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The 5 Most Anticipated Opponents For 2019-20

The return to League One provides some interesting fixtures for Tranmere

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Posted: 29/07/19

By | Matthew Evans | @M_R_Evans1

mevans@deadlysubmarine.com

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Hello and welcome to Deadly Submarine's 2019-20 League One countdown. Twelve months ago, we launched our inaugural countdown feature in preparation for Tranmere's return to the EFL. The response was incredible, and so we are delighted to be able to bring the feature back as we look ahead to Rovers' third-tier return.

With just five days until Rochdale visit Prenton Park for the opening fixture of the League One calendar, we will bring you a new piece every day until 2nd August, with each related to the number of days remaining in some manner.

Make sure to follow us on Twitter (@DSubmarine17), Facebook (@DeadlySubmarine) and our new Instagram account (@deadlysubmarineofficial) to ensure you keep abreast of the latest releases. Each new entry will be released at 6am on the appropriate date, so you should have plenty of time to digest each.

And if you do miss an instalment, you will find links at the bottom of each day's entry to take you back to any that may have escaped your attention.

Please find below our content for day six in the 2019-20 countdown.

Between 2015 and 2018, Tranmere played against non-League opposition on a level footing, a non-League club themselves. They encountered many clubs for the first time, for example Braintree Town, Guiseley, North Ferriby United and Solihull Moors to name a few.

Whilst discovering these new opponents was one of the most enjoyable elements of playing in the National League, Tranmere's return to League One brings with it a host of more recognisable names with whom Rovers can lock horns.

In the five years since Tranmere played at this level, the line-up has alternated somewhat, however there are some familiar faces. Teams such as Southend United, Gillingham, Blackpool and Bristol Rovers appear to exude a 'welcome home' familiarity.

Conversely, there are a few fixtures, five to be exact, that stand above the rest, stirring anticipatory emotions from within. From sizeable clubs to lingering grudges, forgotten foes to more recent adversaries, here are the five teams we're most looking forward to playing in League One 2019-20.

Ipswich Town

Last Met In The League: 22nd March 2000

The former champions of England (1961-62) and UEFA Cup (1980-81) winners will be playing at third-tier level for the first time since their 1956-57 Third Division South title-winning campaign. Notable as the club where England legend Sir Alf Ramsey made his managerial name, Ipswich Town are a giant at third-tier level.

Rovers and Ipswich were last in the same league in the 1999-2000 season, Tranmere's penultimate at second-tier level. A Tractor Boys squad including Tranmere icon John McGreal were held to a 0-0 draw at Portman Road on 12th November 1999, however they inflicted a 0-2 loss at Prenton Park on 22nd March 2000. At the end of the campaign, Ipswich gained promotion to the Premier League via the play-offs, whilst Tranmere were relegated to the third tier in 2001, meaning the clubs have not met in league competition since.

James Norwood's high-profile free transfer to Suffolk will factor into the 2019-20 meetings between the clubs. Whilst there shouldn't, and likely won't, be any animosity towards James from the SWA, the immediate return of the man who scored the goal that returned the Club to the EFL makes this fixture an obvious stand out.

2019-20 Fixture Dates: 28th September 2019 (A), 18th January 2020 (H)

Sunderland

Last Met In The League: 26th December 1998

Over two decades since both clubs participated in 1998-1999's Division One, Tranmere will once again meet Sunderland on the field of play in the league.

In 1998-99, Tranmere lost 0-5 away on 22nd August 1998 before winning 1-0 on 26th December 1998 courtesy of a Scott Taylor goal at Prenton Park. Since then, both clubs have become embroiled in disagreements with each other.

Firstly, on 8th January 2000, a second-tier Tranmere side eliminated a Premier League Sunderland 1-0 in the fourth round of the FA Cup. Wayne Allison scored the winner for Rovers, but the game is remembered for controversial happenings regarding substitutes. With Clint Hill sent off, Tranmere substituted Stephen Frail in his place, maintaining eleven players despite Hill's dismissal.

In 2002, Sunderland were found guilty of agreeing terms with Tranmere youngster Sean Thornton before his contract at Prenton Park had expired and were fined £1,500 as a result.

The Stadium of Light is, by a margin of almost 18,000 seats ahead of Milton Keynes Dons' Stadium:MK, the largest stadium in the division. The contrast between that and stadiums such as Sutton United's Gander Green Lane and Maidstone United's Gallagher Stadium, complete with artificial surfaces, serves as a reminder of the progress made at Prenton Park over the past twelve months.

With four divisions between the clubs as recently as 2016-17, that they will play at the same level in 2019-20 indicates their respective fortunes in the interim.

The expansion of EFL regulations to allow seven substitutes on the bench means the referees charged with officiating their meetings will have to be even more vigilant in the event of any dismissals!

2019-20 Fixture Dates: 22nd October 2019 (A), 28th January 2020 (H)

Bolton Wanderers

Last Met In The League: 13th January 2001

Long-standing rivals, Tranmere and Bolton Wanderers last shared a division in the 2000-01 season. During that campaign, Tranmere lost 0-1 at home on 28th August 2000 and lost 2-0 away on 13th January 2001.

A long time removed from Chris Malkin's injury-time winner in the 1991 Third Division play-off final and the episodes between the charges of John Aldridge and Sam Allardyce, the clubs have been living in largely separate worlds for almost two decades.

Current issues at Bolton will serve as a reminder of the dangers of overspending and, with Wanderers set to start the 2019-20 campaign with a 12-point deficit, Tranmere are guaranteed to go into the third game of the season further up the pyramid for the first time in a long time.

Off the pitch, there could be a huge crowd when the Trotters roll into town in week two.

Whilst in charge of Bradford City, current Bolton manager Phil Parkinson became embroiled with Tranmere hero Ian Goodison on the touchline at Valley Parade and, added to the surrounding background of the fixture, could expect a frosty reception at Prenton Park on 17th August.

2019-20 Fixture Dates: 17th August 2019 (H), 1st February 2020 (A)

Rotherham United

Last Met In The League: 28th January 2014

Rotherham United and Tranmere Rovers are clubs that are linked predominantly over a shared love of Ronnie Moore. The former Tranmere player and manager was also a former Miller, leading them from the fourth to the second tier as boss.

They last crossed swords in 2013-14, with the Super Whites drawing 1-1 away at New York Stadium on 22nd October 2013 thanks to a late Ryan Lowe penalty. Tranmere lost 1-2 at home on 28th January 2014 in front of just 3,777 supporters.

With Rotherham going on to earn promotion and Rovers suffering the first of their two successive relegations at the end of the season, the clubs have been kept apart in the interim. The final club to be relegated from the Championship in 2018-19, they will prove a tough test, but Tranmere have the chance to show them how different things are compared to their last visit to Prenton Park. With well over 4200 season cards sold to date, the attendance for their 31st August visit should highlight the change in atmosphere on The Wirral.

2019-20 Fixture Dates: 31st August 2019 (A), 13th April 2020 (H)

Shrewsbury Town

Last Met In The League: 21st February 2015

Relegated from League One together in 2013-14, both clubs enjoyed contrasting fortunes in League Two 2014-15.

Tranmere were on a direct route to non-League, rookie boss Rob Edwards seeing his team concede twice in injury time to lose 2-1, from 1-0 up, on 16th August 2014. Future Rovers forward Andy Mangan scored one of the Shrews' goals after Abdulai Bell-Baggie had put the Super Whites in front.

Later that season, Edwards was replaced, and a Micky Adams-led squad secured a 2-1 home victory over Town on 21st February 2015.

Then-Shrewsbury boss Micky Mellon took his team to automatic promotion at the end of the campaign, whilst Tranmere fell into the National League. Two leagues apart, Mellon's switch to Tranmere in 2016 proved the catalyst for the Club returning to the EFL for 2018-19.

As part of that return, they participated in the EFL Trophy. Although the competition has become a microcosm of all that is wrong in modern football, Mellon and the SWA will have the chance to avenge a 6-0 thrashing at the hands of the Shrews (9th October 2018) in the upcoming season.

The arrival of Shrewsbury's 2017-18 top scorer Stefan Payne at Prenton Park adds another layer of complexity to the two league fixtures for 2019-20. Surely everyone at the Club has something to prove in this one?

2019-20 Fixture Dates: 5th October 2019 (H), 4th January 2020 (A)

And then there is Peterborough United…

Last Met In The League: 18th January 2014

On 24th August 2013, Tranmere lost 0-5 at home to Peterborough United. On 18th January 2014, they lost 3-0 away. These heavy defeats were compounded by the fact that Peterborough also knocked Tranmere out of the FA Cup with a 5-0 win in the second round on 7th December 2013. One season (2013-14), three matches, 13 goals conceded, zero scored.

In recent seasons, Peterborough United have brought nothing but misery to the SWA.

Rovers' tenure in non-League football did not prevent them from receiving yet another drubbing at the hands of the Posh, this time in the FA Cup second round. Having drawn the initial tie 1-1 at London Road, Tranmere brought their then-League One opponents back to Prenton Park in the hopes of a televised cup upset (Rovers were two leagues below at the time). 0-2 down at the point Jay Harris was sent off on 25 minutes, Tranmere lost by a five-goal margin again (0-5).

With United building a formidable squad for 2019-20, they are amongst the favourites for League One glory.

Very few will be anticipating crossing their path again.

2019-20 Fixture Dates: 17th September 2019 (H), 3rd May 2020 (A)

Summary

And there we have it, five teams whose arrival at Prenton Park will be anticipated, some notable away trips… and Peterborough United.

Do you agree with our selections? Which league fixtures are you most anticipating? Let us know on our various social media channels.

As always, thanks for your continued support of our countdown.

MMSWA.

Remember: Check back tomorrow for day seven of our ten-day countdown to the 2019-20 season.