Tranmere boss Ronnie Moore cut a relieved figure at the final whistle after his side saw off Oldham 1-0 thanks to a second-half strike from Max Power to claim only their second win in seven outings.
Having set a blistering pace at the top of League One pre-Christmas, Tranmere have stumbled in recent weeks but three points saw them stay in the division's top four and still with realistic ambitions of automatic promotion.
In reverse, the defeat saw Oldham suffer their second successive loss since their fine FA Cup run came to an end and they are still anxiously looking over their shoulders in the relegation positions.
After Rovers' 1-0 win, Moore said: "It was a tight game but the players gave everything. There weren't many chances for either side but we got the break at the right time.
"To be where we are with the injuries we have had is immense for the players. We keep getting slapped and we keep getting up and we are in a very good position. It was massive that we won with two away games coming up.
"It was a vital three points but keeping a clean sheet was the most important thing because we are not scoring too many goals at the moment. I think the fans realise how difficult it is and they have stuck with us. It was a horrible, scrappy game but we have got through it."
Jose Baxter went closest to an equaliser for Oldham when he rifled a 25-yard free-kick off the underside of the crossbar but Oldham failed to climb out of the bottom four.
Oldham caretaker manager Tony Philliskirk said: "We are disappointed because there was nothing between the teams. We feel a bit hard done by because I thought we deserved to have been given a blatant penalty for handball.
"I thought we didn't play well in the first half but after the break I don't think we deserved to lose. When you are at the bottom things just don't go right for you but we can't feel sorry for ourselves.
"It is still in our own hands and we have two home games now which are massive for us. We had chances to score but the pitch dictated the way the game was played. It was a bit of a pudding and we feel things are conspiring against us a bit."