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Tranmere vs Bolton: Predictions
What was once just a fixture like any other on the calendar changed after a controversial play-off final 30 years ago and, after a lull where the sides were divisions apart during Bolton Wanderers’ long stint in the Premier League, has once again burst into life now that they’re back in the basement division along with Tranmere Rovers, after both clubs suffered relegation in the curtailed 2019/2020 season.
Neither side have set League Two alight thus far, with Bolton in particular performing well below the lofty expectationsmany pundits and supporters had of them on the eve of the current campaign. Ian Evatt has struggled to replicate the amazing successes he achieved as Barrow manager, where he latterly became famous for a simplified version of Barcelona’s short passing, ‘possession is king’ style.
He has tried to replicate this philosophy at the University of Bolton Stadium against a backdrop of tumult and an increasing reliance on bringing through younger talent. The signings of veteran goalkeeper Matt Gilks (who doubles his duties as the shot-stopping coach) and last season’s League Two top scorer Eoin Doyle are the notable exceptions to that rule, but although the latter’s goal return hasn’t been poor by any stretch of the imagination, his overall performances haven’t reached the heights of his blockbuster stint at Swindon Town.
The Super White Army will welcome the Trotters to Prenton Park at the weekend, and the Birkenhead outfit are currently four places and five points outside of the play-off zone and in decidedly mixed form. Last time out, they impressively held off a comeback in two stages by Forest Green Rovers to triumph 3-2.
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Tranmere vs Bolton: Match Stats
Striker James Vaughan was again on the scoresheet in Tranmere’s win over Forest Green, having consistently been so since first joining Rovers on loan this time last year; the deal was made permanent in the summer, and his predatory instincts have continued to be on display, despite a good number of matches missed through injuries that have been one of the defining characteristics of his career.
The hosts perhaps possess a psychological advantage going into Saturday, having won the reverse fixture 3-0 in Horwich only last month, made all the sweeter for Keith Hill getting one over his erstwhile employers. Moreover, with both defences more than accommodating to the opposition, it augurs well for a contest pockmarked with individual errors and the more skilful members on both teams embarrassing their markers.
Hill will be able to call on the defensive duo of Manny Monthe and Peter Clarke to repel Doyle, whilst in midfield, Jay Spearing (another former Wanderer), will be looking to lay on balls for the dangerous front three to latch onto. Vaughan will relishbypassing a Bolton midfield that want to play on the front foot, and he will be well supported by Kaiyne Woolery and Liam Feeney in that regard. Gilks will have to be at the peak of his powers to avert a repeat of the scoreline in December.
19 Dec 2020 – Bolton Wanderers 0-3 Tranmere Rovers – League Two
01 Feb 2020 – Bolton Wanderers 2-0 Tranmere Rovers – League One
17 Aug 2019 – Tranmere Rovers 5-0 Bolton Wanderers – League One
27 Aug 2013 – Tranmere Rovers 1-1 Bolton Wanderers – League Cup
25 Aug 2009 – Tranmere Rovers 0-1 Bolton Wanderers – League Cup
These two historic clubs have developed a real rivalry over the years and it was the Merseysiders that came out in their first league meeting of the season this time around, with a 0-3 win in Horwich just before Christmas. Peter Clarke, Kieron Morris and James Vaughan were on the scoresheet for Keith Hill’s men that day.