Tranmere Rovers v Bradford City – The match preview

Tranmere Rovers vs Bradford City – The match preview
Saturday 26th December 2020
English Football League Two

Merry Christmas!

To celebrate the festivities, there is what should be an action packed league two encounter at Prenton Park between promotion hopefuls Tranmere Rovers and Bradford City. This game will see Vaughan feature against his former club and the Whites will be hoping to add to their majestic ‘on the road’ performance last time out against rivals Bolton Wanderers in a 3-0 victory. This fixture will not be easy for either side thus it should be very entertaining.

Keith Hill has a fully available squad to select players from for the upcoming ‘festive’ fixture. This is great news for Tranmere as it is evident that they can beat anyone in the league when they are at their strongest. However, in the manager’s pre match press conference Hill stated ‘the team news can change from day to day’.


Bradford City sacked manager Stuart McCall after a very poor start to this season’s league two campaign. Since then, the club has appointed Mark Truemann and Connor Sellars as interim managers. The pair, before being appointed as a joint caretaker manager partnership were academy coaches. However, after a successful start where their side have picked up four points in two games they have made their ambitions to stay in management clear.

Last season, the Bantams finished 9th on a PPG basis due to the COVID-19 outbreak. They exited all cup competitions in the first round, leaving the EFL Trophy in the group stages. Their top scorer was current Tranmere striker James Vaughan who scored eleven in the opening half of the campaign before signing on loan for the Merseyside outfit in the January window. Off the pitch, their support was shown in numbers. 17,668 fans packed Valley Parade for their league two fixture against Grimsby Town.

In the summer, the ambition was to excel and be promoted to the third league of the English footballing pyramid. To aid these hopes, a number of players signed for the Yorkshire club: midfielders Billy Clarke, Callum Cooke, Elliott Watt and Gareth Evans joined on a permanent basis alongside full-back Levi Sutton. Full-back Bryce Hosannah signed a loan deal from Leeds United in late September and striker Austin Samuels joined from Wolves in the following month. A host of players were released to make way for these players, including Everton academy graduate Hope Akpan. Vaughan was the club’s greatest loss, the experienced striker leaving on mutual consent in mid August.

The Bantams start to the season hasn’t been pretty. Departing the FA Cup and the EFL Cups in the second round, with defeats to Oldham Athletic and Lincoln City. Lincoln would thrash their hosts 5-0. They have also only been able to add four wins to the league table, from eighteen games. However, the new caretaker interim managers are yet to be beaten and they will be hoping to continue this run.

Tranmere defenders should keep an eye out for former Huddersfield and Birmingham City striker Lee Novak. The 32-year-old forward has scored four goals in ten games so far and his strength and pace add more than goals to his style of play.

Bradford City have won the English second tier and the FA Cup, both in the early 1900s. They have also won the English third tier and Division Three North. Their most successful recent campaign has to be the 2012/13 season where they won the league two play offs and came runners up in the league cup to Swansea City. Phil Parkinson was manager then.

Referee: Ben Toner
Assistant Referees: Steve Rushton and Alan Clayton
Fourth Official: Martin Woods

One of Tranmere’s darkest days came against the Bantams when the two clubs last met for a league encounter. The fixture was played on 3rd May 2014 and Rovers needed a victory to stay in league one. Although they would lead for eighty minutes, courtesy of loanee defender Matthew Pennington’s early opener. Junior Brown’s 31st minute sending off would prove costly as Bradford City would win 2-1. One year later, the club were relegated to the National League.

Tranmere’s experienced top scorer James Vaughan was signed on loan from the Bantams last season. In the summer, despite concerns that Bradford wanted to keep hold of him the 32-year-old striker signed a two year deal for the Whites.
Last season, Vaughan’s contribution in his partnership with Morgan Ferrier was one of the many reasons that the club believed they would be able to stay up. He scored three goals in eight league one games before COVID-19 brought a demotion. So far this campaign, he has shown his quality in Rovers’ promotion fight as he has scored ten in seventeen league fixtures.
In truth, Vaughan is not a Bantams fan favourite. Fans of his old club have labelled him ‘lazy’ and they have shown their frustration in the way he chose to leave their club in the summer.
He netted 11 goals in 25 league two fixtures last season before making the January transfer window move to Prenton Park.

The two clubs have faced each other on 84 different occasions. The Whites come out on top with 35 wins.
The first meeting came nine years on from World War 1, in 1927. This was a Division Three North fixture and the Rovers won 2-1, at home.
The two clubs last met in the 2013/14 campaign, home and away for league one fixtures.
Tranmere wins – 35
Draws – 19
Bradford wins – 30

I believe that the team selected for last Saturday’s victory against Bolton, if all are available for selection, will be chosen again for the Boxing day encounter against the ‘Bantams’. I also think that the quality shown in the previous encounter will bring good footballing momentum and Rovers will win in this fixture.
Team – Davies, MacDonald, Nelson, Clarke, Ridehalgh, Spearing, Young, Feeney, Blackett-Taylor, Morris, Vaughan.
Score – Tranmere 2 Bradford 0

If you enjoyed this match preview and would like to discover more about the visitors, why not read my Q+A with a ‘Bantams’ fan. The interviewee expresses his thoughts on the club he supports and his predictions for this encounter are given; amongst other subjects.

‘Meeting the opposition’ – Bradford City F.C

James Vaughan started the last campaign at Bradford City. He would sign on loan for the Whites in the January transfer window before making his move permanent in the summer. His quality has been evident, scoring 15 goals in 26 fixtures across all competitions.

Thank you very much for reading,
Merry Christmas,
Ethan Hoijord

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