Last updated at 15:00, Saturday 17th December 2011

No Day break for Rovers


Mike Holden
League One - weekend preview
2pts Stevenage to keep a clean sheet against Tranmere at 8/5 (Coral)Boro have shut out eight of their last ten opponents and Rovers are struggling for goals.

They've come a long way in a short space of time but those who questioned whether Stevenage have what it takes to sustain their efforts of the past two years by holding their own at League One level should now have their answer.

Graham Westley's men head into Saturday's game against Tranmere backed-up by a ten-match unbeaten run but it's not the odds-on quotes about the home win that appeal to us. We much prefer the 8/5 you can get about Stevenage to keep a clean sheet with Coral.

A goalless stalemate at Preston last weekend was their third successive 0-0 in league action, which in itself should explain why we're turning our noses up at the 19/20 available on the home win, but more significantly, it was their ninth shut-out of the campaign, eight of which have arrived in those last ten outings.

It's a sure-fire indication that Boro have overcome the sense of uncertainty that comes with adapting to new surroundings and it also proves that Westley's unique and much-maligned tactical methods are scalable because he's hardly broken the bank to improve his squad since winning promotion from the basement via the play-offs last May, bringing in just two permanent additions.

Opponents at this level are finding the impervious Chris Day every bit as difficult to breach, and the groans from opposing managers are becoming every bit as frequent amid accusations of time-wasting and gamesmanship.

But until somebody comes up with a systematic way to outwit their uncompromising style and provide a template for others to follow, then credit must go to Westley and his backroom staff for finding an edge because their success over the past two-and-a-half years is no mean feat.

At full strength, Tranmere share many of the same qualities to their hosts - a fact best illustrated by their position at the top of the clean sheet table - and this match might not be pleasant viewing for the purists. But the visitors' best efforts were to be witnessed a couple of months ago and the season now appears to be tailing off somewhat alarmingly for Les Parry's men.

The Merseysiders have lost five of their last six matches as they face up to a period without goalkeeper Owain Fon Williams who is expected to be out for two months while he recovers from a broken hand.

The experienced Paul Rachubka has been brought in as a replacement but question marks remain over his confidence following his part in Leeds' 5-0 humiliation at home to Blackpool two months ago and his rehabilitation will hardly be helped by the absence of Ian Goodison and the concession of five goals in his first two matches.

At this point, we're in danger of talking ourselves into a bet on Stevenage but they lack the death-or-glory attitude to be trusted at such short prices and the value is definitely to be found on the shut-out.

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