League One Preview

This season marks the return of third-tier football to Prenton Park. Rovers’ last game in League 1 was a depressing 2-1 defeat to Bradford way back in May 2014. The SuperWhites return after a 5-year absence and following a truly magnificent campaign where we clinched back-to-back promotions by defeating Newport in the League 2 play off final in May.

In this article, I will be covering the 23 sides who we will meet during the season. I will be highlighting their key players, managers, previous meetings and some of their more prominent summer arrivals and departures.

Accrington Stanley

The 2019/2020 season will be Accrington’s 2nd season back in League 1. Stanley, managed by a local lad, John Coleman, finished 14th in the league last season. They’ve been in the news recently after defeating French giants Marseille 2-1 in a pre-season friendly, Marseille fielded ex-Premier League stars such as Dimitri Payet and Florian Thauvin. Their danger men are Billy Kee and Sean McConville. Both Kee and McConville netted 15 times last season, with the latter scoring them goals from midfield along with 8 assists. Our last meeting with the Lancashire side was a 3-0 victory in January 2015.

  • Zaine Francis-Angol from Fylde
  • Joe Maguire from Fleetwood
  • Joe Pritchard from Bolton
  • Piero Mingoia to Boreham Wood
  • Ben Richards-Everton to Bradford
  • Scott Brown to Harrogate
  • Jonny Maxted to Exeter

AFC Wimbledon

The upcoming season will be a building campaign for AFC Wimbledon. The Dons finished 20th last season and survived relegation on goal difference, an impressive achievement considering they were bottom of the league in the middle of March. Their manager, Wally Downes, is entering his second season with AFC Wimbledon. His only other previous managerial role came as Brentford manager between 2002 and 2004, he also had a spell as Kerala Blasters assistant manager in the 16-17 season. Dons’ danger man is certainly their prolific striker Joe Pigott, he scored 18 goals last season. Our previous 2 meetings with Wimbledon both ended in stalemates, a 1-1 draw in March 2015 is the most recent.

  • Nathan Trott from West Ham
  • Luke O’Neill from Gillingham
  • Michael Folivi from Watford
  • Toby Sibbick to Barnsley
  • James Hanson to Grimsby
  • Deji Oshilaja to Charlton

Blackpool FC

Blackpool, who finished 10th last season, will be hoping to make a promotion push this season. There have been numerous positive changes happening both on and off the pitch for the club, Simon Sadler has taken over as the club’s new owner. The Tangerines were managed by Terry McPhillips last season. But the man at the helm for them this year is Simon Grayson, Grayson’s first managerial job was at the Seasiders. Their key players include former Tranmere striker Armand Gnanduillet, he scored 13 goals last season. They also have experience in the likes of Nathan Delfouneso and ex Liverpool midfielder, Jay Spearing. They currently also employ former Rovers winger Ben Tollitt, Ben left Rovers in the Summer. Our last match against Blackpool, excluding friendlies, ended in a 3-2 defeat at Bloomfield Road in April 2007.

  • Adi Yussuf from Solihull Moors
  • Jamie Devitt from Carlisle
  • Ryan Edwards from Plymouth
  • Ryan Hardie & Jak Alnwick from Rangers
  • Scott Quigley to Barrow
  • Chris Long to Motherwell
  • Mark Cullen to Port Vale

Bristol Rovers

The Pirates, who sailed in at a respectable 15th place last season, have been making a slow decline in League 1, falling from their high 10th place finish in 16-17 to a 13th place finish in 17-18 to a 15th place finish in 18-19. Their manager, Graham Coughlan, is entering his first full season in professional management, this is after taking over as caretaker boss in December 2018 and eventually becoming permanent manager in January 2019. Jonson Clarke-Harris topped their scoring list last season with a total tally of 11 goals. We recently signed Stefan Payne from the Bristol club, he will be looking forward to line up against them next season. Our last meeting with The Gas was in the FA Cup in 2014, a 1-0 victory for Tranmere set up a second round tie with Oxford Utd.

  • Tom Davies from Coventry
  • Luke Leahy from Walsall
  • Mark Little from Bolton
  • Stefan Payne to Tranmere
  • Daniel Leadbitter to Newport
  • Tom Lockyer to Charlton
  • Chris Lines to Northampton

Burton Albion

Burton are about to embark on their second season in League 2 following relegation from the Championship in the 17/18 season. The Brewers, who line up at the Pirelli Stadium, are currently managed by Nigel Clough and have been since 2015. Albion finished 9th in League 1 last season and will be hoping to make a play off push this term. Their joint top scorer last season was former Rovers man Lucas Akins, he scored 14 goals along with Liam Boyce. In the 2 games Rovers and Albion have played against each other Burton have come out on top both times- last time we met Burton defeated us 4-1 at Prenton Park.

  • John-Joe O’Toole from Northampton
  • Richard Nartey from Chelsea
  • Ryan Edwards from Hearts
  • Kyle McFadzean to Coventry
  • Jamie Allen to Coventry
  • Marcus Harness to Portsmouth

Coventry City

Coventry enter the 19/20 League 1 campaign after an impressive 9th place finish last season. The Sky Blues will be hoping to mount a play off push this season, this could lead to them competing in their first Championship season since the 11/12 season. Coventry are currently managed by Mark Robins, who is in his second managerial spell with the West Midlands club. The Sky Blues will be playing at St. Andrews next season as a ground share with Championship side Birmingham. Jordi Hiwula netted 12 times last season for Cov, the former Man City striker will look to improve on that tally next season. Last time Rovers met City was in the 13/14 season when the Whites claimed all 3 points in a 3-1 victory, Ryan Lowe was on the score sheet.

  • Kyle McFadzean from Burton
  • Fankaty Dabo from Chelsea
  • Josh Pask from West Ham
  • Jordan Willis & Lee Burge to Sunderland
  • Conor Chaplin to Barnsley
  • Jack Grimmer to Wycombe
  • Jordan Ponticelli to Tranmere

Doncaster Rovers

Defeated by Charlton in the play offs last season, Doncaster will look to mount a stronger promotion push this campaign. New manager Darren Moore, formerly at West Brom, will be looking to have a successful first season with Donny. The Donny faithful had a lot to cheer about last season, the goals of John Marquis being a big contribution to their success. John scored 25 goals last season, 22 in the league. The last meeting between the 2 Rovers sides was in April 2013, Doncaster defeated us 1-0 in a crucial tie in the League 1 promotion race that season.

  • Reece James from Sunderland
  • Brad Halliday from Cambridge
  • Danny Andrew to Fleetwood
  • Andy Butler to Scunthorpe
  • Marko Marosi to Coventry

Fleetwood Town

Joey Barton’s men finished in 11th place last season and will look to climb further up the table this campaign. The Fishermen’s top scorer last season was Paddy Madden, who scored 19 goals, closely followed by Ched Evans, who scored 18. The Cod Army have made some excellent additions to their side during the transfer window, such as Jordan Rossiter from Rangers. The only competitive meeting between Tranmere and Fleetwood came in a 2-1 Fleetwood victory in the then Johnstone’s Paint Trophy back in 2013.

  • Josh Morris from Scunthorpe
  • Jordan Rossiter from Rangers
  • Paul Coutts from Sheffield United
  • Danny Andrew from Doncaster
  • Joe Maguire to Accrington
  • Ashley Nadesan to Crawley

Gillingham FC

There is a new manager in the hot seat at Priestfield, experienced manager Steve Evans has been given the task of helping Gillingham reach the next level. Gillingham finished 13th last season. Gillingham’s target man from last season, Tom Eaves, has departed the club this summer- he has joined Hull. Their danger man could well be new winger Mark Marshall who has recently joined the club from Charlton. In Tranmere and the Gills’ last meeting, we were defeated 2-0 in April 2014.

  • Mark Marshall from Charlton
  • Ousseynou Cisse from MK Dons
  • Stuart O’Keefe from Cardiff
  • Jack Bonham from Brentford
  • Alex Jakubiak from Watford
  • Tom Eaves to Hull
  • Tomas Holy to Ipswich
  • Luke O’Neill to AFC Wimbledon

Ipswich Town

Newly relegated Ipswich will face off against Tranmere this season for the first time since the 1999/2000 season. The Suffolk side, who are currently managed by Paul Lambert, will be hoping to make an immediate return to the Championship. Their key man is former Tranmere striker, James Norwood. James scored 32 goals last season for the Whites and will be fondly remembered by the Rovers faithful for years. Our last meeting finished 2-0 to Ipswich in March 2000.

  • James Norwood from Tranmere
  • Tomas Holy from Gillingham
  • Luke Garbutt from Everton
  • Ellis Harrison to Portsmouth
  • Jonas Knudsen to Malmo
  • Dean Gerken to Colchester

Lincoln City

The Imps are entering their first campaign in England’s third tier since the 1998/1999 season. The Cowley brothers have taken Lincoln by storm and have led them to 2 promotions, an FA Cup quarter final and a Checkatrade Trophy win- to say the duo are popular in Lincolnshire would be an understatement. Their top scorer last season was John Akinde, the former Barnet man scored 17 goals and will be hoping for similar numbers in League 1. Our last meeting with the Imps was a 0-0 draw on Easter Monday, the result saw Lincoln win promotion.

  • Alex Bradley from West Brom
  • Jack Payne from Huddersfield
  • Joe Morrell from Bristol City
  • Matt Rhead to Billericay

MK Dons

MK Dons make their return to League 1 this season after only one season away. The Dons are currently managed by former Exeter boss Paul Tisdale. MK’s danger man this season will most certainly be last season’s top scorer, Kieran Agard. The Dons won promotion on the final day of the season ahead of Mansfield in a winner take all game. Our last meeting with MK came in April, a 2-1 victory for the SWA came thanks to goals from David Perkins and Connor Jennings.

  • Hiram Boateng from Exeter
  • Jordan Bowery from Crewe
  • Brennan Dickenson from Colchester
  • Rhys Healey from Cardiff
  • Chuks Aneke to Charlton
  • Ousseynou Cisse to Gillingham
  • Ryan Watson to Northampton

Oxford United

Oxford lost only 2 games between the middle of February and the end of the campaign last season, that momentum could help carry Oxford to a successful season. A 12th place finish is what is in the history books for Karl Robinson’s side. The former MK Dons boss will be eager to move forward with the U’s and one day earn his second promotion from League 1, his first coming with MK back in the 14/15 season. Oxford’s top scorer last season was James Henry, he netted 13 times and claimed 5 assists from the wing- James will be looking to have a big impact on Oxford’s season again. Last time Rovers faced off against the Yellows it was in April 2015, a game wildly considered to be one of the worst in recent history- a spineless 3-0 defeat saw Rovers one game from relegation to the National League.

  • Sam Allardyce from Bury
  • Alex Gorrin from Motherwell
  • Tarique Fosu from Charlton
  • Armani Little to Torquay
  • Charlie Raglan to Cheltenham
  • Curtis Nelson to Cardiff

Peterborough United

Peterborough, who just missed out on the play offs last season, will be hoping for a more successful end to the season this time around. The Posh’s top goal scorer last season was Ivan Toney, the former Newcastle man found the net 20 times over the course of the campaign. They have been one of the most active sides in the division this transfer window, catapulting cash left, right and centre. They are entering the season under the guidance of Darren Ferguson, son of legendary manager Sir Alex. This season marks the start of Darren’s third spell with the club, he has already won promotion with the club on a number of occasions. 3 of our last 5 meetings with Peterborough have ended in a 5-0 defeat for Rovers, the most recent coming in November 2017 in the FA Cup.

  • Frankie Kent from Colchester
  • Dan Butler from Newport
  • Christy Pym from Exeter
  • Mark Beevers from Bolton
  • George Boyd from Sheffield Wednesday
  • Mo Eisa from Bristol City
  • Ryan Tafazolli to Hull
  • Morgan Penfold to Barrow


From a side who just missed out on the play offs to a side who were beaten in them, Portsmouth will soon enter their third season back in League 1 and will be eager to get out of the division on this attempt. Pompey will play host for our first away game back in League 1 in over 5 years. The side are currently managed by Kenny Jackett, formerly of Wolves and Millwall. Pompey were defeated by Sunderland in the play off semi final last season. Their top scorer last season, Jamal Lowe, has been linked with a move away to Wigan in the Championship- should this move come to fruition it definitely won’t be an easy hole for Portsmouth to cover. The last time Rovers played Pompey was in February 2015, Rovers led 2-0 in the 75th minute before we collapsed- 3 goals in the final 15 minutes led to a 3-2 defeat at Fratton Park.

  • James Bolton from Shrewsbury
  • Paul Downing from Blackburn
  • Ryan Williams from Rotherham
  • Sean Raggett from Norwich
  • Marcus Harness from Burton
  • Matt Clarke to Brighton
  • Adam May to Swindon
  • Dion Donohue to Mansfield

Rochdale AFC

Rovers’ first game in League 1 after a 5-year hiatus will come against Rochdale, the side finished 16th last season, avoiding relegation by 4 points. Brian Barry-Murphy’s men will hope they will not be scaling around the relegation zone as they were last season. Former Rochdale midfielder David Perkins currently operates in the heart of Rovers’ midfield. The Greater Mancunian club attract a small yet loyal fan base, this fan base has seen Dale in the third tier for the last 5 seasons. Dale’s top scorer last season was veteran striker Ian Henderson- he will again be their danger man this season, Ian has made over 200 appearances for the club. The last time Rovers and Dale met competitively was in March 2012, Rovers won 2-0 at Spotland.

  • Rekeil Pyke from Huddersfield
  • Robert Sanchez from Brighton
  • Daniel Adshead to Norwich
  • Jordan Williams to Fylde
  • Brad Inman to Brisbane Roar

Rotherham United

Rotherham were relegated from the Championship at the end of last season. The Yorkshire side, currently managed by Paul Warne, have won the League 1 play offs twice in the last 5 seasons and they will hope history can repeat itself once again. Former Rovers player, Will Vaulks departed Rotherham in the summer for Cardiff. Their key player this season will be Freddie Ladapo, the striker scored 19 goals for Plymouth last season as they were relegated to League 2. The last meeting between Rovers and the Millers came in January 2014, the game finished 2-1 to Rotherham.

  • Freddie Ladapo from Plymouth
  • Shaun MacDonald from Wigan
  • Dan Barlaser from Newcastle
  • Daniel Iverson from Leicester
  • Will Vaulks to Cardiff
  • Semi Ajayi to West Brom
  • Dominic Ball to QPR
  • Ryan Williams to Portsmouth
  • Darren Potter to Tranmere

Shrewsbury Town

The Shropshire side will be hoping for an improvement on last season, they started the season under the management of former Macclesfield manager John Askey. John was sacked in November as the club sat 18th in the division, well short of expectations set 6 months earlier when the Shrews fans were supporting the club at Wembley in a play off final- a game which they lost to Rotherham. Sam Ricketts, who took over in December after managing Wrexham, will be hoping to bring Shrews fans a successful season. Ollie Norburn, who performed sensationally in midfield for TRFC in 17/18, scored a stunning 11 goals and assisted 5 from midfield last season for Shrewsbury- Ollie will certainly be one to look out for this season. The last time we met the Salopians in the league was in February 2015: Rovers were 2-1 winners over Shrewsbury, who were then managed by Micky Mellon, in our bid to survive relegation.

  • Donald Love from Sunderland
  • Aaron Pierre from Northampton
  • Steve Morison from Millwall
  • Mat Sadler to Walsall
  • Doug Loft to Billericay
  • James Bolton to Portsmouth
  • Aaron Amadi-Holloway to Brisbane Roar

Southend United

Southend, who play their football at Roots Hall, were one of the many teams entangled in the immense relegation battle in League 1 last season, they will be hoping for a less difficult trajectory as the season pans out this time. The Essex side are currently managed by Kevin Bond, whose most recent job in management before the Shrimpers was with Hong Kong Pegasus. Simon Cox scored 17 times for Southend last season, Cox’s goals were influential in keeping the Blues in the division. Keeping Cox fit is crucial this season. The last time Rovers met the Shrimpers we were defeated 1-0 at Roots Hall in April 2015.

  • Mark Milligan from Hibs
  • Nathan Ralph from Dundee
  • Ben Coker (released)

Sunderland A.F.C.

Sleeping giants in League 1, Sunderland enter their second successive season in the third tier after their defeat to Charlton in last season’s play off final. The club were steered to the play off final under Jack Ross. Ross will be eager to take Sunderland back to the Championship this season. The Black Cats have succeeded in keeping hold of Republic of Ireland international and former Everton winger Aiden McGeady, Aiden was Sunderland’s top scorer over the course of the season with 12 goals. Sunderland have had a torrid few years, with a lot of it being documented on Netflix on the show ‘Sunderland Till I Die’. The last time the Whites and The Black Cats met was in January 2000, Tranmere won 1-0 against Sunderland in the FA Cup 4th round- the 1999/2000 season saw us reach the FA Cup quarter final and the League Cup final.

  • Conor McLaughlin from Millwall
  • Lee Burge & Jordan Willis from Coventry
  • George Dobson from Walsall
  • Marc McNulty from Reading
  • Robbin Ruiter to PSV
  • Reece James to Doncaster
  • Lee Cattermole (released)

Wycombe Wanderers

Managed by club legend Gareth Ainsworth, Wycombe will be hoping to pull off another miraculous survival this season. Wycombe finished 17th last season and finished 3 points ahead of the relegation zone. ‘The beast’ Adebayo Akinfenwa scored 8 goals last season and was the Chairboys’ top scorer- however, Adebayo recently turned 37, could he potentially slow down in front of goal and see Wycombe slip into danger? The two clubs last met in March 2015, a 2-1 defeat at PP for Rovers saw us draw ever closer towards the trapdoor of L2’s bottom 2.

  • Paul Smyth from QPR
  • Jack Grimmer from Coventry
  • Jamie Mascoll from Charlton
  • Paris Cowan-Hall to Colchester
  • Michael Harriman (released)
  • Nathan Tyson (released)

Bolton Wanderers

Things are looking bleak for the Trotters after their relegation from the Championship. Bolton are heading into their 2nd League 1 campaign in 4 seasons. With only 7 players currently listed as first team on the club’s website, there are questions being asked of whether Bolton can even start the season. With 0 transfers being made and key players such as Sammy Ameobi and Josh Vela leaving the club, it is hard to name a danger man next season. The Greater Mancunian side are managed by Phil Parkinson. The club will begin next season on -12 points due to their status being in administration. The last time TRFC met their old foes BWFC was in the 2013 League Cup, Rovers won on penalties.

  • None made
  • Sammy Ameobi to Nottingham Forest
  • Josh Vela to Hibs
  • Mark Beevers to Peterborough
  • Pawel Olkowski to Gazisehir
  • Craig Noone to Melbourne City

Bury FC

Bury are the second side that will start the campaign on -12 points. The Shakers have been in turmoil financially for quite a while. Ryan Lowe, who steered Bury to promotion last season, has left to go to Plymouth in League 2, as have many members of the squad. The club are currently managed by former Truro City manager Paul Wilkinson. The club could still be kicked out of the EFL in the coming weeks. Just like Bolton, Bury don’t have many players listed on their website. Jermaine Beckford is still with the club, Beckford is experienced at League 1 level and could be a star for the Shakers this season as they try to pull off a miracle. The last time we met the Shakers was back in April, a 1-1 draw at PP saw Bury win promotion.

  • None made
  • Danny Mayor, Will Aimson, Callum McFadzean, Byron Moore and Dom Telford to Plymouth
  • Nicky Maynard to Mansfield
  • Jay O’Shea to Brisbane Roar

Thank you for reading this summary, I hope to get my Rochdale preview and maybe something else up in the next week!

Back the lads and MM in L1!


William Gilbert

Email: willgilbert02@hotmail.com

Twitter: @WillTranmere_

Blog: WillGilbertReport