Tranmere Rovers FC: Ronnie Moore hopes Rovers have learned their lesson
RONNIE MOORE trusts his Tranmere team can heed the lessons of a costly fall when they take their League One promotion challenge to Brisbane Road this afternoon.
Rovers will be defending a wafer thin advantage at the top of the table as they kick-off against Leyton Orient, after unexpectedly slipping up at home to Carlisle United last weekend.
Moore saw the 1-0 reverse as an accident that could have been avoided and warns that his team cannot afford to make the same mistakes if they are to turn their promotion ambitions into reality by May.
Moore said: “We are facing a different sort of pressure now. There are 16 games to go and basically we’re into a 16 game season, eight at home, eight away.
“Whoever does the best over the 16 games will get promoted and I don’t see any reason why it can’t be us. We have been at the top of the league for the best part of four months. It would be a tragedy for us not to see it through.
“But there are no easy games and I keep on having to say that. It’s not the games against the so-called bigger clubs that worry me. It is the games against teams who people expect you to turn up and beat. They are the ones that concern me.
“You have to be mentally tough and strong in this situation.”
Moore added: “We can’t have four or five players off their best for 45 minutes. We are not a good enough side to do that. We can’t carry players who are not doing it. Everyone has to be doing it.
“I am hoping the Carlisle game was a lesson everyone has learned from now and it won’t happen again.”
Tranmere are one of a dozen clubs in with a shout of promotion, Moore believes. But their status as leaders through most of the season makes them a target.
He said: “Teams are going to improve 20% when they play us because they want to beat the top of the league. Those teams closer to the bottom who want to stay in this league are going to be fighting like mad for points.”
Orient, among a group of mid-table clubs on 43 points, 13 behind Tranmere, may still have an eye on a play-off spot.
They have an experienced and popular manager in Russell Slade, a longtime friend of Moore.
Tranmere won on their last two visits to Brisbane Road under the management of Les Parry and beat Orient 3-1 at Prenton Park on the opening day of this season.
They travel to London with a record of eight away wins that matches their form at home. Moore said: “We are good enough to go away and win games but we can’t think for a moment that Orient will be anything but difficult. Russell Slade has got their lads going. They drew at home to Swindon and won at Stevenage in the League recently and they should have won the JPT game in midweek. They had the chances and they won’t think they are out of the tie.
“It’s going to be a hard game for us because Russell knows this league inside out. If our lads are thinking: here we go again, it’s going to be easy, they will be wrong.”
Tranmere will be without Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro, who begins a three match suspension following his dismissal for retaliation against Carlisle.
Moore, who has been searching without success to sign a tall and experienced striker in the loan market, is ready to give teenager Cole Stockton the opportunity to lead the attack.
Stockton did well on his latest substitute appearance in the final half-hour of the Carlisle game.
Tranmere welcome back goalkeeper Owain Fon Williams and midfielder Adam McGurk from international duty in midweek, although neither of them saw action.
McGurk watched from the bench as Northern Ireland drew 0-0 with Malta in Valletta and must hope for another opportunity to win his first full cap. Fon Williams was once again an un-used substitute as Wales posted an encouraging 2-1 win over Austria in Swansea.
Moore said: “It was a good experience for those lads but it is a bit disappointing for me they did not play.
“Some club managers might feel happy if their players sit on the bench. But I think playing internationals is a great pick-me-up for players.”