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Latics on a mission

8 March 2013

It's the start of a really important period - Philliskirk

Latics will be on a mission to climb out of the relegation places in npower League One tomorrow when they visit promotion-chasing Tranmere Rovers.

And once again former Latics' manager Ronnie Moore will be standing in their way as was the case in November when Tranmere triumphed 1-0 at Boundary Park.

Caretaker Manager Tony Philliskirk admits tomorrow kicks off an important spell for Latics.

He said: "We are at the start of a really important period and know the beginning of April is manic with three or four games in a week.

"First tomorrow's match at Tranmere leads on to a massive game against Hartlepool on Tuesday and then at home against Bournemouth who are up at the top on merit."

Philliskirk still believes five wins from their last 12 league matches will ensure safety.

And with six games remaining at Boundary Park, Philliskirk added: "I have said all along that if we win our home games, I think we will be alright.

"We have played two less games than some of the teams around us and, as I have been saying all along, it is in our hands.

"We have games against teams in and around us and I would rather have it that way than relying on other teams." 

Philliskirk has been satisfied with the preparations which have been aided by not having a midweek match which has enabled extra work on the training ground.

And he is hoping to exploit Tranmere's recent dip as they have won only one of their last seven league matches.

They headed League One for much of the season, but have slipped to sixth spot yet are only five points adrift of leaders Doncaster.

Philliskirk said: "If you told Ronnie at the start of the season his team would be in the play-off places in March, he would probably have snapped off your hand.

"He is probably disappointed, however, after being top of the league for much of the season. But if they land a play-off place, he deserves a massive pat on the back. You have to give Ronnie a lot of credit for what he has achieved.

"Tranmere have had a recent little blip which all teams have, but they still went to Colchester a fortnight ago and scored five goals.

"I worked here when Ronnie was manager so know what to expect. They will work ever so hard and will be well organised which we will have to match that first and foremost.

"Ronnie also likes to turn Oldham over because when he left here he felt he had a bit of unfinished business. And he will have the Tranmere players up saying it is one game he wants to win."

Tranmere will be without a number of key players through injury - on-loan striker Mamady Sidibe, Andy Robinson, Adam McGurk and long-term absentee James Wallace.

However, he said: "I have limited information about Tranmere because we want to major on what we feel we are good at.

"If we do things right at our end, we believe we have enough in the team/squad to get a positive result."

Philliskirk was far from disheartened by Latics' display when they lost 2-0 at home last Saturday to second-placed Sheffield United. It ended a run of three straight league wins since taking temporary charge.

He said: "I have watched the game again and wasn't too dissatisfied. There was nothing between the teams and they are the best team in the league in my opinion.

"And if we are not too far behind them, we take a positive from that."

Philliskirk added you cannot legislate for mistakes - both Blades' goals came from individual errors - saying they are part and parcel of the game, but they were punished for them.

Latics will also be looking to maintain their impressive record at Prenton Park where they have won on four of their last five visits.

The one loss came in October 2011 when they were beaten 1-0 to a goal from.....Jose Baxter. 

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