By Joel Lampkin
“First versus second – it does not get bigger than that” the words echoed by manager Micky Mellon ahead of this Tuesday’s must win fixture where a victory could define Tranmere Rovers’ season.
The prospect of yet another season in the wilderness of the National League looked an increasing reality in the early months but now a fair shot at automatic promotion no longer looks a dream away.
Tranmere remain one of, if not the biggest team outside of the Football League and their failure to advance against Forest Green Rovers last season was met with sheer disbelief.
However, an impressive turnaround has saw The Super Whites gatecrash the promotion party and now Macclesfield Town stand in their way in what may be the biggest game in the National League.
With Rovers taking maximum points at home in their last nine fixtures, Prenton Park once again plays host to the performance of Micky Mellon’s men as they look to take advantage of the visitor’s collapse.
Failure to pay staff and behind the scenes issues has loosened The Silkmen’s grip on the title and a winning run has witnessed a rebirth of Tranmere with an influx of players recently returning to the side.
The cast of Ben Tollitt, Jake Kirby, Scott Davies, Adam Buxton and James Wallace could be heralded as significant and could all have a key part to play as Rovers sit just four points off top spot.
However, in spite of this, it is the spine of The Super Whites that has been so important in their form, from James Norwood’s tireless work rate to Steve McNulty’s leadership – all have showed they have what it takes to spark a title challenge.
Macclesfield may have recorded victories in their previous three games but the wins have been merely paper over the cracks at The Moss Rose, with their opening five fixtures of 2018 seeing them pick up just five points out of a possible 16 while conceding nine – including SIX against AFC Fylde.
Now that they seem to have steadied the ship, the question marks over how players and staff were not paid still lingers and a loss at Prenton Park this Tuesday may only exasperate the problems further meaning; the bubble may be about to burst for The Silkmen.