Tranmere’s form this season has been the very definition of the word ‘indifferent’. But as a busy Christmas period approaches, Micky Mellon’s team may have positioned themselves well for a New Year promotion challenge.
The form has seen Tranmere turn-in some good performances, some bad, and numerous mediocre ones. It saw Rovers head in to the game with Maidstone last Saturday in 14th position.
As they finally flexed some muscle in the 4-0 triumph over Maidstone, the defence looked strong and the team also showed a clinical edge that deserted them a few days earlier at Macclesfield. In truth, it’s deserted them much of the season.
In thrashing Maidstone, who were a decent team at this level, Tranmere finally lifted themselves back in to the top half of the table. Inexplicably, it took them top of the National League form guide over the last 10 games as well. An illustration, if ever it were needed, of what a weak league this is.
The gap to the now-extended play-offs is down to four points, and while that was barely even a minimum requirement in August, most Tranmere fans would likely grab a play-off spot with both hands right now.
However, the gap to top was still only eight points, meaning they are not out of the title race. Eight points to Sutton United, who top the table once again. Interestingly, Rovers travel to Sutton two days before Christmas – never before did we think we’d describe a league game away to Sutton United as massive. But it truly could be.
If Tranmere beat Torquay at Prenton Park in the only league fixture between now and the Sutton match, there is an outside chance that we could be eating our Christmas turkey within a few points of the league leaders – perhaps two, if Sutton remain there (highly unlikely scenario if they lose back-to-back games).
New Year – New Optimism?
The fact is, if Rovers can turn in performances in these two pre-Christmas league matches, and then take three points off Fylde at Prenton Park on Boxing Day, Micky Mellon’s team could go in to the New Year in a very strong position indeed.
December sees quite a few interesting clashes which will mean teams around the top are going to drop points. Macclesfield host Wrexham on the 9th, while Wrexham then play at home to Dover the week after. We all know how unpredictable this league us at the best of times, so points will continue to be dropped left, right and centre.
Let’s not forget as well the strength in this squad. For all of our justifiable moans and groans we’ve had this season, we still have a huge list of players that should see action at some point in January or February 2018, if not sooner.
Here is a list of players that were not available for the win over Maidstone, for instance:
And if we really struggle, we could always recall James Alabi, George Waring or Andy Mangan from their loan spells.
Micky Mellon must find a way of maintaining his sides’ clinical edge as they head in to the remainder of the season, while the defence needs to maintain the strength it has displayed for the last couple of seasons.