DEAN KEATES has urged Wrexham to “play the game and not the occasion” in tomorrow’s top of the table clash against rivals Tranmere Rovers.

A sell-out crowd is expected at The Racecourse when fourth-placed Wrexham continue their promotion challenge against Tranmere, who are just one place behind them in the table.

Wrexham closed the gap on leaders Macclesfield Town to four points – the Reds also have a game in hand – following Saturday’s 2-0 win at troubled Hartlepool United.

Nearly 7,000 fans were at Victoria Park as supporters came out to back Hartlepool.

“With everything going on at Hartlepool, it was not about in the stands, it was about on the pitch,” said Keates. “We had to play the game and not the occasion, and it will be the same tomorrow.

“We are at home and it is going to be a great atmosphere but ultimately we have to acquit ourselves on the pitch.”

Keates saluted Wrexham fans for snapping up thousands of tickets, with Tranmere also selling their 1,800 allocation.

“Am I surprised on our side? No,” said Keates. “The backing has always been there and we are just happy that we have given them something to be happy about and proud of at the moment.

“There is still a long way to go for us to do anything or achieve anything.

“It is about doing our best and all being well we can get a result that will send our fans home happy.”

Keates insists the battle for automatic promotion will not be decided by tomorrow’s result but he knows it is still an important game for both teams.

“It is a massive game but there are only three points at stake, it is not going to finalise anything or cement anything for anybody,” said Keates.

“It is a big three points, I am not saying that it isn’t, and it stands to be a fantastic game.

“All being well we can perform and we can get the three points.”

Saturday’s victory at Hartlepool came on the back of Wrexham’s biggest win of the season when Torquay United were thrashed 4-0.

Wrexham have scored nine goals in three games but Keates would accept a “scruffy” 1-0 win tomorrow.

“We are going into it in good form and so are Tranmere,” said Keates.

“Two of the biggest clubs in the division going head-to-head, it has got everything that it could be a good game. But if it is a scruffy 1-0 to us, we will take it.

“We had a good performance last week and the week before, and won the games. 

“If this week it isn’t a great performance but we win then you take that. We just need to keep ticking off games and keep putting points on the tally.”

Tranmere, beaten in last season’s play-off final, made a poor start to the campaign but Micky Mellon’s men have climbed from the bottom half of the table into the play-off places after winning seven of their last nine league games.

Keates felt it was only a matter of time before Tranmere mounted a promotion challenge.

“Tranmere didn’t start great but they were never going to be in that position the whole season,” added Keates.

“Micky is too experienced, he has been about and he has already achieved in this division.

“They got going towards the end of last season as well when they went on a great run so it is no surprise to me that they have come flying up the table.”

Wrexham have no injury worries heading into the game and is expected to name an unchanged side with on-loan striker Scott Quigley, who scored twice in his first start at Hartlepool in line to make his home debut.