By Gerry Prewett.
Bristol Rovers entertain Tranmere Rovers on Tuesday evening looking to get their first 3-point haul of the season and to score their first goal. To be told after the game that Tom Davies crucial disallowed goal (to make the score 1-1) should have stood was little consolation for the 2-0 loss at St Andrews on Saturday.
There are two ex-Rovers strikers due at the Mem in the next two games and both are likely to receive a very warm welcome from the home fans. It was noted by many GasHeads on Saturday that Stefan Payne notched his first goal for Tranmere in the 5-0 romp over Bolton on Saturday.
Wanderers' young side held out well for most of the first half but their resistance was broken seven minutes before the break when Ollie Banks fired into the roof of the net from just inside the penalty area.
Rovers doubled their advantage two minutes later as Bolton failed to deal with a corner from Kieron Morris, allowing Morgan Ferrier to sweep home his first goal for the club. Ferrier had been lucky to stay on the pitch after a late tackle on Harry Brockbank, but he notched his second moments into the second half with a superb individual goal to make it 3-0.
Tranmere smelt blood, hunting for more goals and they found them when Connor Jennings converted a pull-back from Morris, before substitute Payne diverted a Paul Mullin shot into the net for a fifth.
Speaking after the game, former Bristol City player and Tranmere Manager Micky Mellon said, “We are pleased to get the first clean sheet and the first win, it was one we would have expected to win in all due respect to Bolton so there was a lot of pressure on us and we know there is still a lot of work to be done.”
“To get a win like that today, we are delighted but there is a lot of work to still be done and we will keep on pushing and pushing until we get what we want and that is a competitive League One team.”
“We know where we want them to be and that is to be competitive at this level. It was a difficult afternoon for us, because we expected to get the result and we did that. We are delighted and it was important to get our first win of the season, we knew it was going to be tough, we knew it was going to be a baptism of fire but we’ve grown into it and know we have to keep improving all the time.”
“We know that to improve in areas and we will work on that and keep striving for good performances all of time.”
The Gas’ first game against Tranmere took place as long ago as 12 December 1931 as the Birkenhead team ran out 2-0 winners at Prenton Park in an FA Cup tie.
It was 36 long years before the teams crossed one another again, this time in the League and the honours were shared with a 3-3 draw in the Wirral. Alan King, Joe Pritchard and Kenny Beamish scoring for the Merseysiders and a Ray Mabbutt double and a goal from Bobby Jones for the Gas.
Rovers’ best victory over the Prenton Park outfit took place on 30 September 1969, when they ran out 3-0 winners at Eastville. Robin Stubbs scoring twice and Harold Jarman with the other goal. The 3 goal margin was reversed later in the season on 17 April 1970 as Frank Gill (3), Kenny Beamish and Jim Hinch netted for the home team with Carl Gilbert scoring twice for the away team, to provide a 5-2 scoreline.
Overall the Gas has the better of the results from the 31 games played with 15 victories to Tranmere’s 10. The games are rarely high scoring affairs, in the 24 games since Tranmere’s 5-2 thrashing of the Gas in 1969/70 season; no side has scored more than 2 goals. The aggregate number of goals in those games is 41, less than 2 per game!
Speaking ahead of the game Tranmere Boss Mellon commented, “We expect everyone that we play against to be a hard game so Tuesday night will be no different as it is always a difficult place to go with a real enthusiastic crowd. They get good numbers down there so we look forward to going down there to compete and hopefully coming away with a result.”
“There has been some tough games early on so whatever time that you go to Bristol Rovers, you know it’s always going to be tough. It’s going to be a hard game, especially for us as we’re trying to bridge that gap in quality to this division so we’ll have to be at our very best to get something down there.
“There’s only been three games played and in terms of ourselves we’ve played Portsmouth who are probably one of the favourites as well, so you have to be careful how you look at this stage of the season and who has played who and all the rest of it.”
Tranmere Club Captain and goalkeeper Scott Davies echoed his Boss’ sentiments, “Regardless of results, we know what we want and how to achieve it so you will hear the manager bang on about it a lot, but we play with a plan and sticking to our principles.”
“And if we go into most of the games this season and do that, we’ll stick to the principles and play with the plan, then we will come out with more positive results than negatives. That’s why we went to Wembley and we won and worked so hard to get here.”
“We want these challenges, we want to put Tranmere back among these clubs. We’re not here to make the numbers up, we’re going there to win the game and if we stick to our principles, we’ve got every chance.”