TRANMERE’S players spent Sunday watching their own “Nightmare Before Christmas” video – a screening of Friday’s 5-0 thrashing at Swindon Town.
Manager Ronnie Moore and his staff cancelled a scheduled day off and brought the squad into Prenton Park to examine just what went wrong on a night of horrific defending at the County Ground.
Rovers’ fourth and heaviest defeat of the season cost them top spot in the League One table over the weekend as promotion favourites Sheffield United moved two points clear thanks to a 2-0 win at Crawley Town.
But the greatest concern for Moore was how a team that had performed with consistency and resilience on the road through most of the campaign did little more than offer shooting practice for Paolo Di Canio’s Swindon side.
Tranmere had lost only once and conceded just eight goals in 11 away games prior to Friday night. Now their goal difference is no longer the advantage it used to be.
“The goals we gave away were from schoolboy errors,” Moore said. “If you defend like that you are going to lose games.
“The back four were all over the place. I could rant and rave but it would be wrong because they have been fantastic all season. You would like to hope it was a one-off.”
Tranmere enjoy the consolation of knowing they don’t have to wait long for the opportunity to bounce back.
A busy schedule of festive holiday games continues with a Boxing Day fixture against Crewe Alexandra at Prenton Park and a visit from Scunthorpe United on Saturday, December 29.
However, Rovers must confront issues with their home form, having failed to win any of the last five League One games at Prenton Park.
Full-back Danny Holmes sees this week’s two matches as an opportunity to improve the record at Prenton Park and inject some fresh momentum into the promotion challenge.
“We need to get our home form back on track,” Holmes said.
“If we can get that right then I think we can really look forward to the second half of the season.
“We’ve got influential players coming back from injury in the next few weeks.
“When we’ve being without them we’ve often played well but we’ve not had the wins we want. We’ve drawn quite a few games.”
Holmes added: “Christmas is an important period with a lot of points to play for.
“For me, the important thing is to be at the top or near the top going into the New Year. As long as we can see the other 23 teams behind us, I will be happy.”
Holmes and his teammates will be training today and on Christmas Day in preparation for Crewe’s Boxing Day visit.
Crewe were without a match over the weekend.
Their scheduled home fixture against Bournemouth was postponement less than three hours before kick-off because the Gresty Road pitch became waterlogged.
Crewe will be looking to extend a run of three straight League One victories at Tranmere’s expense.
Midfielder Abdul Osman is in line for a recall against Rovers after a knee injury kept him out of the Railwaymen’s last outing, a 1-0 win at Bury.
Tranmere could be ready to hand a recall to skipper James Wallace.
The 21-year-old midfielder has been making good progress in his comeback from a knee injury sustained in the FA Cup win over Chesterfield at the start of the month.