Tranmere manager Micky Mellon urges National League to consider extra promotion spot.

In the National League play-off final at Wembley, Tranmere Rovers lost to Forest Green Rovers. A team that finished nine points behind them in the table.

It is understandable that Micky Mellon is frustrated at the fact his side has to wait another year for the opportunity to be promoted. With only one automatic spot and one spot through the play-offs, the National League has been argued to be the hardest league in the world to get promoted.

Mellon took managerial control in October last year, after Gary Brabin was sacked in September where Tranmere Rovers won only one of four games and were fifth in the table at the time.

Before Mellon was hired, Tranmere went on to win just once in seven games under Paul Carden. Mellon played over 200 games for Tranmere and left his position at Shrewsbury in League One to return to Prenton Park.

Mellon turned the club around with a 2-0 victory over Wrexham and went on to push champions Lincoln City right to the wire. Speaking after the defeat to Forest Green Rovers at the National League play-off final he insisted the team’s mistakes cost them.

“Some of the goals we gave away we’re obviously very disappointed about. Whenever you come to a place like this, you’ve got to do better than we did, and in these moments we made it very difficult for ourselves.

“The third goal is a killer goal and another mistake. But on the day, I totally believe the better team won. We have to take our medicine for that and every credit to Forest Green.”

A missed opportunity

Tranmere went into the final at Wembley as favourites but had not beaten Forest Green in the league after a draw away from home and a loss by a Kaiyne Woolery goal separated the two sides at Prenton Park.

Mellon’s frustration was his sides lack of composure and instinct to take the opportunities that were presented to them. “I think when it went one each we missed the one-on-one with the goalkeeper that was another big moment in the game,” he says.

“We had another half chance at the back stick, one that got squared across and we weren’t able to take them and if you’re going to be successful here, you’ve got to take them.”

Play-off format


Proposed changes for next season


With the proposed changes to the play-offs next season as part of the National League’s “Growing Our Game” strategy which will involve not four but six clubs and will be played over one-leg ties with second and third position sides going straight through to semi-final matches at home. Mellon argues some consideration should be made to increase the number of automatic promotion spots.

“We knew the rules at the start of the season, you know there’s a cup competition at the end for the next four teams after the champion. Broader than that there has to be two automatic places then the play-offs because I think there are teams in the Football League who are just hanging in there and don’t have the ambition that many of the teams in the National League.”

End of season review

After the disappointment of missing out on Football League status, Mellon was clear to highlight the club and himself will go through everything with a fine-tooth comb to understand how the team failed to gain promotion.

“I’ll have a look at myself and I’ll comment on the performance as manager as well, I’ll look at the preparation and look at the way we set up and try and improve from that as well, that’s what you’ve got to be able to do. But at the moment things are very wrong.”

“I think we would feel as a group maybe too many of us never gave us the impact that we would expect from them on a decisive day. But to get to where they are today, to get to Wembley they’ve done fantastically well they really have, it’s been a brilliant journey but we just fell at the last hurdle,” he says.

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