Tranmere Rovers have a rich history of rivalry sparked through the 1990s with the Greater Manchester club, Bolton Wanderers. This weekend, that rivalry will spark again.
This rivalry placed doubts in the minds of the Rovers faithful when an ex-Trotters manager was appointed following a successful interim period with Ian Dawes and Andy Parkinson in the dugout. There has been added pressure placed on Keith Hill following the last two performances, which have been described as a ‘disgrace’. Thus, there is plenty on the line in this game for Hill and his reputation amongst fans.
On top of this, a league position in the play-offs in the nearing future could be at stake. If Rovers win on the road, they will go one point away from the top seven. Failing to win, the gaps will increase. Thus, this game could be seen as a ‘must-win’. If the Trotters win at home, they could go up to seventh.
This encounter is set to be action-packed and very fiery. A game to certainly look out for.
In Keith Hill’s pre-match meeting with the press, he confirmed that he had a fully fit squad going into this weekend’s league encounter. This means that strikers Stefan Payne and James Vaughan are available for selection. Payne completing his recovery from a groin injury operation and Vaughan completing his recovery from a believed slight ‘tendonitis’ issue. Great news for the Whites.
Bolton Wanderers are managed by the Coventry-born Ian Evatt, who was appointed in June following the club’s relegation to the fourth division in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak. As a player, Evatt was a centre half and he featured for many football league clubs such as Blackpool and Chesterfield. Following his footballing retirement, he used the coaching badges that he earned during his time at the ‘Spireites’ in his experience as caretaker manager. He wouldn’t last long before being appointed by the non-league Barrow AFC, where he would do miraculosly well and promote the ‘bluebirds’ to the football league. His hard work meant he could either remain in the football league at Holker Street or try to excel his future and rebuild an ex Premier league outfit in Bolton Wanderers. He chose the latter.
It was clear that the Trotters needed a rebuild, as they had experienced back to back relegations due to financial trouble. With a new young exciting manager at the helm, this summer saw the club undergo a squad revamp in the hope of turning their fortunes around. Veteran goalkeeper Matt Gilks was snapped up by the Trotters as well as forwards Eoin Doyle and Nathan Delfouneso. Another man who knows where the net is was announced by the club, midfielder Antoni Sarcevic. The business didn’t stop there though. In total, 21 players walked through the gates of the University of Bolton Stadium either on a permenant or loan basis. This needed to be done as 22 players would depart, centre midfielder Jacob Mellis in that list of many.
Although the club has been knocked out of all cup competitions, with defeats to: Crewe Alexandra twice, Bradford City and Shrewsbury Town. Their start to the league campaign has been relatively successful. This season it is vital for them to see a period of stabilisation and they are currently placed mid-table in 12th. However, there is still a window open for promotion as the Trotters are eight points away from the top three but only three away from the play-off spots. This could get even closer depending on the result of this weekend’s meeting with promotion rivals Tranmere.
The hosts’ ‘one to watch’ is their summer signing Eoin Doyle. Doyle is the Trotter’s leading goalscorer with eight goals and one assist in sixteen encounters. The 32-year-old is certainly capable of causing league two defences problems and he has shown this so far this campaign.
Referee: Charles Breakspear
Assistant Referees: Scott Williams and Chris Isherwood
Fourth Official: Samuel Barrott
DID YOU KNOW?:
The Whites were promoted to the Championship in 1991, after beating the Greater Manchester outfit at Wembley Stadium 1-0. Chris Malkin scored the goal that would take the Tranmere up, in the 19th minute of extra time.
HEAD TO HEAD:
There have been plenty of meetings between the two clubs, ranging from the glory years of the 1990s to the not so glory years experienced in the 2010s. There have been 38 occasions where the Whites and the Trotters have come head to head. The Trotters coming out on top, with 17 wins.
The first time that Tranmere competed against the Greater Manchester outfit was in 1971, the League Division Three fixture finishing 0-0. Jackie Wright was the manager then.
W – 11
D – 10
L – 17
The last time that the two clubs met was in February 2020, following a successful January transfer window for the Whites. However, the players hadn’t yet bonded together properly when Tranmere made the short trip to the University of Bolton Stadium. The Trotters were victorious 2-0, Rovers fans very displeased with their side’s performance. The two clubs were relegated in the midst of the Coronavirus outbreak.
I think that the Tranmere manager Keith Hill will make some changes to his line-up following the disastrous performance in the club’s last time out. Exeter beat the Whites 5-0 in Devonshire last Saturday. Below is the line-up that I’d like to see as well as the scoreline I think the encounter will result in after a cagey and feisty ninety minutes.
Team sheet – Davies, O’Connor, Nelson, Clarke, Macdonald, Spearing, Morris, Lloyd, Feeney, Woolery, Ferrier.
Scoreline – 1-1
Thank you very much for reading,