Football: Nationwide League: Smith wary of Rovers' bite

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THE WEST Bromwich Albion manager, Denis Smith, has warned his steadily improving side that they must be wary of Tranmere Rovers' impressive away form ahead of their meeting at The Hawthorns today.

The Baggies registered an impressive 3-0 victory at Huddersfield last week, which included a 24th goal of the season for their in-form striker, Lee Hughes.

Tranmere are languishing in the bottom half of the table, but Smith is determined not to take the Merseysiders for granted. "If you look at their away record, they have only been beaten twice on their League travels so far this season," he said.

The Birmingham defender, Gary Rowett, feels his side's best hope of causing an upset against Sunderland at St Andrew's, is to take the game to the runaway League leaders. "It's no good sitting back against them; we've got to make them uncomfortable," he said.

Bradford City's captain, Stuart McCall, has emphasised the need for the Bantams to reproduce their fine away form at Valley Parade if they are to maintain their promotion push.

City, who have won five away matches, entertain Wolves and McCall said: "We're delighted to have won five away games, but we must make the most of our home matches."

Third-placed Watford travel to Grimsby on the back of a 10-match unbeaten run and the Mariners' assistant manager, John Cockerill, admitted: "We know we are in for a hard game."

Gary Megson, the Stockport County manager, is delighted to have the on- loan Chelsea midfielder, Paul Hughes, who has played 20 first-team games for the Blues, available to make his debut against troubled Oxford United at Edgeley Park.

Bolton's manager, Colin Todd, does not reckon Portsmouth's forced sale of their top scorer, John Aloisi, to Coventry will improve his side's chances of victory that much. "Whoever comes in to replace him will be trying twice as hard to keep themselves in the frame," Todd reasoned. Luke Nightingale, 17, is likely to take Aloisi's place at the Reebok Stadium.

The Huddersfield manager, Peter Jackson, has expressed frustration over his side's erratic performances ahead of their match with the bottom-club, Crewe, at Gresty Road. "There is no consistency from the team," he complained. "One match we turn it on and the next we are rubbish."

Crewe's manager, Dario Gradi, is worried about the threat of his former player, Rob Edwards, who is now with the Terriers. "I'm hoping he catches flu," Gradi joked.

The Bury manager, Neil Warnock, is upbeat about his side's chances against Port Vale at Vale Park. "Vale are hard at home, but have had a lean time since selling Gareth Ainsworth," he said. Vale have lost seven of their last eight games and manager John Rudge admitted: "We're like a steamroller going downhill at the moment."

Mick Turner must wait to see if he regains his place in the Barnsley attack against Swindon at Oakwell despite scoring the winner at Ipswich last week.

Selhurst Park witnesses the clash of the former Tottenham managers as Gerry Francis's Queen's Park Rangers take on Terry Venables' Crystal Palace.

Bristol City will be hoping to take something from their visit to Norwich to ease their relegation plight.