Tranmere Rovers boss Micky Mellon was proud of his side’s fight following last night’s stalemate with Bristol Rovers.
Ciara blew up quite the storm on Birkenhead, hitting the Wirral with strong winds on a bitterly cold Tuesday evening.
The players, however, could not blow up a storm on the pitch as both side’s squandered terrific chances to take all three points.
It was no win in nine for Mellon’s side who still remain six points adrift at the bottom of League One, with Wimbledon playing out a goalless draw at home to promotion hopefuls Ipswich.
Despite spending much of the opening third pegged back, Rovers soon started to find some rhythm. Kieron Morris’ volley was blocked after great play on the left by Corey Blackett-Taylor.
Tranmere continued to assert their dominance after the interval. Luke McCullough’s throughball fell perfectly at the feet of Vaughan, who picked out Andy Cook in the box, but the striker could not direct his effort on target.
Bristol Rovers did start to re-find their feet, though, and should have been ahead when Ed Upson rattled the upright. But when Jonson Clark-Harris fritted a massive chance for the Gas in the dying embers, neither team were destined to make the breakthrough.
“We came to win and we set a team up to win the game,” said Mellon in his post-match debrief.
“The conditions were tough, it was really windy and we all know about the pitch. It was a good battle the whole way through and we showed our quality to try and get a result.
“Of course it is not the ideal game we hoped for, but in terms of what the conditions and the pitch allowed us, I thought the energy levels and fight was great.
“The fans were great as well, they got right behind us.”
When an off-field concept just doesn’t fall into place, football management can be a lonely place.
Defensive woes have cost the Whites in recent weeks – most notably when Sean Raggett opened the scoring on Saturday – but a resolute performance at the back will give the Scotsman means for optimism, it is now goals at the other end of the pitch that needs addressing.
“We still need to get better, but what was pleasing was that they had a good go at what we wanted them to do to improve,” said Mellon on his side’s clean sheet.
“We will have to start being consistent, keep banging on and encourage the lads to play that little bit higher and close that gap in behind our midfield.
“But they continued to fight in really difficult conditions and they ran their socks off on what was a really tough surface.”
On a night that ended a five-game winless run, you could argue that last night’s draw with Bristol Rovers was a step in the right direction.
However, with Ipswich holding Wimbledon to a draw and Rochdale falling to a 3-0 defeat at the Stadium of Light, a win for Rovers would have closed the gap to four.
But Mellon insists that despite the visitors’ bad run of form – which stretches to no win in 12 – it was a hard-fought point.
“I saw two groups of players playing on a really tough pitch and if you have played football before, then you will know that is as tough as it gets,” Mellon explained.
“So, what you have to make sure is that you show character and it doesn’t go your way, then as long as you have given everything you have got to get the correct result, then that is the important thing.
“Of course we set up to win a game of football, but there is nothing given in this division.
“Every game is tough and every team fights every week. Don’t forget that we are new to this league and we were up against an established team tonight.
“They will always make it difficult for you and they were well prepared to come up here and fight the same as us.
“So, credit to both sets of players who ran their socks off in what was a real bruising encounter.”
Rovers now face a crunch match on their quest for League One survival as they travel to the Crown Oil Arena to face fellow relegation rivals Rochdale.
Image – Tranmere Rovers