draws on the road so far.

Colchester have been impressive on home soil this season, though, so the Magpies will be up against it on Tuesday night.

The 12th-placed U's have won all their games at the Weston Homes Community Stadium under boss Joe Dunne, who replaced John Ward as manager of the Essex club in September.

And Colchester defender John White is eager to carry on that run and forget Saturday's 3-1 FA Cup defeat to Chelmsford City, telling U's Player: "You want to improve on what you did in your previous games, and if that's the loss in the cup [Colchester United were defeated 3-1 by Chelmsford in the FA Cup on Saturday] you want to go on and get the three points, and get the momentum back up, and to keep things rolling in the league."

Curle knows his side face a tough match but he's hungry to get the three points that would cement their place in the Play-Off contingent - they currently sit sixth, level on points with seventh-placed Swindon Town.

"They've got some good attacking threats, some good options, but, like most League 1 clubs, we think they've got some weaknesses that we can expose as well." Curle told Magpie Player.

ELSEWHERE IN THE DIVISION

Sheffield United remain unbeaten in npower League 1, the only side in The Football League yet to lose, and they will put that on the line against Swindon Town on Tuesday.

The Blades are second in the standings, level on points with table-topping Tranmere, so providing they better the Rovers' result, they will move up to top spot.

Swindon will be aiming to get back amongst the victories following an FA Cup defeat to Macclesfield Town, and also regain their place back in the League 1 Play-Offs.

With three points, the Robins could overtake the aforementioned Notts County, and they could even climb above fifth-placed Doncaster Rovers, but only if Dean Saunders' men fail to beat Crewe Alexandra at home.

Stevenage and Crawley Town occupy the other two places in the Play-Offs and they are away against Yeovil Town, who will be without suspended midfielder Ed Upson, and Coventry City respectively.

Milton Keynes Dons could also go into the top six if they win and other results go their way. Karl Robinson's men host Leyton Orient, who have lost five of their last six.

Another team on a poor run of form is Scunthorpe United. The Iron haven't won in their last seven and were defeated 4-0 in the FA Cup by npower League 2 leaders Gillingham last time out.

Brian Laws will be in charge for his first League game on Tuesday though, after taking over from Alan Knill, when they travel to Walsall, and that could spark a revival. Goalkeeper Steve Mildenhall could make his debut for Scunthorpe after joining on loan from Millwall.

Bury currently sit in the remaining relegation place and they will go in search of their first away win of the season when they meet Oldham Athletic. A draw or a win would take the Shakers' point tally into double figures.

Elsewhere, Preston North End and Brentford are locked on 22 points, along with Yeovil, and they face Carlisle United and Portsmouth respectively.

The remaining match in npower League 1 sees in-form Bournemouth go head-to-head with Shrewsbury Town, who have one win in eight.

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