It’s third top at home against third bottom in League One this weekend as Tranmere Rovers travel to Adams Park to take on Wycombe Wanderers.
League positions and recent form suggest that there’s only one likely outcome, a home victory. But can Micky Mellon’s side overturn those factors to pick up a vital three points in the quest to stave off relegation?
It’s undoubtedly going to be a tough test for Rovers, but a win at Wycombe in adversity has already taken place this season.
After a 2-2 draw in the First Round of the FA Cup, few people tipped Rovers to pull off a victory away from home in the replay against the then League One table-toppers.
That number would have decreased further after Tranmere went a goal AND a man down in the first half, but lo and behold, Mellon’s team produced an awesome comeback showing plenty of fight, passion and determination to pull off a 2-1 win after extra time against all odds.
They’ll need to draw on all those positive qualities again on Saturday if they are to pick up a positive result.
It’s been a tough period for Rovers in the last few weeks, with games coming thick and fast, but sadly points less so.
The Super White Army won’t need reminding that Tranmere have failed to score in each of their last six matches and have won just once in their last 15 league outings. It doesn’t make for pleasant reading.
Rovers need to turn that all on its head, and while there have been very few signs in recent times of that happening, football is a funny old game and things can change quickly as they have done in the past. As supporters, we need to keep believing that until it’s mathematically impossible to remain in the division.
Last weekend’s postponement at Rochdale could have helped Tranmere. After a period of incessant football, the squad had a chance to get some physical and mental rest, recharge the batteries and get ready to go again.
It’s given Micky Mellon and the coaching staff a bit more time to work on things on the training ground, and for the new players signed in the January transfer window to bed themselves in properly.
You’ll recall last season, the likes of Kieron Morris and Ben Pringle took a bit of time to settle into things before we saw an amazing upturn in results and that long unbeaten run. Lightning can strike twice, right?
Another positive from the postponement is that it has given more time for recovery from injury for a number of key individuals.
Peter Clarke was set to return at Spotland last week, but with an additional week under his belt, he’ll be better placed for that return to action at Adams Park this weekend instead.
As I’ve written previously on here, he’s going to be a big influence on our team with his experience and leadership at the back, and to have him at the heart of the defence will be a big plus for the team.
Kane Wilson and Calum Woods have both returned to training and the two full-backs could be in contention for a place in the matchday squad too.
And Ollie Banks could be closer to a first team return after having played 68 minutes in the Cheshire Senior Cup in midweek. Saturday may be a tad too soon for the midfielder, but a step closer is good news.
He offers creativity, always looking to play that killer forward ball, and I think his involvement will help us from a goalscoring perspective in getting quality balls into the likes of Andy Cook, James Vaughan, Morgan Ferrier and Stefan Payne.
Looking at Saturday’s game, Wycombe are a good side, they wouldn’t be sat where they are in the league standings if they weren’t. They’re a powerful team, who use their strengths incredibly effectively.
But, belief should be taken from that against the odds triumph at Adams Park earlier in the season. With a man short, we overcame those opposition qualities to comeback from a goal behind to get through that FA Cup tie.
It would be better if we stay with 11 men on the field and don’t go a goal behind though please lads!
So, a tough game but, as they are are now, a vitally important one. Come on Rovers!