Stevenage meeting the opposition.
The League Two season commences this weekend, with Tranmere facing Stevenage at Prenton Park on Saturday July 30th. Last time round, when the two sides met on the Wirral Peninsula, Mellon’s side would take the three points after Kieron Morris netted in the 48th minute.
However, the visitors that day would win the game against Tranmere that followed and there has been a lot that has happened since. I caught up with Boro fan Reece Donnelly who gave me his thoughts on Stevenage’s summer and managerial change towards the end of last campaign.
Last season, Stevenage escaped relegation to the National League as they finished 21st, how do you reflect on that campaign as a whole?
A rollercoaster but ended with a shining light at the end of it. Steve Evans got a real grip on this team and club and made us hard to beat, won us games and after a season of struggle the fans identified with the team again. But let’s not mess about, we were lucky Scunthorpe, Barrow and Oldham were as bad as they were.
We went into the season with so much hope and whilst there were flashes under Revell it was abundantly clear he wasn’t ready, Tisdale was second choice and was the disaster we expected. But whilst we had good players and some form of a team, with a properly experienced manager at the helm and a lucky escape, it felt time for a proper reset come the season’s end which we’ve now got.
The squad had some good players last season, it could never just properly click and threaten at the level. Creating a split in-between the club and its Fanbase. It’s all looking up now though!
This pre season, The Boro have had a big player turnover, are you happy with the business that the club has done and what would you say is a realistic ambition for the new season?
Yes, extremely. Bringing in multiple different profiles to create a versatile side prepared for different games. Very impressed. Danny Rose and Jordan Roberts are there to compliment Norris Reid and List. Dean Campbell looks like a really technical midfielder and a smart acquisition. Kane Smith and Taye Ashby Hammond have been picked up as outstanding players in the division below. Those are just a few of them but what impresses me most is the different profiles mean we’re ready for however games may go.
Steve Evans is Stevenage’s manager, what are the general thoughts from the fanbase of him and what would you say his desired playing style is?
I think as a guy who has been there and done it, I think it’s exactly what we need. He knows what it takes to win and the character needed to be the underdog success which is what we are. A lot of our success as a club was under Graham Westley and whilst there are clear differences, they feel quite similar which is what we can identify with as fans.
What I would say the difference is whilst they can more than compete physically Evans does try to play short sharp direct football and looks to stamp authority on games.
Phil Wallace is the chairman of Boro, what would you say are the feelings of the way that the club is being run at this present moment?
I think there was concern over ambition before the Evans appointment but since we’ve had quotes from Evans and the actions since suggest whilst we live within our means, we do everything we can to succeed. After Gillingham I doubt Evans is joining a similar situation ever again. There is no doubt he wants the best for the club which means that this is a defining spell for Phil in his ownership.
Who would you say are Boro’s key players? Who do Tranmere need to look out for on Saturday afternoon?
It’s impossible to know given all our signings but league two winner last season Dan Sweeney will make a huge impact on us with his composure on the ball in the spine. Jake Reeves has been making things tick in midfield since his arrival and Elliot List and Luke Norris can be a threat to any side. Norris, which you found out in our last encounter.
How do you see the upcoming game panning out? Your score prediction? I’m going with a narrow Tranmere win!
I think Stevenage are going to set up to be difficult to break down and I feel there is a fair amount of pressure and that might play into our hands a little. With a lot of the side able to counter effectively too I feel this game might be able to suit Stevenage but there’s no doubting the threat you offer. I’ll say 2-1 Stevenage but maybe that’s just that pre season optimism.
If you have been keeping up to date with Rovers this pre-season, what are your thoughts on their business? Micky Mellon has brought in players such as Reading full back Ethan Bristow and young centre backs as Rovers look to change their playing style to a back five.
I think there’s actually quite a bit of pressure on Tranmere this year due to the size of the club and I think with a touch of long term feel about what Tranmere want to do I don’t know how that might translate. You’ve lost a fair bit of know-how and whilst I like some of the players bought in, they need time and I’m not sure how they translate to how Mellon has liked to play. Intriguing.
Touching on Stevenage’s pre-season, as we did with question two, would you say there are any other areas that the club will look to strengthen as the transfer
window remains open for a little while?
We’re expecting business to be done. I’ll be quite surprised if a game changing winger/10 or a centre mid doesn’t come through the door. An inquiry from Ryan Broom was turned down but our squad looks to be superbly built. Only one way to see if it pays off now.