Statistical Analysis: Can Tranmere Rovers still win the Vanarama National League title?

By Peter Tscherewik

Following Saturday’s emphatic 4-0 away win against Dagenham and Redbridge, Tranmere Rovers remain in third place in the Vanarama National League table. Micky Mellon’s side are still seven points behind league leaders Macclesfield Town, who still have a game in hand on their rivals.

There are now nine games remaining in this 2017-18 campaign, and Rovers are going to have their work out if they are to end up at the top of the table come April 28. Can the team still achieve the ultimate goal? Time to do the math and find out…

The Averages

Last season Tranmere ended up finishing in second place, four points behind champions Lincoln City. The play-off final against Forest Green Rovers was a bitter pill to swallow, especially when you look at the Imps’ points tally from that season.

Lincoln City topped the table with 99 points, averaging a total of 2.15 points per game from their 46 matches in the 2016-17 campaign. Macclesfield Town have nine matches left this season, and are currently on 71 points. This only averages out at 1.97 points per game, which would see them finish on 90.6 points if they keep up their current average.

Tranmere are currently on 64 points, meaning they average 1.73 points per game. This figure would see them finish on 79 points from their 46 matches. With a possible 27 points on offer between now and the end of the season, Micky Mellon’s side are realistically going to need 23-27 of them if they are to stand any chance of pipping the Silkmen to the title.

(Stats via Soccerstats)

Screen Shot 2018-03-10 at 22.53.07

Current and Previous Form

In terms of looking at how the top sides are doing at the moment, it is very tight with regards to the last six domestic fixtures. Sutton United are the in-form team at the moment, with 16 points from a possible 18 taken (five wins, one draw). Macclesfield are second with 15 points (five wins, one loss) and Tranmere are close behind with 13 points, (four wins, one draw, one loss).

The loss was unfortunately the fixture against the league leaders at Prenton Park back in February, although Rovers have shown the same bounce back ability that they did after losing to AFC Fylde on New Years Day, with consecutive wins coming against Maidstone United and Dagenham and Redbridge.

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Micky Mellon fist pumps to the travelling Super White Army after beating Dagenham and Redbridge (Credit – Tony Coombes)

Rovers’ downfall across the 2017-18 campaign stems back to their poor start to the season. Micky Mellon’s side only won three of their first 10 matches, with three other draws and four losses. Harry Pritchard’s late winner for Maidenhead United back in September left Tranmere 16th, with only 12 points.

If we compare that to the last 10 matches the Super Whites have played, the team has taken 21 points from a possible 30 on offer. Rovers have won six, drawn 3 and lost once in 2018.

The Away Record

Micky Mellon’s side have six fixtures to play at Prenton Park because of the Gateshead postponement, and four away trips left. Rovers will face-off against promotion rivals Boreham Wood next week at Meadow Park, and have Dover Athletic, Chester and FC Halifax Town to follow between now and the end of the season.

The stats are stacked against Tranmere claiming four wins from four though, as a result of their poor away record this season. Rovers have only won six from 19 away matches this season (won six, drawn eight, lost five), and they have the eighth best points tally away from home in the division.

(Stats via Soccerstats)

Screen Shot 2018-03-10 at 22.29.40

Boreham Wood are eleventh in the home table (nine wins from 17) and Dover Athletic sit sixth (nine wins from 19). The fact that both sides are in good form and vying for play-off places stacks the odds further against the Super Whites.

A trip to Chester looks promising, but as previous encounters have shown the positions of the two teams in the table doesn’t count for as much in the cross-border derby. Tranmere have maintained the ‘take it one game at a time’ mentality right throughout this season, with James Norwood highlighting that in our exclusive interview with him.

The Fans View

The Super White Army have been out in force of late, with attendances soaring as results have improved in the recent weeks and months. Rovers are known for having an outstanding following, both home and away and the players are aware and grateful of the impact that they have as the twelfth man.

We asked our fans on Twitter if they think that the team can pip Macclesfield Town to the post, and this is how they voted…

Greg Clayton has over 3,000 subscribers on his YouTube channel, and is well-known within the Tranmere fanbase the vlogs that he produces from Tranmere’s matches.

Clayo remains hopeful that the team will be able to catch Macclesfield Town at the top of the table, but admits that the loss to the Silkmen last month has dented his confidence somewhat.

He said: “I was hoping that Macclesfield game would be the game where we close the gap on them, now if we win that game realistically I think the title is ours at that point…

“That seven point gap which could potentially be 10 points if they win their game in hand, I think realistically is too much for us to close down before the end of the season. It’d take an absolute catastrophe from Macclesfield for them to mess it up

You can watch all of what Greg had to say about Tranmere’s title challenge in the video below.

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