You might be forgiven for thinking there was only one fixture pencilled in the calendar for the foreseeable, but on the pitch all talk of the FA Cup and Liverpool needs to be put aside as City look to cement a playoff push with a decent run in the traditionally busy December. The lack of fit midfielders at the club ensured Paul Tisdale trialled a new formation called the “Schoolyard swarm” in the superb win over Port Vale, and with Matt Oakley likely to be the only fit central midfielder in the squad this weekend Tisdale may keep to his 5-0-5 line-up. Ryan Harley is the latest to be ruled out long-term with a hip injury meaning Tisdale is dipping ever deeper into his young reserves – Read and Egan on the bench last week.
While City have been unbeaten in the league since October, Morecambe’s fortunes have taken more of a southward turn with just one league win (over relegation threatened Dagenham & Redbridge) since beating Crawley 3-1 in mid-October. Incredibly Saturday’s fixture is the first time the Shrimps will have been at home on a Saturday in the league since late October, which will be a welcome boost to the coffers of Jim Bentley’s side, and also welcome relief to the residents of the area, some of whom have taken a battering due to the weather which has made headlines particularly a bit further north. Bentley’s preparations have been hampered by the weather, something he claimed was a factor in their defeat at Fleetwood in the JPT in midweek.
Goals have not been a problem – keeping them out has, however, with Morecambe conceding four goals in three of their last six matches – so City’s patched up side will need to be on guard against the likes of eight-goal Paul Mullin and Tom Barkuizen and Shaun Miller with seven. Barry Roche in goal seems to have been around forever and is closing in on 300 league matches for the Shrimps.
Last season’s fixtures between the sides saw City emerge with four points – the corresponding fixture was played on a Sunday and saw City run out 2-0 winners thanks to a Shaun Beeley OG and Tom Nichols, while Morecambe (McGowan) led for most of the match before Alex Nicholls equalised in a match that saw Tom Nichols see red (City’s only red card of the season) for a silly kick. City have the edge in head-to-heads with six wins to Morecambe’s three, while those who do the Pools will probably put an X in this fixture’s box with eight matches having ended all square.