Sky Bet League Two
Saturday 11 August
Tranmere Rovers vs Cheltenham Town
Micky Mellon’s Tranmere Rovers take on their first home league game back in the EFL on Saturday afternoon when Cheltenham Town make the trip from Gloucestershire.
After picking up a good point away at Stevenage last weekend, coming back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2, Rovers will be searching for that first win of the season to get that monkey off the back as early as possible.
The squad is a player lighter than this time last week with midfielder Ollie Norburn having joined League One Shrewsbury Town on deadline day for what is believed to be a Shrews club record fee (more than £170,000 their previous record).
So that leaves Mellon’s options in the middle of the park more limited, but with Jay Harris, Ollie Banks and loanee Harvey Gilmour, there remains good quality in the centre. The manager will no doubt be hoping for no injuries or suspensions in that department in particular, though.
No fresh injury concerns have been raised following last weekend’s game at the Lamex Stadium, so it will be interesting to see if the boss goes with the same starting XI in the same formation against The Robins.
Winger Ben Tollitt came on during the second half last week and looked sharp, so he will be pushing for a starting berth. But with Jonny Smith and Connor Jennings having also done well in those wide areas from the start, it will difficult to dislodge either of them from the side.
From the opposition point of view, Gary Johnson had been trying to add a striker to his ranks before the transfer window slammed shut this week. The Robins had bids rejected of up to £175,000 reported for AFC Fylde front man Danny Rowe, who has also been a target for Rovers.
But no business was done, in or out, at Whaddon Road this week, so they go with what they have at Prenton Park.
They began their season with a home defeat to Harry Kewell’s Crawley Town last Saturday. A 1-0 loss in front of their own fans is something they will certainly be looking to get out of their system, so Rovers need to be wary of a wounded animal.
Johnson has built a solid, strong and experienced squad who will be hard to break down, work hard for each other and look to catch Rovers on the break and, as many teams tried last season, try to silence the crowd.
A big crowd is anticipated at Prenton Park for the opening home game of the 2018-19 campaign, so there should be a good atmosphere which will hopefully inspire the team on to the victory.