TRANMERE boss Micky Mellon has called on his players to show the fight that was lacking in their 2-0 defeat at Stevenage last Saturday. 

The loss, combined with midweek wins for Sutton and Mansfield, has left Rovers' hopes of reaching the play offs hanging by a thread with the Prenton Park outfit four points outside the top seven with two games to play.

This weekend sees them host relegated Oldham Athletic in a game they must win to stand any chance of putting pressure on the sides above them. 

"It is a player's responsibility to turn up and fight for the team," said Mellon.  "The manager can speak about it before a game but then a player crosses the white line and you expect them to run, fight, show committment and to try and make an impact in the game with the qualities that they bring to the game. 

"Not enough did that on Saturday or in pretty much all of the away games."

Following last week's match apologised to the supporters and accused his players of going out on the pitch without "the fire and the fight" needed to win games of football. 

 Mellon said: "I have never thrown people under the bus but there has to come a time when people stand up and are counted.

"As a player it was my responsibility to go out there and fight for loose balls and fight to make an impact in the game. I would understand that I would be disappointed at times but you have to find the character and find a way and we have not been good enough at that. 

"People can argue with that all they want but I'll put forward 600 games as a manager and about 600 as a footballer and that is the way it must work and that's the way it is. 

"People will say 'well what did you do Micky - did you say that to them?' Yes I did and we spoke about it before the game and we spoke about it at half time and that is why it is a so disappointing.

"It should be a given for any athlete or footballer to turn up and fight for the jersey and we didn't get that on Saturday and for too many away games. There have been too many disappointed bus journeys on the way home."

Mellon did exonarate some of his charges from criticism, including veterans Jay Spearing and Peter Clarke who was recently named in the Football Manager EFL League Two Team of the Season.

"You don't have to ask Jay Spearing to turn up and show enthusiam for a game of football and the challenges it flings at you," said Mellon. "You don't have to ask Peter Clarke that or Lewis Warrington who's only 19 to do that.

"Too many have been found wanting and Jay showed the same bewilderment as me after the Stevenage game - he was baffled as to why you would turn up and not fight. 

"He's had the type of career he's had because he turned up every week with these qualities."

With a play off place now out of Tranmere's hands, Mellon refused to blame bad luck or recent refereeing decisions that have not gone Rovers' way. 

"You get what you deserve in football and the table doesnn't lie," he added. "The teams at the top are the ones who've shown the greatest consistancy and the qualities that are neeeded to be a successful team.

"I'm fed up of hearing people go on about 'if onlys' and 'ifs and buts' - everyone plays 46 games and over the course of those you have to show those qualities. If we end up where we end up it will be because we've not beem good enough over 46 games.

"The fans have been terrific and they have certainly not dropped their levels or standrads this season and they have always been there for us.

"We needed to match that support on numerous times away from home and we didn't do that. It is a supporter driven football club and I can say that we are very grateful for that and we'll continue to keep driving to be that team that they want to see performing."