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Football: Rovers aim to book place in the play-offs; We're on the brink admits boss Little.

Byline: By ROB BRADY

TRANMERE can all but guarantee their place in the playoffs at Brentford tonight.

Victory at Griffin Park would put Rovers on 78 points - the maximum sixth placed Bournemouth can achieve if they win all their remaining games.

It would leave Tranmere needing a point from their last four fixtures to make sure of finishing in the top six.

Manager Brian Little said: 'Mathematically, we would not be safe even if we won at Brentford, but we would not be far off. If we get a point that would put us nine or 10 ahead of some of the teams around us. That would mean they would have to win their last four games to overtake us.

'There are a lot of teams at the top who still have to play each other. Brentford finish their season off against Hull and Luton. Bournemouth and Hartlepool play each other on the final day of the season.

'We are better placed than most of the others, but you still have to keep your concentration high. Some sort of result at Brentford would virtually seal a play-off spot.'

However, a win or even a point tonight is by no means a formality. Seventh placed Brentford can give their own play-off hopes a boost with victory. The Bees currently stand level on points with Bournemouth and have two games in hand.

Little is wary of the danger posed by Martin Allen's team.

'Brentford have a lot of experience in their side,' he said. 'They have many people who have played at a higher level. They have a young manager who appears to want to compete at a higher level and is engrossed in what he isdoing.' Tranmere have no fresh injury problems ahead of tonight's game, although Eugene Dadi is still suspended.

Forward Paul Hall believes cool heads will see Tranmere safely into the play-offs.

Rovers' experience came to the fore to overcome a stubborn Stockport side on Friday.

A succession of missed chances frustrated the Prenton Park crowd, but Little's side kept plugging away and skipper Jason McAteer ultimately popped up with the winning goal.

Hall, who has 14 seasons under his belt, said: 'It's important the older heads in the side keep things calm. You have 90 minutes to win a game. When the goal finally does come then you can relax.'

The former Jamaican international believes the narrow victory over relegated Stockport was good preparation for the visit to Brentford.

'We can go into the Brentford game knowing we can play possession football, but we need to turn our chances into goals.

'Brentford are a decent side. They will be seeking a win to make up ground. We have picked up six points in our last two games. Our form away from home is good

CAPTION(S):

VITAL STRIKE: Jason McAteer hits the winner against Stockport. Below: Boss Brian Little
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Apr 12, 2005
Words:482
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