Micky Mellon spoke to the local press after Thursday’s 2-1 win over Barrow AFC.
Mellon expressed his delight about the start that his side made, the tempo and intensity shown throughout the match, as well as discussing Paul Lewis’ sending off and delivering a touching tribute to Pele who sadly passed away on Thursday evening.
Firstly, Micky spoke about the good start by his Rovers side, and despite a blip after the thirty-minute mark, his side controlled the game and continuously put Barrow on the back foot.
“I thought we deserved the three points. We started the game very well and took the lead, but after around 30 minutes, we weren’t on the front foot as much anymore, and weren’t forcing ourselves onto them. We had a chat at half time, and we came out to the second half well on top. We had really good chances.
“To come to a place like Barrow and to perform like we did is very, very good. It’s a credit to the players, especially to go down to ten men – they showed a lot of character, and the supporters rallied them on - it was great to get the winner at the end there.”
It was becoming a concern for the Super White Army that Rovers couldn’t take their chances in front of goal before Christmas, when Mellon’s team hadn’t scored over 1 goal in a league match since October. However, 6 goals in the festive period so far have enlightened the Tranmere faithful.
“Four chances that we consider disappointed not to have taken – that’s not criticism, but I want to say how good I thought that the chances were. But, to go and score another one, and to get that victory – it was an important goal for us and gave the players that extra bit of motivation to get us over the line.”
Kane Hemmings scored the winning goal in the 83rd minute when Josh Dacres-Cogley crossed the ball into the box where it was met by the head of Hemmings and smashed into the roof of the net.
“It’s a good header – when you get that delivery, you ask people to get on the end of it and attack the ball and that’s what we did, and we scored a good goal. It was a terrific delivery, and Kane did well. We’ve been telling him to stay in the middle of the goal and to make contact and hit the target, and that’s what he did – in the roof of the net – it looked even more special from my angle. We deserved that.
“It was disappointing to concede the way we did. I’m not going to name names now – that will be a job for when we go over our organisational structure in the week, but there’s players who should release and get out to the edge of the box, and we’ll have to go over that and ensure that everyone is doing their jobs.”
The tempo in the second half was something which was noticed by the boss and impressed him, with the team controlling the Barrow side.
“I don’t think anyone can argue that we weren’t the better side in the second half. We penned Barrow in for most, if not all, of the 45 minutes. We created five very good chances which we’re disappointed not to score, but we converted one of them and got the 2-1 victory. The players stood up to the intensity and somewhat arrogance to say that ‘I’m going to take part in this game and go and put them on the back foot’ – and I think that the lads did that in the second half.”
Paul Lewis was sent off with just 15 minutes to go when the game was tied at 1-1, after colliding with the Barrow goalkeeper, seeing red for a high foot.
“I can see why it was given. You can say you’re entitled to go for the ball, but if you don’t get the ball and contact the goalkeeper then I can see why it’s given, and vice-versa, if the goalkeeper misses the ball and makes contact. The referee has made the decision and there’s nothing we can do about it.”
Rovers now visit local rivals, Crewe Alexandra on Sunday afternoon, in the first game of 2023. Mellon explained how tough the fixture will be and how his side need to ensure that they are at the same performance levels as seen in the past two matches.
“We need to have more of the same of what we showed today – more of that desire to win the game, which has been missing at times this season – we have to go and find that again. We’ll get them rested and ready, and we’ll be back in training on New Year’s Eve, and we’ll be ready to visit them on New Years Day, no doubt backed by a big following – so we’ll go there to try and get three points and force ourselves further up the table.”
Over a thousand Rovers fans are expected to make the trip to Crewe, and Micky commented on how much the fans can boost the team, but how the team must give something back to the supporters on the pitch.
“It works both ways. We need to give them something to get them excited about, and we did that tonight. Barrow is always a difficult place to come to, and to pick up three points here is very satisfying – so we go again on Sunday and try and get a good result down at Crewe.
“As I said after the Doncaster game, it’s got to be this all of the time – to turn up and hit this tempo, and if we turn up and have this desire and this tempo to be first to everything all over the pitch, then the players can deliver great quality and get us points on the board.”
The Sky Bet League Two season is exactly half way through for Tranmere now, and Micky described the first half of the campaign as having its ups and downs.
“[The season has been] like a rollercoaster. And it’s now about trying to level that out at the top of the rollercoaster, to hit the levels which get us victories, we will keep pushing the group and hitting the performance levels which will get us results.”
Finally, the Rovers boss delivered a touching tribute to footballing legend, Pele, who sadly passed away on Thursday evening.
“I think everyone involved in football is devastated by the news. Look how far away we are from Brazil and that has touched us – that’s the tribute, and it will touch the globe – that’s how high esteem Pele was, and he will never be forgotten. One of the greatest players to ever play the game. A really sad loss, but it’s not a loss really – because people like that never die and will never be forgotten.”