Tranmere gave fans cause for optimism on Saturday after they thrashed Maidstone 4-0 at Prenton Park. But why should we take hope from the game?
Pre-match on Saturday, a casual observer could have been forgiven for thinking Rovers should run-out comfortable victors. But look a little closer, and you will see the opposition were no push-overs.
Maidstone came in to the game on the back of a 4-0 home defeat by Boreham Wood. However, away from home they have been a different proposition. They had won their previous SEVEN away games in all competitions and arrived at Prenton Park looking to extend it to a club record eighth.
The key to Tranmere’s success was probably the early goal. James Norwood, who was guilty of missing a hat-full of chances at Macclesfield four days earlier, superbly finished first-time from a low Eddie Clarke cross on seven minutes.
It was the catalyst for Rovers to settle in to a game plan that suited them. In possession they were quick, precise and direct with their passing, constantly probing a Maidstone back four already struggling with the swirling wind.
On 16 minutes, Andy Cook once again showed good footwork before slotting home a second goal. It put Tranmere in control and allowed them to relax in to a deeper position and allow Maidstone to try and break them down.
Try they did, and predictably Maidstone did make a game of it at least. It was more through quality of their own than any fault of Tranmere’s if we’re being fair, and the signs were evident as to how they’d been so effective away from home recently.
Scott Davies made two tremendous saves at 2-0 to keep Rovers firmly in front, while the home side always threatened on the counter-attack. It was reassuring to see Tranmere for the most part defend strongly, but also be so sure of themselves going forwards.
There was a balance to their play, and young Eddie Clarke should take a great deal of credit for that with some great attacking runs at pace up the left.
The second half saw the visitors dominate again, but for all their lovely build-up play, they didn’t really create chances of note. Tranmere defended strongly, and when the chance came to attack, they took it by adding a further two goals.
Maidstone remained above Tranmere in the table following the result, and you cannot help but feel there is a decent side there, down in Kent.
For Tranmere however, despite the huge list of absentees, it was a performance that would have given any team in the National League a good game.
We’re in a strong position for a promotion challenge in the New Year.