Is Tranmere Rovers’ quest for Vanarama National League promotion already over?

By Peter Tscherewik

Tranmere Rovers came into the 2017-18 season as the clear favourites to lift the National League title, but a shaky start to the campaign has halted their progress as they continue to stagger in the bottom-half of the league table.

When quizzed about the topic of promotion back in September, manager Micky Mellon brushed off any early criticism.

“We believe that we should be in a better position than what we’re in, but it’s still very early doors. 

He was asked whether the poor start had dampened his sides’ hopes of success for the season, and described the questioning as, ‘crazy’.

For good reason, the Super White Army still have very high hopes of playing within the football league next season. The club added several new additions in the summer transfer window, and it is fair to say that the overall squad is up there with the very best in the division in terms of personnel.

The biggest problem for Rovers so far this season has been their poor performances against sides within the top-half of the table. There are several matches that stick out as being games that Tranmere should won, no less than their derby fixture against rivals Chester in October.

Mellon’s side dominated the game from start to finish, but were ultimately unable to stick the ball in the back of the net. The two sides had to settle for a 0-0 draw in what was a thrilling affair for the 7,172 onlooking fans on Non-League Day.

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Fans watch on during Tranmere’s 0-0 draw with derby rivals Chester at Prenton Park

Another fixture that still lives sour in the memory is the defeat suffered to Wrexham at Prenton Park in late September. There have certainly been signs of promise, particularly against the top sides within the division but as of yet, no reward as previously mentioned.

There aren’t any significant derby fixtures lined up for the Rovers in the near future, but that isn’t to say that there aren’t any big games coming up. The side will take on Dagenham and Redbridge in November, in what already promises to be fierce fixture between the two sides at Prenton Park.

Rovers have recently secured the short-term loan signings of Dylan Mottley-Henry and Gerry McDonagh, and manager Micky Mellon will be hoping that the pair can help bolster the sides’ attack and in turn kick-on within the division leading into the Christmas period.

If Tranmere are to stand any chance of promotion this season, especially through the automatic slots then it is vitally important that they start to get wins on the board against other sides that are aiming for the top spots.

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