RONNIE MOORE’S mission to make Tranmere into a more effective force on the road will be put through an exacting examination over the next eight days.
Tonight’s League One visit to Carlisle United is the first of three away games in little more than a week for Rovers, with a League One trip to Shrewsbury on Saturday followed by a Capital One Cup date at Aston Villa next Tuesday.
Rovers have made a positive start, with a Capital One Cup success at Chesterfield and an opening league win over Leyton Orient at Prenton Park last week.
Moore said: “Now we have to take that forward into these away games because that is where we are going to be tested.
“I have always felt that at home we are going to be a match for anyone. We have to make sure the away form improves on last season.”
The five away wins recorded in the league last season represented a rough average for Tranmere teams on their travels in recent years. For Moore’s team to challenge in the top half of the table, that win ratio needs to improve.
Moore says he is encouraged by the early performances of a team that’s been given an injection of pace over the summer with the introduction of players such as Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro, Joe Thompson and Abdulai Bell-Baggie.
“We have changed a little bit,” Moore said. “We are trying to get the ball on the floor and pass it. We are trying to get the wingers crossing balls into the box and the full-backs behind the wingers.
“Against Orient you could see what happens when it all clicks. We’re trying to entertain as well as win. We will be trying to win the game at Carlisle.”
Moore believes Carlisle’s performance in finishing eighth last season demonstrated that teams with a modest budget can challenge the big spenders in the division for a play-off spot.
“Carlisle had a terrific season last year and the manager did an excellent job,” Moore said.
“We’ve had a good start but in football, things can change in a week. We have to stay positive and bright.”
Moore says he was encouraged by Tranmere’s defensive resilience in the two matches last week and by the impact of Ben Gibson, a 19-year-old centre-back who began a youth loan from Middlesbrough.
Gibson anchored the centre of the defence with the versatile Michael Kay at Chesterfield, then paired up with Ash Taylor at the heart of the back four against Orient.
Moore said: “It does help when a centre-back who did not know anybody comes in and performs as well as Ben Gibson has.
“Ben is not a shy lad.
“A lot of younger players coming through now don’t know how to talk or what to say in games. Ben definitely does. He is a leader. He talks and shouts at people but in the right way. He is a good signing for us.”
Moore believes Gibson’s arrival has taken some of the sting out of losing veteran Ian Goodison for six to eight weeks because of knee surgery.
“In the past when Ian Goodison did not play, we did not win games,” Moore said. “Goody is a one-off and at 39 he can’t go on forever. When he is fit in six to eight weeks time he will want to play. It will be nice if the two young centre-backs are doing well enough to keep him out. They both started well.”