RONNIE MOORE is ready to make another attempt to beef up the back and front ends of Tranmere’s promotion challenge by signing a tall striker in the loan market this week.
Moore was at a match last night to make a personal assessment of his target, who he describes as a “six-foot-three centre forward.”
He added: “Hopefully something will develop and we can bring in the player we need. I’m looking for someone who can not only cover us in the opposition box but also cover us in our own box when we have to defend.”
The lack of height in the League One leaders’ ranks is turning into a pressing issue for Moore, who is concerned Rovers are struggling to cope with a disadvantage at each end of the field when playing teams of greater stature. His particular worry is how vulnerable Tranmere have become when defending free kicks and corners in recent games.
The goals conceded in the 2-1 defeat at Leyton Orient last weekend were both the result of set-plays.
Moore said: “It is wrong to talk about how badly we played at Leyton Orient, although we did not play as well as we can do. The problem was, if you look at the chances Orient had, they all came from set-plays.
“We conceded from two set plays and would have conceded a third but for the linesman helping us out by giving offside. We were not playing for offside, it was just lucky that the lad ran offside.
“Conceding those goals shows me we’re weak in our decision-making in the picking up area. We have to improve it.
“If we think the Leyton Orient were a big side, we have Stevenage, Sheffield United and Preston to play and they have five or six big lads in their teams. If we can’t defend set plays we are not going to win too many games.”
Moore and his coaching staff will be working with the players this week on improving their technique at defending set plays.
“It is a learning curve for some of them,” he said. “Cole Stockton, our young centre forward, is six-foot and he has got to come back and pick up at set plays, something he has probably not had to do for the reserves or the youth team. We have to do a little bit in training with the full-backs, Danny Holmes and Zoumana Bakayogo, who have to pick up because our midfield players are so poor at it.
“Danny and Zoum are having to pick up six-foot-two opponents so you can see right away we are going to be at a disadvantage.”
Moore added: “We can work on how a good little ‘un can stop a bigger player if he makes his challenges in the right way. It is surprising how many times referees give a free kick when a small defender gets underneath an attacker. You’ve just got to be clever.
“I had a player, Peter Hurst, when I was at Rotherham. He was 5’8” tall but he was so good at sticking his backside into people and getting free kicks or stopping them from getting free headers. If 5’8” can do it and sure some of our lads can do it.”
Tranmere held on to top spot in the table after losing their last two games because close rivals also slipped up. However, they may lose pole position tonight.
Second-placed Doncaster require only a point from a home game against MK Dons to edge ahead into top spot. Rovers could also be overhauled by Bournemouth, the division’s form team, if the Cherries can reel off a fifth straight win at Crewe Alexandra.