Tranmere are enjoying a fine start to life back in the EFL as they look to climb back to former heights, and one of the shining lights in recent weeks has been on-loan midfielder Harvey Gilmour.
Gilmour arrived from Sheffield United on a brief trial in the summer. It was a trial with a view to a loan move and after only a few days training with Micky Mellon’s squad and one outing in a pre-season friendly, terms were agreed to allow Gilmour to switch to Prenton Park.
Initially, the player is here until January, but fans will be hoping the youngster stays around until the end of the season.
Early signs of promise
It was the summer friendly against Liverpool in which Gilmour made that first Tranmere appearance. He showed glimpses of quality in the middle of the park, also playing a ball through which forced a mistake from James Milner and led to Amadou Soukouna’s goal.
He scored in a friendly against Rochdale and went in to the season as one of a host of central midfielders. It was arguably Tranmere’s strongest position and Gilmour appeared at least fourth in the pecking order.
However, a week in to the season, Ollie Norburn left to join Shrewsbury for an undisclosed fee. Subsequently, it was reported that Norburn had been after a move for some time, something which made Gilmour’s move make a little more sense.
Jay Harris started the campaign in the centre of midfield, but his red card at Swindon led to experienced midfielder Luke McCullough arriving on loan from Doncaster. He nailed down a starting spot in midfield alongside Ollie Banks.
While Gilmour showed glimpses of promise in some fleeting substitute appearances, it was a change in formation in the home match with league leaders Lincoln City a couple of weeks ago that really changed things.
Making a big impression
At half-time, Rovers were tied 0-0 with the league leaders but in truth were being out-played all over the pitch. Micky Mellon made a bold move – he switched from a 4-4-2 to a 4-5-1, replacing striker Cole Stockton with Gilmour.
It was a change that would ultimately lead to three consecutive wins. Gilmour thrived in the three-man central midfield area. The experience and discipline of McCullough and Banks allowed Harvey to play with some freedom.
He was soon comfortable in possession of the ball, and equally as happy to go and win it back. His vision and range of passing was a potent weapon. Rovers would go on to snatch an impressive 1-0 win over the Imps, a win that raised eyebrows across the division.
A few days later, and Mellon opted to start the Morecambe game with the same system. Gilmour started and was instrumental throughout. After falling a goal behind, Ollie Banks levelled before a brave diving header from Gilmour put Tranmere in front before half-time – his first senior goal.
Tranmere moved up through the gears and opened up a 3-1 lead before somehow the game flicked back to 3-3. With the team looking out on their feet, a lung-busting run from Bakayogo saw the full-back pull the ball back for Gilmour. Full of confidence, the youngster struck a sumptuous first-time effort which curled over the goalkeeper and in off the back post. The most dramatic of last-gasp winners.
The run for Rovers and Harvey continued last Friday night, a close and edgy game settled in style as Gilmour struck home a superb effort from outside the box to secure a priceless 1-0 success.
As Tranmere look toward perhaps mounting a play-off challenge, Gilmour has become a real success story in the early weeks of the season. Mellon is not shy of stating his admiration of the player, describing him as a “breath of fresh air” and stating that he “just wants to play football”.
In an age of over-paid, arrogant youngsters who have been mollycoddled through academies and are reluctant to play anything other than U23 football with their mates at big clubs, Gilmour truly is a refreshing change.
He has blossomed under the guidance of McCullough and Banks, while skipper Steve McNulty has also been a big influence. So much so, Gilmour described him as being “like our Dad” on the pitch following that win over Lincoln.
It’s important to also note the importance of the new 4-5-1 system. It allows Gilmour that time and space to play with the creative freedom both he and the team needs. Those around him in that set-up have been key.
Here’s hoping Gilmour continues to develop at Rovers and that the club can secure an extension to his current loan.