It’s a huge game for Tranmere Rovers this weekend as high-flying Ipswich Town visit Prenton Park in Sky Bet League One.
Rovers are in desperate need of points, embroiled in a relegation battle and currently sitting in the drop zone alongside Southend United and Bolton Wanderers.
A point on the road against fellow strugglers Southend last week was a double edged sword.
The 0-0 draw was a bit of a drab affair in tricky windy conditions, but a clean sheet and appearing more stable at the back was the positive to draw from the game.
However, in our predicament, you can’t help but feel that we need to be picking up wins against sides in and around us if we are to drag ourselves out of the relegation zone and survive for another season in League One next term.
There were other positives we can take from the game. The debut of Alex Woodyard, a new signing from Peterborough United who should be a great addition to the squad and who had a solid first game in a white shirt.
We also saw the return to the matchday squad of Liam Ridehalgh and Ollie Banks, as well as Harvey Gilmour who had featured in the EFL Trophy a few days earlier, so players are beginning to return to fitness and that will strength the squad we are able to put out on matchday.
Ahead of tomorrow’s game, boss Micky Mellon has informed us that Scott Davies is fit to return, while Rushian Hepburn-Murphy and Connor Jennings should also be available for selection.
The returnees are key players and, maybe as important, key characters to the squad. Their returns should only be a benefit to the team and will hopefully help us in this quest for survival until the end of the season. We’ll need to keep as many players fit as possible to give ourselves the best chance of staying up this campaign.
Easier said than done, though, especially given the state of the pitch. We’ve seen in recent weeks that it’s not been in the best shape, seemingly made worse by the recent Storm Brendan which caused the postponement of Tuesday night’s FA Cup replay with Watford.
The ball getting stuck in the mud brought back memories of years gone by, when most pitches were in that state at this time of the year.
Times have changed, though, and you imagine that it may sap players’ energy and potentially provoke an injury or two if it continues to be so problematic. Of course, we hope it doesn’t lead to that, but it’s a concern, and I’m sure the groundstaff will be working tirelessly to get it into the best condition they possibly can.
So to Saturday’s opponents, Ipswich Town, who currently sit in third in the League One standings.
They’re unsurprisingly battling away at the top end of the table with a strong squad which boasts a familiar name in James Norwood.
The former Tranmere man has reached double figures in terms of goals so far this season, and we all know what a threat he can pose.
That said, so does Micky Mellon and the players, so perhaps that will work to our advantage. They know him as well as anyone and hopefully can nullify his impact on the game.
Despite their lofty league position, Ipswich’s recent form is far from impressive. Victory over Accrington Stanley last weekend ended a 13-match run without a win.
The next game is going to be the biggest game for Rovers until we’re in a position of secured survival. The FA Cup replay must be put on the back burner, it’s league points we need and to make Prenton Park the fortress it has previously been.