Tranmere return to action tonight as they entertain Leyton Orient at Prenton Park in a game which is to be screened live on BT Sports.
To many neutrals, seeing Rovers and Orient about to tackle each other in non-league will seem a bit odd. It doesn’t feel much better for those connected with either club. While we can look angrily at smaller outfits occupying positions one, two and even three divisions higher, the reality is we both deserve to be down here.
For Rovers, theoretically at least, the adaption to non-league is two years further advanced than Orient’s. Indeed, fans of the London club will be currently going through those emotions we have suffered yet tried not to accept them as the norm – getting spanked by part-timers, home and away. Googling the opposition for a clue as to where they are located. Recognising absolutely nobody on the opposition team.
Despite a feeble start to the new season, Tranmere will still fancy their chances of rallying to a play-off finish at least. After amassing 95 points last season, the bulk of the squad remains together and as the likes of Ben Tollitt return to fitness, and Micky Mellon adds some fresh faces, we should definitely see a recovery of sorts.
For Orient, it’s even more uncertain. They currently sit one point and two places higher than Rovers in the table and have endured typical non-league frustrations, including a 3-0 home defeat to Halifax, losing at Boreham Wood and getting smashed for six at Bromley. Welcome to the National League.
If there is one thing that Tranmere fans have grudgingly become accustomed to, it’s that you cannot take anything for granted against teams in this division. Even the seemingly obscure part-time teams are capable of turning up and making life tricky before running off with a winning goal in the 7th minute of stoppage time. Stoppage time that they have created by time wasting from the first minute.
Tonight’s game is actually huge for both clubs. Victory could push either team back in to the top half of the table and looking toward the play-off positions.
For Tranmere, it would also be back-to-back victories for the first time this season following the last-gasp win at Bromley on Saturday. With another home game to come on Saturday against local rivals Chester, it’s a week that could transform Rovers’ season.
Orient are without a win in five and need to get a foothold before they slip further toward the sinking-sand of the relegation spots. Avoiding them at any point in the season is important – just ask York fans. Saturday’s 2-1 home reverse against 10 men Fylde didn’t go down well with the home fans and a reaction is demanded.
It should be an interesting night!