MANAGER Les Parry admits the issue of converting possession and pressure into goals is taking some of the gloss off some encouraging Tranmere performances – and costing them valuable League One points.
Last Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at Preston told a familiar story with Rovers keeping the home side on the back foot for much of the afternoon, without reward.
Jose Baxter, the teenage frontman signed on loan from Everton, capped his debut with a 60th minute goal but it was sandwiched between a Graham Alexander penalty and substitute Danny Mayor’s winner for the home side.
Parry said: “We have got to make the opposition goalkeeper work harder than we have been doing. I think we are creating opportunities but we are not forcing the goalkeeper to make saves and that is the problem.
“We should have had an equaliser towards the end of the first half at Preston when Jose Baxter had a chance and at least he forced the goalkeeper into a decent save. Apart from that there were a lot of instances of us getting into good areas and not finding the end product.
“We work on it every day – it just looks as if we don’t. But I think the goals will come. These things take a little time. Once you start scoring goals, they tend to be like buses and come in bunches.
“The lads will get over the disappointment of losing to Preston because they will look at their performance and know they played well. That takes the sting out of it.”
Parry admitted Tranmere paid the price for pushing for a winner at Preston after Baxter forced home the equaliser from close range.
“We have to learn to shut up shop,” Parry added. “We got back to 1-1. We were on top of the game and we tried to go on and win it. But we could have been a little less gung ho.”
Parry suspects October could be a defining month in Tranmere’s League One campaign. Rovers head into the third month of the season in a mid-table position after experiencing contrasting fortunes in results during August and September.
After taking 10 points from five games in August, Tranmere collected just four from five games in September. But Parry insists the imbalance in results does not reflect a fall off in the level of team performances and is hopeful Rovers can pick up momentum and climb back towards the play-off places over the six games in October.
Parry said: “I think October is a month that can shape our season. When the month ends we will have played a third of our league fixtures. By that time, teams will have settled. Some will have had spurts of good and bad form and come out of them.
“I think when we get to the end of October, we will have a good idea of where we are going.”
Tranmere’s record during August, when they won three games out of five and lost only once, was good enough to earn Parry a nomination for manager of the month. It certainly helped to support the manager’s summer declaration that a promotion challenge is on the agenda for this season.
But the cold figures for this month show Tranmere managed just one win in September, at home to strugglers Wycombe Wanderers, and dropped points at home to Yeovil (drew 0-0) and Carlisle (lost 2-1). They were beaten on visits to highflyers Huddersfield Town and Preston.
Parry said: “I actually think our performance levels in September were better than in August, although that sounds stupid when you look at the results.
“Our performance against Preston, who are the form team in the country with six straight wins, was excellent. We also played well at Huddersfield and they are the form team over the last six months. We should have taken something from both of those games.
“The performances through September have been good and if we carry on with those sort of performances, we will be okay.”
Full-backs David Raven and Dave Buchanan are under treatment for knocks picked up at Preston and Parry expects the pair to resume training on Thursday and to be available for selection in Saturday’s home game against Bournemouth.