Phil Yelland takes a look at Tranmere Rovers’ previous visits to Barrow ahead of Tuesday night’s game at The Progression Solicitors Stadium.
Tuesday evening marks the 52nd game in all competitions between the teams at Holker Street and the 103rd meeting in all.
The first time the teams met was in the Lancashire Combination League Division Two back in the 1910/11 season. We had won 4-0 at Prenton Park in September before Rovers visited us the following April and we ran out 3-1 winners to complete the double.
Rovers joined Division Three North at the same time we did, in the 1921/22 season, and in March 1922 we won here 2-0 with top scorer that season Bernard Sharkey finding the net along with Frank McPherson.
We had to wait some time for a big win over Rovers at home but that arrived in February 1957 when we scored five times without reply. There was a hat-trick for Billy Gordon, supplemented by efforts from Bill Ormond and Brian Birch. However, Rovers got their revenge the following season when they won 4-1 here on our final game to be played on Christmas Day with Billy Gordon grabbing the consolation goal. Rovers also won by three clear goals in our opening home game of the 1969/70 season which was to end in relegation.
We have met in the National League, FA Cup and FA Trophy in more recent times. Our most recent meeting came in early January 2018 when a penalty taken by Byron Harrison gave us an early lead which we held on until injury time when James Norwood equalised. The Rovers side that day included three former Bluebirds in Steve McNulty, Andy Cook and former loanee Richie Sutton.
The previous season we won here – both in the FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round in October 2016 and the league. In the former, Richie Bennett (now at Stockport County) gave us the lead. Moussa Diarra (now at Havant & Waterlooville) put through his own goal to level things and Paul Turnbull (now at Curzon Ashton) struck a second half winner as we embarked on a run that ended with a Third Round defeat at home to Rochdale. Sutton, McNulty and Cook featured in that game as well. The League game in March 2017 saw a similar score with Cook giving Rovers a first half lead before Jordan Williams and Inih Effiong – who scored for Stevenage here at the start of the season and currently on loan at Barnet – notched our winner.
However, probably the most dramatic game at Holker Street took place in January 2016 and fans who were here will still have nightmares about it. We trailed to a first half Adam Mekki penalty before a penalty of our own from Jason Walker, a Simon Grand effort and a goal from Andy Cook put us 3-1 clear with just three minutes of normal time left. On 90 minutes Lois Maynard pulled a goal back, Jeff Hughes levelled two minutes into injury time and Jake Kirby scored the winner for Rovers six minutes into stoppage time.
Of previous meetings between the clubs here, we have won 26, there have been 14 draws and we have lost 11 times. Let’s hope Tuesday night brings win number 27 and we extend our current three match unbeaten home run against Rovers.