Newly promoted Tranmere Rovers F.C. were subject to a baptism of fire on the opening day as they fell 3-0 down to Rochdale A.F.C. at Prenton Park and although a late fightback saw them grab two late goals, it was not enough to salvage something from their first game of the season. It doesn’t get any easier for Rovers as their next game takes place at Fratton Park against Portsmouth F.C.. Pompey themselves didn’t make an ideal start to the season, losing 1-0 at Shrewsbury Town F.C.. However, last season’s play-off semi-finalists bounced back in midweek, defeating a much-changed Birmingham City F.C. team 3-0 in the EFL Cup to progress to the next round rather easily.
Players To Watch For Portsmouth
Kenny Jackett’s men will most certainly be looking to achieve promotion to the Championship by the time May comes around. Although, some players have chosen to move onto pastures new over the summer. Most notably, pacey winger Jamal Lowe chose to join EFL Championship club Wigan Athletic F.C., after scoring an impressive 15 goals last season. It hasn’t been all doom and gloom for Pompey fans in the close season though, as the club have brought in Doncaster Rovers F.C. talisman John Marquis as well as former Ipswich Town F.C. striker Ellis Harrison, in an attempt to bolster their attacking options. Harrison scored twice in midweek after missing out on the starting line-up in the league at Shrewsbury Town, meaning Jackett will have a big decision to make when writing the team sheet for Saturday.
Incidentally, the inclusion of Harrison against Birmingham City was one of only three changes Portsmouth made on Tuesday, so the majority of the team have already played one more competitive fixture than their counterparts, as Tranmere do not play their first-round match until Tuesday 13th August against Hull City A.F.C.. Usually, the attention would turn to the fact that Portsmouth played in midweek whilst Tranmere did not, meaning the visitors should in theory be fresher than the home side, as well as having had longer to prepare for the match. However, this early on in the season, it should not be that much of an issue for the Portsmouth players physically, especially after having a full pre-season behind them.
Players To Watch For Tranmere Rovers
One side effect that comes with promotion is that your players start to get noticed by teams higher up the Football League pyramid. Although this can be more than a little frustrating for fans, it is understandable that a player would want to ply their trade at the highest level they can reach. Tranmere fans will certainly have been sad to see striker James Norwood leave to join Ipswich Town, after firing them to back to back promotions over the last two seasons. One slight gripe they may have is that he did not move to a team in a higher division. However, a career as a professional footballer does not last forever, and a team with so much history and financial power at this level, such as The Tractor Boys, were in the end a very appealing option for the 28-year-old. Norwood’s boots are going to be hard to fill and Rovers have given this daunting task to Morgan Ferrier, who was signed from Walsall F.C. just days before the season began.
The Super Whites did manage to keep hold of another key attacker in Connor Jennings, who was also present for both the promotion winning seasons from the National League and EFL League Two. The Mancunian striker showed that he has the potential to do well at this level, scoring on the opening day of the season in the defeat to Rochdale. Another key player who Tranmere have thus far managed to hold onto is goalkeeper Scott Davies, who joined from Morecambe F.C. in 2015. The Lancashire stopper has been ever-present over the past few seasons, winning the golden glove after keeping the most clean sheets in League Two, after a campaign of consistent performances in 2018-19.
Portsmouth vs Tranmere Rovers Prediction
Although they drew a blank at Shrewsbury last week, the midweek victory for Portsmouth should have regained some confidence going into this match. They could well be too much for Tranmere to keep out.
Prediction: Portsmouth - 3 Tranmere Rovers - 1