Tranmere Rovers v Stevenage: For Boro', we won't find too many tasks as difficult as our next one – a trip to the Wirral to take on the in-form Tranmere Rovers
Photo: "Ian Muir & Ray Mathias, mural." by Silver Novice of the Wirral is licensed under CC BY 2.0

For Boro’, we won’t find too many tasks as difficult as our next one – a trip to the Wirral to take on the in-form Tranmere Rovers. If you can bear to cast your mind back to 2020, this is one of two games that we were meant to play in mid-December. But Covid-19 forced us to put it on hold. Now we’re going to try again. And, for both of us, it’s fair to say that much has changed in both camps since then. Even since we met at the Lamex three weeks ago, things look a lot different – not least for our hosts, who are building up a right head of steam.

The Details: Tranmere Rovers v Stevenage

Where’s the game?

It’s off to the Wirral we go as the doors of Prenton Park open up to Alex Revell‘s men.

Can I watch Tranmere Rovers v Stevenage?

The short answer is “yes”. The middle answer is “yes, you can”. And the long answer is “yes, you can – but you’ll need to buy an iFollow Match Pass“. For £10, you can stream the action live and direct from Prenton Park. Just remember that, with no fans obviously allowed into the ground, kick off is at the now familiar earlier time of 7pm.

How is Boro’s form looking at the moment?

A decent home point against playoff-chasing Morecambe keeps Boro’ rooted in mid-table as far as the latest form goes. Two defeats in the last nine (both against Exeter) have put us in a position where we have a nice five-point gap and a game in hand between us and the relegation zone. You can even argue that we’ve drawn games we should’ve won, and lost one that we should’ve drawn. But that’s all done and dusted now and it is what it is.

Our biggest takeaway from SoccerStats.com is that we’re now outscoring Grimsby Town – as well as Southend United. It’s the small wins that sometimes matter most, right? On the road, however, we’re still in dire straits. Nine points from a possible 36 away from our gaff is only good if you compare it to Barrow and the Shrimpers. Three of them came in a rare away win at Grimsby, while four of our remaining six points on the road were 1-1 draws.

… and how are Rovers doing right now?

Now, here’s what we’re up against. Since our goalless draw on 16 January, Rovers racked up five straight league wins. It has lifted them from 15th in the table on 29 points to third on 44 points. And it leaves them joint top of the form table when you’re looking at things over the last eight games; collecting 17 points from a possible 24. Cambridge and Mansfield can also say the same. But they can’t match Rovers’ return over the last five.

Looking at the highlights from SoccerStats.com, our latest hosts have let in at least one goal in each of their last six indoors. Of course, conceding goals isn’t the reason they’re on such a banging run. Scoring them is. And they’ve scored two (or more) goals in each of their last four at Prenton Park. It leaves them with the sixth-best home record in the league at the moment. But if Bradford City can get three points there, it’s not impossible we can too.

If this game had been played in December when it was meant to, we’d both be coming in off the back of a drubbing; us 4-0 at Carlisle and them 5-0 at Exeter. See? Times change.

Our story with Tranmere Rovers so far

It’s almost nine years since our first-ever match against Rovers; our 2-1 win at the Lamex keeping our good start to life in League One on track. But we’ve only managed 10 games so far – and that 2011 result is one of just two victories to our name. The other one was a 3-1 win indoors in March 2014 to keep us dreaming of League One survival.

If the early stages of the 2012-3 season had us both eyeing up the Championship, 2013-4 had us straining to avoid relegation to League Two. It was a battle neither of us won. For Rovers, however, it’d get worse. A second successive relegation saw ’em go down into the Conference at the end of the 2014-5 season. It was during that season we came closest to winning at Prenton Park; an injury-time leveller earning them a 2-2 draw.

Rovers turned (snarf!) to the Football League in 2018 – and stormed through League Two; picking up four points from us in the process. With them going up to League One, it meant we’d spend last season apart. But they were relegated (controversially) on PPG and that’s why they now walk among us once again. For how long, however, is still to be seen…

Last Time Out: Tranmere Rovers 2-0 Stevenage, 08 February 2019

Who’s the referee in charge?

Bobby Madley.

Heard the name before? It could be because Mr Madley was sacked as a Premier League ref in 2018 for sending an offensive social media message. But his return to English action was confirmed earlier this year. Now he’s back in the middle in the Football League. And it means he now takes charge of a Boro’ match for the first time since December 2012.

This will be our fourth time with Mr Madley as ref; Boro’ losing the first at Torquay United in March 2011 and winning the other two to date.

Mr Madley’s first campaign back in English football is now 18 matches old. His yellow card count is currently at 54 (three per game) and he broke his red card duck at Spotland on 16 January; sending off Rochdale’s Jim McNulty in their 3-3 draw at home to Wigan.

Last Meeting: Hartlepool United 0-2 Stevenage, 08 December 2012

Tranmere Rovers v Stevenage: Our verdict?

If we had to pick out one match we’d rather avoid at the moment, it’s this one. The bottom line, for us, is that Rovers are on a whole other level from the rest of the division right now. Of course, our confidence is growing with each new game. But we can only see this game going one way. Our prediction? 3-1 home win.

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Pete H is the head of the BoroGuide team; helping to keep the show on the road for the best part of two decades – all because of his love of Boro'. He was relatively late to the scene; first rocking up at Broadhall Way during the 1995-6 season. But that's mainly because he was too young to pledge allegiance before then. There have been more than enough highs (Easter Monday '96) and lows (Kettering '02) since then, however, to keep him occupied. Yes, and the 2010 title win...