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Match Preview: Sunderland have lost their last two - will they turn it around against Tranmere?

Sunderland welcome Tranmere Rovers to the Stadium of Light tonight looking to bounce back after consecutive league defeats. Can Phil Parkinson grab his first win as Sunderland boss?

Wycombe Wanderers v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Phil Parkinson will make his home bow at the Stadium of Light on Tuesday as Sunderland look for a response after back-to-back league defeats. The Black Cats were abject against Wycombe Wanderers, registering just one shot on target in the whole game, and despite it being very early into his tenure, Parkinson will know his side must get back on track with a win.

Opponents Tranmere Rovers currently languish in 19th but pulled off an impressive smash-and-grab victory against Coventry City in their last away fixture. As Sunderland fall further behind the promotion pack, a win against the Super Whites is an absolute must.

Wycombe Wanderers v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Parky Says...

We have a huge run of games now and it’s important we put in a good performance tomorrow night. I have a good understanding of the squad; Saturday was tough, and we must be more effective with our play.

We have got no divine right. We must earn it. The name of the club won’t give us the points. We have got to improve, keep clean sheets and be more effective.

We have got to accept how teams will set-up against us. We have got to play with energy, raise the intensity level and make sure it’s a real front foot performance.

Wycombe Wanderers v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Team News

Striker Charlie Wyke will miss the game against Tranmere after picking up an ankle injury at Wycombe. The former Bradford City man was taken off at half-time on Saturday after damaging his ankle ligaments and is now set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines. His absence will most likely see Will Grigg return to the starting XI.

Grigg’s inclusion will require a re-think in terms of playing style. While Parkinson favours a direct approach, more suited to Wyke, he will have to make adjustments to get the best of Sunderland’s big-money signing. Parkinson will also be without Aiden McGeady who is missing through suspension.

Wycombe Wanderers v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

View From The Opposition

After that unexpected win at Coventry, Tranmere struggled against lowly Southend Untied and needed an 85th-minute penalty to salvage a point against the Essex side. It summed up the Super Whites’ season which at times has promised so much, only to fall back due to poor results.

Micky Mellon’s men have secured impressive results this campaign beating Burton Albion, walloping Bolton Wanderers and coming back from two goals down to draw with Peterborough United. However, this has been coupled with disappointing home defeats to Rochdale and Shrewsbury Town.

Rovers’ win at St Andrew’s was the Merseyside team’s first success away from home this campaign. Mellon will once again be looking to top goalscorer Stefan Payne to provide a little bit of magic, Payne has already netted four league goals this campaign, including that last-minute winner against Burton.

Ipswich Town v Tranmere Rovers - Sky Bet League One Photo by Hannah Fountain - CameraSport via Getty Images

Match Stats

Venue: Stadium of Light, Sunderland
Kick-off: 7.45pm
Referee: Carl Boyseon
Current position: 19th
Last season position: 6th (League Two)

Last 5 results:

SAFC

(L1) Wycombe Wanderers (A) 0-1
(LT) Grimsby Town (H) 3-2
(L1) Lincoln City (A) 0-2
(L1) MK Dons (H) 2-1
(LC) Sheffield United (A) 1-0

TRFC

(L1) Southend United (H) 1-1
(L1) Coventry City (A) 1-0
(LT) Aston Villa U21s (H) 2-1
(L1) Shrewsbury Town (H) 0-1
(L1) Ipswich Town (A) 1-4

The Super Whites on Wearside

22 Aug 1998 (D1) Sunderland 5-0 Tranmere Rovers (Phillips, Dichio 2, Mullin, Butler)
29 Nov 1997 (D1) Sunderland 3-0 Tranmere Rovers (Clark 2, Phillips)
30 Jan 1996 (D1) Sunderland 0-0 Tranmere Rovers
05 Mar 1995 (D1) Sunderland 0-1 Tranmere Rovers
30 Apr 1994 (D1) Sunderland 3-2 Tranmere Rovers (P. Gray 2, Russell)

Top goalscorers (in all competitions)

4 - Stefan Payne
3 - Oliver Banks
3 - Connor Jennings
2 - Morgan Ferrier
2 - Paul Mullin

Ipswich Town v Tranmere Rovers - Sky Bet League One Photo by Hannah Fountain - CameraSport via Getty Images

Last Time We Met

In an era of VAR and endless debate over minor incidents on social media, it’s quite hard to fathom fallout if John Aldridge’s cheating b*stard ways had occurred in 2019. The last time Tranmere and Sunderland faced off it ended in bizarre circumstances where the Super Whites finished the game with 11 men despite having a man sent off.

Trailing from a first half Wayne Allison strike, as Sunderland pressed for an equaliser to secure a replay in this FA Cup third round tie, a fresh-faced Clint Hill received a second booking for dissent and was dismissed. Amid the chaos, Rovers boss Aldridge sent on Stephen Frail to seemingly replace Hill.

While no-one, except a knowing Aldridge, seemed to notice the game descended into farce as everyone clocked Tranmere still had 11 players on the pitch. The long and short of it was, Sunderland lost and the FA upheld the decision, a verdict that would absolutely farcical in 2019 and, admittedly, was in 2000.

Tranmere’s last visit to Wearside ended in a 5-0 shellacking with Craig Russell looking sad in the Rovers side.

Tranmere v Sunderland red card Photo by John Giles - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images