It’s been a welcome return to action for Tranmere defender Mark Ellis.
The 31-year-old has recovered from a 10-month spell on the sidelines with a serious knee injury to bolster the Rovers squad as they bid to avoid relegation from League One.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the importance of his experience and leadership at the back to help us leaking so many goals, read here, and his defensive qualities have certainly helped.
He is a no-nonsense defender. Head it. Kick it. Get the ball away from our goal and clear the potential danger. And that has been on display in the two matches Ellis has been involved in since his return to the first team, at Shrewsbury and Accrington.
However, little did we predict the impact he would have at the other end of the pitch!
Not renowned for being much of a goalscorer, the former Crewe Alexandra man has popped up with two vitally important goals in each of those two fixtures which have helped Tranmere to two crucial victories to maintain hope of League One survival.
Goal machine! Much like Steve Yates from the late-90s/early 00s who scored some big goals for Rovers, including that famous brace at Goodison Park, despite having only scored twice in 11 years prior to arriving at Prenton Park!
Ellis has found himself in the right place at the right time, something our forwards could perhaps learn from, and his influence has definitely played a part in the upturn of results in the past two matches.
A well-respected member of the squad, his experience and League One know how is a big plus in such an important period.
Alongside the even greater experienced Peter Clarke, they have forged a strong partnership at the heart of the Rovers rearguard.
It is still early days in terms of that link and it should continue to improve the more they play together, especially as both are arguably still quite not at 100% fitness after their injury lay-offs.
Tranmere attempt to make it three wins in a row away at Blackpool on Tuesday evening with the Clarke-Ellis partnership sure to be tested by the Tangerines’ front line consisting of the likes of Gary Madine, Nathan Delfouneso and ex-Rovers loanee Armand Gnanduillet.
The fixture is one of the games in hand that Micky Mellon’s side have over AFC Wimbledon and Rochdale, the teams directly above them.
Neither of those sides are in action, giving Rovers an opportunity to close the gap to safety just three points, and putting those teams under increased pressure, particularly with meetings between the clubs coming up in the next couple of weeks.
It’s a hugely important period for the club, after the two wins have given us hope of a great escape. If we can extend the run to three victories, Steve McQueen might just be getting ready to make an appearance.