Tranmere’s fine form continued on Saturday when they blew Grimsby away at Prenton Park with a scintillating first half display.
A brace from James Vaughan and strikes from Peter Clarke and Otis Khan had Rovers holding a four-goal lead at the break, with Paul Lewis adding a fine fifth for the home side late on.
It builds on a superb upturn in form since Mike Jackson’s departure as manager, with Tranmere looking like formidable opponents.
Here are five things to take from the match:
1) James Vaughan is almost guaranteed goals at this level
When Micky Mellon brought James Vaughan in on loan last season, he made quite an impression before Rovers were demoted by the EFL. He looked more than capable of scoring goals in League One and hit 3 in 8 matches. So, when the announcement was made that he had returned on a permanent basis in the summer, it felt like a real positive.
And that’s exactly how it’s turned out to be. Vaughan has 10 goals to his name already this season, seven of which are in the league. He is a real handful for defenders and adds that physical edge to our attacking play. More importantly, he is a proper goal scorer. He scores tap ins, headers, first-time finishes, penalties and just about every other type of centre forwards goals and gives a focal point to our attack. Keeping him fit will be crucial.
2) The shackles are off
The biggest problem we had at the start of the season under Jackson was the team seemed to be incapable of attacking. Despite having a wealth of quality attacking players, very few chances were created. Fast forward a few weeks, and Rovers looked like scoring every time they went forward against Grimsby. The likes of Morris, Khan, Blackett-Taylor and Feeney are flourishing in the new attacking setup and with the likes of Woolery and Ferrier coming off the bench, it spells danger for opposition teams.
3) Diamonds are forever…or at least until Tuesday
Grimsby boss Ian Holloway did a great interview with local radio following the game on Saturday. The passionate Mariners’ manager was fuming with his players, but it also sounded like his scout may be in some bother. Holloway said that his scouting reports had failed to identify that Rovers play with a diamond formation. Given that this has been the system for the last few games, it’s hard to figure out why his information was so wrong.
That said, the way Rovers go about their business with this system makes it hard for even the most prepared teams to deal with them. It’s brought the best out of summer recruits Jay Spearing and Otis Khan while also given Rovers much more of an attacking intent. Carlisle will be a tough game on Tuesday night, but expect to see the diamond lining up once again.
4) CBT is on fire
Corey Blackett-Taylor has been in explosive form since returning from injury. There has never been any doubt about his ability and if Rovers can keep him fit for the remainder of the season then they’ll have some player on their hands. He’s been deployed alongside James Vaughan in a striker’s role in recent weeks and looks absolutely lethal there. His partnership with Tranmere’s top goal scorer is going to take some dislodging.
5) Spearing and Khan are finding their feet
The whole Tranmere team had a tough opening month or two to the season. New boys Jay Spearing and Otis Khan took some time to get up to speed but the new system has certainly helped them do that. Spearing has now been able to concentrate on what he does best, breaking play up and getting the team moving.
Khan’s confidence has shot up following his goal at Harrogate and he is getting better every game. Comfortable to run at defences and take a shot from distance, he scored a great goal on Saturday having struck the crossbar at Vale seven days earlier with a similarly spectacular effort.