Little hopeful of overturning Hartlepool lead

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The Independent Football

The Tranmere Rovers manager, Brian Little, goes into tonight's play-off semi-final second leg with Hartlepool at Prenton Park believing his side's two-goal deficit is not irretrievable.

Two Adam Boyd goals at Victoria Park put Pools in the driving set for a place in the League One final at the Millennium Stadium. Having finished third in the table and beaten Hartlepool twice in the league, Little accepts that it was a frustrating result but is adamant his team are still in the tie and that Martin Scott's team do not hold an insurmountable advantage.

He said: "It's a disappointing scoreline and we can't deny that but we have to win the game and beat them 2-0 to try and take it a little bit further.

"We know what we've got to do. It's there. They have the advantage, we accept that, but we're capable of beating teams 2-0 at home so we've just got to roll our sleeves up and see if we can do it.

"It's a challenge to us and they have something to hang on to obviously, which will motivate them a little bit more, but we know what we've got to do and we'll try hard to do that.

"It might not happen but we've got to do it. We've given them a start and we've got a difficult task but it's not an impossible task and we'll give it a real good go."

Little has hinted he may tinker with his team selection and formation despite being fairly content with his gameplan in the North-East. The Rovers manager has regularly chopped and changed his team this term and added: "I don't think we're out of it. We might have a little tweak, We often do that anyway."

Little, who guided Leicester to the Premiership through the play-offs in 1994, feels the Rovers fans have a big part to play at Prenton Park.

"The big help to the fans would be if we score a goal early in the game but the supporters are going to be important to us," Little said. "They've helped us all season and I'm sure they'll do the same against Hartlepool."

Despite his side's two-goal advantage, the Hartlepool captain, Micky Barron, was keen to strike a note of caution.

The right-back, who was restored to the starting line-up for Friday's first-leg victory after a season blighted by injury and a loss of form, is wary given the club's record in the end-of-season deciders.

They were beaten at the semi-final stage of last season's Second Division play-offs by Bristol City and have failed to gain promotion by this route five times in the last six years.

"I don't want to count how many games we had gone without a win in the play-offs," Barron said. "We'd have taken 2-0 before the game but it is only half-time. I've played plenty of games where we've been 2-0 up at half-time and ended up getting beaten."

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