Prenton Park isn’t the happiest historical hunting ground for Boro’ over the years. But our last visit there went our way, so why not again? As we slowly inch our way back down south after a point at Rochdale in midweek, what of the challenge we face against Rovers? Before their own midweek efforts, they’d been on a run of five without a win; the sort of run that we became all too familiar with. And yet a 2-1 home win over Bradford City has set them right all of a sudden.
To be fair, the Super White Army are placed well enough in mid table to be happy with life right now; currently eight points better off than we are. We still have work to do to get ourselves out of danger. So, another step in the right direction for us under Robbie O’Keefe? Or will our hosts double down on newly-rediscovered winning ways…?
Tranmere Rovers v Stevenage
Prenton Park, Tranmere — 27 November 2021 — Sky Bet League Two
As we found out when we asked if you could Remember Them, it’s been a reet topsy-turvy time for Tranmere of late. And, by late, we mean the last decade. There have been ups and downs to keep everyone on their toes; most recently dropping back down from League One in 2020 after PPG failed them. And it was in the third tier that we first came across the side from the Wirral. It all started with our 2-1 home win on 17 December 2011 – despite Ben May’s red card.
Rovers didn’t make life easy for us in the return on Good Friday 06 April 2012, however. With a 3-0 home win, it was made loud and clear that we weren’t about to upstage them in any way at all. But we didn’t back down. The following year saw us stay hot on their heels at the summit of League One. Well, at least we did for the first few weeks. By the time we drew 1-1 at the Lamex thanks to a late Greg Tansey stunner on 24 November 2012, our fortunes had faded.
Indeed, our 3-1 defeat at Prenton Park again was comprehensive and conclusive. And for some reason, Sky Sports put it on for all to see…
We stuck around long enough in League One to squeeze in another two encounters; picking up one point at Prenton Park (0-0, 07 September 2013) and three indoors (3-1, 08 March 2014). It wasn’t, of course, enough to keep us in the division. But that wasn’t going to be the end of that, as it happens. Nope – Rovers decided to keep us company on the journey back down to League Two. And we were going to pick up where we left off during the 2014-5 campaign.
Down we both go. And down they go again…
For both of us, it was a season of picking ourselves back up again after the humiliation of being sent packing from above. We managed it by reaching the League two playoffs. Rovers didn’t; an awkward second straight relegation plunging them out of the Football League. We did our bit to help of course; our 2-2 home draw on Good Friday 03 April 2015 seeing a Boro’ need a late goal to earn a share of the spoils against our struggling guests.
Of course, with Rovers now in the National League, it’d be a few seasons – four in fact – until we met again. And we opened up the 2018-9 campaign on 04 August 2018 with a third straight 2-2 draw. This time, a 10-man Boro’ surrendered a two-goal lead and passed up the chance to start the league programme off with a win. Yet another loss at Prenton Park (0-2, 09 February 2019) maintained our poor form at their place. And so it seems to be…
Failing to keep up with the Rovers…
At the end of the 2018-9 season, the Super White Army were promoted back to League One and had wasted little time in making up lost ground after their non-league exile. Unlike 2014, where we both came down together, we just missed out on the playoffs. So, we weren’t returning with them. Mind you, maybe we broke that little arm-in-arm link when we decided not to go down to the National League with them? Who knows. It’s pure speculation now.
Anyway, Rovers are clearly unable to pick and choose a league and stay in it. Sure, PPG was the reason their stay in League One came to an end in summer 2020 – despite their protests. It’s not going to be recorded in the history books, though. All they’ll say is that they came back down to League Two. And it somehow played into our hands as the 2020-1 campaign unfolded.
After one of our patented dull 0-0 draws at the Lamex on 16 January 2021, Boro’ were now four unbeaten in the league. A corner had been turned under Revs and Wilko on the bench, and we’d started looking half competent as 2021 brought with it fresh hope. That was compounded when we travelled to Prenton Park barely a month later on 09 February 2021; Danny Newton coming off the bench to bag a scorcher in our 1-0 win.
It was also our first win at Prenton Park. And wouldn’t that be a nice little feat to repeat?