It’s not all about scoring goals, and the return to form of Tranmere’s former Fleetwood Town goalkeeper Scott Davies should not be ignored as Rovers chase down league leaders Macclesfield Town.
It’s five wins on the spin now for Micky Mellon’s team with two consecutive clean sheets. Rovers are bang in-form, and while the goalscoring exploits of Andy Cook and James Norwood are rightly taking much of the limelight, the form of keeper Scott Davies has been vital.
Rewind a couple of months, and things were much different. Davies was receiving criticsm from some fans after a couple of below-par performances. It wasn’t so much his all-round performances, but instead a couple of high-profile mistakes in key games that were raising questions among some fans.
The reason he got the attention for these errors was probably two-fold. Firstly, as noted, they were during big games. At least one of the goals in the crunch game with Macclesfield should have been stopped. The second reason is simply due to the fact his form since joining Rovers in 2015 had been excellent for the most part.
He has shown consistency following period over several years when the club had failed to have a decent level of goalkeeping on a consistent basis. Even Welsh international Owain Fon-Williams arguably made many more costly mistakes than Davies, and didn’t command his penalty area nearly as well as Davies.
During this difficult period, online stick from so-called fans on social media became so bad that at one-point earlier this year Davies appeared to briefly delete his Twitter account.
However, he was soon back online, and soon back in-form.
Clean sheet specialist
Make no mistake about it, Davies has been a quality signing for Rovers since arriving in the summer of 2015 and has saved many more points than he has cost us. Even recently, stunning saves against the likes of Eastleigh have come at crucial times in matches that have helped set Tranmere up to go on and win.
During an era when fans have questioned the character of players in certain scenarios, Davies’ return to form certainly shows a self-confidence and strength of character we need.
It’s no surprise that when it comes to clean sheets, along with his back four, Davies has an impressive record. He has kept clean sheets in 42% of his appearances this season – that’s 16 in 38. Putting it in to context, only two goalkeepers have kept more clean sheets in this division; Mitch Walker of Dover and Grant Smith of Boreham Wood.
They each have two more clean sheets (18), but have played six more games each – both ever-presents for their respective clubs.
Last season, Davies was the National League’s best when it came to clean sheets with 21 from 48 appearances.
“What about 2015/16?”, I hear you say? Well, in Rovers’ first in the National League, Davies was also the division’s best in a team that failed to reach the play-offs. He kept 18 clean sheets in 45 matches.
While clean sheets are down to the strength of the defence as well, there is no doubt, Rovers are in safe and experienced hands in the final weeks of the season.
Long may the clean sheets continue.