Favourite to Choke in Wembley’s Battle of the Rovers

Tranmere and Forest Green meet in the National League play off final.

Tranmere and Forest Green will scrap over a place in the English Football League when they meet at Wembley Stadium on Sunday and one thinks that bookmakers are overrating the former in the high-stakes Battle of the Rovers.

As the biggest name in the English National League, Tranmere has had to deal with high expectations throughout its first term in England’s fifth tier and, while Rovers finished the 46-round competition on the ladder’s second rung, they flattered to deceive against the division’s top teams.

Tranmere could have no complaints that Lincoln pipped it to the English National League title because Rovers lost 0-1 at home to the Red Imps and they slumped to a 1-2 defeat on the road to the champions. Remarkably for a side that earned 95 points in its 46 English National League matches, Tranmere did not win any of its eight regular season games against the other teams that finished in the top five – Lincoln, Forest Green, Dagenham & Redbridge and Aldershot.

Three days after Tranmere smashed Solihull 9-0 at Prenton Park it hosted Forest Green in a hugely important English National League match and, not for the first time, Rovers capitulated under pressure – their namesakes snatched all three points courtesy of an 85th-minute winning goal. One will give credit where credit is due – Tranmere qualified for the English National League play-offs final with a 5-2 aggregate success over Aldershot – but one is unwilling to trust Rovers at favourite odds versus Forest Green.

Forest Green, which was not even in England’s fifth tier when Tranmere was going close to getting into the English Premier League under the late, great John King, was in the English National League championship mix at the halfway stage of the tournament but Rovers had a dodgy few months – November, December and January – and ended up in third position on 86 points. According to one’s English National League collateral form analysis, Forest Green got the better of Tranmere and Aldershot, while Rovers demonstrated that they were capable of beating Dagenham & Redbridge with a 3-1 aggregate win over the Daggers in the play-offs semi-finals.

One’s opposition to Tranmere in the English National League play-offs final is all about pressure. The English National League ladder is not lying about Tranmere and Forest Green because, according to one’s collateral form analysis, the former boasts a 12-2-9 advantage over the latter. Tranmere has outperformed Forest Green across the English National League competition but there should not be a massive gap between the two sets of Rovers in the betting on this weekend’s Wembley Stadium clash. Forest Green has everything to gain and nothing to lose so it can play with relative freedom, whereas it is imperative that Tranmere rebounds back into the English Football League at the first attempt.

Bet365 is offering odds of +110  that Forest Green, which is not liked in English National League circles because it has spent its way to England’s fifth tier, beats Tranmere by any method. But one is going to take a punt on Forest Green doing the business in normal time at odds of +220  with the same bookmaker. Forest Green scored in 36 of its 46 English National League games, netting 88 goals to be the division’s leading scorer. Therefore, one thinks that the second most likely draw of 0-0 is unlikely and supporting Forest Green in normal time at odds of +220  is more attractive than backing the underdog at odds of +110  by any method.

Forest Green to beat Tranmere
Sunday 14th May, 15:00 GMT
Odds:  +220

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