Yesterday’s defeat at Lincoln City was a game that pretty much summed up our season. We played decent football, seemed in control and still ended up with a defeat and another red card.
Rovers are now out of the bottom three on goal difference only over MK Dons. Our 3-1 success at Stadium MK back on 2nd November was our last league win and Micky Mellon needs to find a way for his team to come out of games with victories.
While the boss suggests a lot of hard work is happening and his team is improving, while that may be the case, it’s still not helping our league position.
So, heading in to next week’s massive game against AFC Wimbledon at Prenton Park, here are five things that Rovers must improve on if they’re to give themselves a chance of staying up.
This is arguably one of the biggest headaches Tranmere have had all season, an d it’s two-fold.
Firstly, we have conceded a ridiculous number of goals from set plays. For whatever reason, we’re losing the first and second balls on a high proportion of free-kicks and corners that are played into our box.
As frustrating is the attacking element. As we said in our Lincoln match report, despite the physical threat posed by the likes of Manny Monthe and Sid Nelson, Rovers barely ever look like scoring from a set play, and they don’t. This has to improve. Monthe especially needs to begin to dominate the opposition on set pieces.
- Physical threat in midfield
Rovers have a few issues in midfield due to injuries to both Harvey Gilmour and Ollie Banks. It means that veterans Perkins, Danns and Potter are the main three central midfielders available. While Connor Jennings and Kieron Morris have played through there, Tranmere lack a physical threat in the middle of the park.
Think Gary Jones, Tyrone Loran or even a Lois Maynard style player. Not easy on the eye, not ideal for every game, but will be priceless in certain situations. We don’t have a central midfielder available that offers any sort of aerial or physical threat. That may even be counting against us at set plays.
- Find a target man to play upfront
If you can keep them fit and away from suspensions, Ferrier, Blackett-Taylor and Hepburn-Murphy are a threat upfront. However, when we need to go long and make the ball stick, we don’t have anyone capable of winning the headers consistently, holding the ball up and bringing others in to play. Even an aerial threat for set pieces or for throwing off the bench when we need something late on. We’re too lightweight.
The result of this is that the ball comes back at us far too quickly. That then puts pressure on the midfield to chase and win the ball back – as we’ve just written, the midfield is ageing, chasing to win back possession for three quarters of the match isn’t ideal.
- Improve discipline
Regardless of what you think of Blackett-Taylor’s red card yesterday, Tranmere’s discipline is appalling and simply has to improve. Having a man sent off so frequently is killing us too often.
- Toughen up and do the horrible side of the game
The final point we want to pick up on today is how nice we are. Countless times up at Lincoln yesterday the home side got away with flicking the ball away, petty fouls and dissent. Rovers must wise up and begin to get in the referee’s ear more. Yes, ideally this wouldn’t play a part in football at all, but sadly many teams do it and it clearly influences officials. It’s time to play them at their own game.