Stevenage v Tranmere Rovers: Now we've let go of the FA Cup for another season, it's time to get back down to work in the league – and climb up that ladder

Now we’ve let go of the FA Cup for another season, it’s time to get back down to work in the league – and climb up that ladder. There’s no shame in how things went indoors last week against Swansea City. But it was always a sideshow to the main event. And it’d be reckless of the lads to forget that we’ve still got a lot to do until our League Two status is safe. Not least when the axe could still yet fall on the current campaign before its race is run. The good news is that we’re at home again – and hungry for another three points.

At least, we hope we’re hungry. Back-to-back wins should give us the appetite for more. Up next are Tranmere Rovers, then; a side we were due to play just the other side of Christmas, only for a bout of Covid-19 at Bragbury End to stand in the way. OK, so we were down to go up to theirs. But it’s a moot point. This is the task at hand that we need to worry about. And we’re arguably in a better shape to take on the Rovers now too, right? Not least now it’s one month on since we lost four-zip up at Carlisle.

The Details: Stevenage v Tranmere Rovers

Where’s the game?

Home again.

Can I watch Stevenage v Tranmere Rovers?

For the cost of two pints, get yourself an iFollow Match Pass and watch all the action live from the Lamex. If you’ve forgotten what it’s like (or how much it is) to buy a couple of ice cold pints, it’s been a while now – hasn’t it? But a tenner is the amount you need.

How is Boro’s form looking at the moment?

On the face of it, the impact of taking seven points from the last nine on offer is pretty clear for all to see. We’ve climbed out of the bottom two – albeit on goal difference. That’s a huge step for us; Boro’ spending much of the last calendar year in serious peril. Now, we can start (hopefully) to steer our season stats in the right direction too. There’s quite a bit of room for improvement. But we can make it happen if we keep picking up the points.

After all, our headline stats will no doubt encourage Rovers. We’ve failed to score in half of our home league games this season and our record in front of goal is still rubbish. But we’ve actually scored in four of our last five matches indoors. And we’ve scored five times in the last three outings. So, things can change – and start to make the stats look better. It’s a work very much in progress, however. And we can still lose that habit of conceding early doors.

… and how are the Rovers doing right now?

To look at the form table, it’ll show you that Rovers have done better than us over the past eight games to the tune of one point. But, again, it doesn’t tell the whole story. November was a very good month for them; five straight wins driving them up the table. Yet, that run spluttered to a halt in December. Now, our guests are coming to us off the back of just one win in five (3-0 at Bolton) – with three defeats in the mix.

It hasn’t been an easy period for them, however. After our trip to Prenton Park was put on ice due to our Covid-19 outbreak, their match at Colchester United on 2 January also fell victim to the current public health crisis. . They’ve been in cup action since 2020 went the same way as the dinosaurs though; going out of the FA Cup at the hands of Barnsley last weekend, then getting the better of Leicester City’s kids in the Papa John’s Trophy.

Our story with Tranmere Rovers so far

It’s more than 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 returned (snarf!) to the Football League in 2018 and stormed up 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?

Lee Swabey.

With all due respect to Mr Swabey, can we have another ref for this one please? This is the second time this season we’ve shared his socially distant company. And it was a defeat that underlined a trend on his watch that we’d quite like to bin off. Our 1-0 reverse at the hands of the Exiles in October made it four straight games in which we’ve failed to score when he takes charge of affairs. In 10 meetings overall, we have only two wins to our name; the last one coming nearly four years ago. Ouch.

All in all, Mr Swabey has reffed 16 games so far this term. He’s reached for a yellow card in each one of them. Not in any great number, however. A total of 35 bookings makes it just over two per game on average, which is hardly horrendous. No reds yet. Will that change here? As long as it ain’t for one of our lads, we don’t care.

Last Time Out: Stevenage 0-1 Newport County, 20 October 2020

Stevenage v Tranmere Rovers: Our verdict?

This, we think, is a tough one to call. On one hand, our improved results of late gives us a good feeling about our chances. On the other, however, Tranmere Rovers are a team who know how to win and who do most of their point-gathering on the road. So, this one could easily go either way. And, because of that, we reckon it’ll go neither way. It’s a fixture that ends in a draw more often than not – and it’ll do so again. It’s 1-1 for us, Clive.

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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...