BEN CHORLEY relishes the prospect of testing Tranmere's defensive resilience against League One big hitters Leeds tomorrow.
Chorley, an ever-present in a back line that has kept nine clean sheets in the last 12 league and cup games, is playing some of his best football since joining the club 18 months ago.
The mean run is helping sustain Rovers' hopes of success on three fronts – League, FA Cup and Johnstones Paints Trophy – as they enter a busy December.
A victory over Leeds should help Ronnie Moore's team close a six-point gap on the teams in the League One playoff places and move within two points of the Yorkshire giants.
But Chorley admits that the defence which is now the strong point of the team was the Achilles heel during the opening phase of the season.
The turning point, says the centre back from Sidcup in Kent, was a 3-1 home defeat at Millwall two months ago in which Tranmere's defenders were embarrassed.
Chorley said: "I can remember coming into the dressing room after the Millwall game. I was feeling particularly disappointed about the way we played – especially with me being from that part of the world.
"We watched the video of the game the next day and it was like we were playing at 50% of our potential.
“Looking at the way things went in those first two months of the season, it wasn't good enough. We knew that.
“We knew we had to do better. Especially me. I hated it because I was involved in every game."
Tranmere conceded 21 goals in the first 13 league and cup games of the season – and four in the 12 games since.
Chorley added: "We did extra work on the training pitch to sort things out and I think we have built up a better understanding as a defence.
"It has helped that we have kept a fairly settled back line. Andy Taylor, Ian Goodison and Ryan Shotton missed the odd game but we have been working together day in day out on the training ground and it helped us to gel as a unit.
"(Goalkeeper) Danny Coyne is an integral part of that. He's a good talker and helps me especially with my positioning."
Striker Chris Greenacre is ruled out once again with a back injury.