MANAGER Ronnie Moore reckons Tranmere have given themselves an injection of confidence ahead of the FA Cup date with Chesterfield at Prenton Park this Saturday.
Rovers go into the second round tie looking to lift a faltering home record, which saw them fail to win any of the last four games in front of their own supporters.
However, Moore’s team extended the lead at the top of the League One table to three points with a 1-1 draw at Stevenage last weekend and delivered a performance reminiscent of their compelling early season form.
Moore said: “If we get back to playing that type of football, there are not many teams at this level who will live with us.
“We are going into the FA Cup still top of the league and we want to go as far as we can in the competition. We are looking forward to the Cup game after the way we played at Stevenage.”
Moore gave his players an extra day off this week to rest up after completing a hectic schedule that’s seen them playing two games a week for most of the last three months.
He is hopeful wide attacker Joe Thompson may be available for first-team selection by Saturday but longer-term casualties Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro and Abdulai Bell-Baggie won’t be fit until the New Year.
Michael O’Halloran, the striker signed on loan last week, has been given permission by his club, Bolton Wanderers, to play in the FA Cup for Tranmere.
Moore was happy with the 21-year-old’s debut performance at Stevenage. “He chased and harried and caused problems,” Moore said. “He gives us the option of playing the ball over the top.”
Tranmere’s second loan signing, Donervorn Daniels spent the afternoon on the bench watching the 40-year-old Ian Goodison make his first senior start of the season.
Moore said: “Daniels has come in as cover and looked good in training. Ian Goodison did well, like he had never been away.”
Rovers were denied a seventh away win of the League One campaign at Broadhall Way by an injury time equaliser from Greg Tansey.
“Overall it was an excellent performance and I cannot knock the lads,” Moore said. “They were brilliant. When you consider Stevenage are a big strong side, we hardly gave them a kick. We footballed them to death.
“We need to be at this level. If we want to stay in the top two we have to play like we did in this game.”
Moore and his players made the long journey home from Hertfordshire disappointed about losing two points to another goal conceded late in the game and regretful of the failure to make more of their dominance than a 78th minute goal from Jake Cassidy.
Moore said: “We were not ruthless enough in and around the penalty area. The ball into the box wasn’t as good as it could have been. That’s the only thing we were missing.
“I don’t think there was anything we could do about the goal we conceded. I think he (Tansey) spawned it. I don’t think he knew where it was going and it ended up in the back of our net.
“We were gutted because it has happened – letting teams back into games late on – once or twice too often.”
Moore saluted Cassidy’s 11th strike of the season – “I would have been proud of a header like that” – and the work of the goal’s creator, Adam McGurk.
The Irishman was in impressive form after being subjected to ironic cheers when he was substituted during the 0-0 draw with Walsall last week.
“It was a great cross and a great header,” Moore said. “Adam is a good player and it’s unfortunate he has not produced his best at home. He has got to stick with it. The supporters were terrific today and I’m disappointed we did not get three points for them because we deserved the win.”
Two of Tranmere’s loan players, Cassidy and midfielder Liam Palmer, don’t have clearance from their clubs to play in the FA Cup, so Moore will be forced into team changes.
Chesterfield are managed by former Tranmere midfielder Paul Cook, who took charge of the League Two club in October. Liverpudlian Cook played more than 60 League and Cup games for Rovers between 1996 and 1997. He joined Chesterfield following a short spell at Accrington Stanley.