After defeat in last season’s play-off final Rovers fans have had to wait for their team to click this time but recent signs have pointed to a bright future
6 October ~ Tranmere’s rain-soaked win over Leyton Orient on Wednesday night has given Rovers fans an all too rare glimpse of this season’s most elusive of football commodities – the rub of the green. A fortunate deflection presented James Norwood with a point-blank headed winner, and with back-to-back victories for the first time this term, our woeful start may soon be forgotten if the team can build on this week’s extremely welcome six points.
At Wembley in May, Connor Jennings equalised against Forest Green in the play-off final, maintaining our hope of escaping the National League at the second time of asking. Sadly, the form that had taken Tranmere to a record 95-point haul deserted us in that final crunch game, consigning the club to a third season in non-League.
Despite that disappointment, few Rovers fans expected anything but a flying start to the current campaign. On the contrary, however, the side initially endured an almost completely goalless hangover from last season’s brush with promotion. With just eight goals scored in the first 12 games of this season, supporters were being treated to more of the same excitement-free fare in our most recent away game at Bromley, until talisman Norwood’s last-gasp strike gave us the first inkling that our luck may be turning.
The lack of goalmouth action is all the more surprising given that the bulk of last season’s successful squad is still at the club, not least the front pairing of Norwood and Andy Cook. Between them, they have racked up well over 80 goals in the last two years at this level. Still, while we may have given opposing keepers little to worry about recently, our defence has been equally parsimonious, and this will stand us in good stead if we are to carry on up the table.
The club looks to be in fine fettle off the field. With a new state-of-the-art training complex and a coaching link up with China we are dangerously close to being cutting-edge for level five, and there seems no doubt that the finances are in good hands. Day to day, though, it is results on the pitch that supporters are always more interested in.
Despite the pressure and expectation of being arguably the biggest club in a competitive league more of our new-found good fortune in this weekend’s local derby with Chester would only add to our rekindled confidence. Fans of clubs who have dropped down the divisions are fond of saying that the only way is up. As we suddenly find ourselves just two points off the play-offs with a mere 96 to play for, they may well be right. Tristan Browning
Photo by Simon Gill/WSC Photos: A Tranmere fan shows his colours at Eastleigh in 2016