The Easter weekend proved a mixed bag for City – a win over Barnet seemed to put some daylight between the Grecians and the jagged line marking the playoffs, only for defeat at Cambridge on Monday, coupled with Blackpool’s late win at Doncaster, to throw the race wide open again. One of the brightest spots on an otherwise disappointing afternoon was the return to action of Lee Holmes, and his energetic display will have pushed him close to a recall to the starting line-up should Paul Tisdale decide he is match fit enough to start. Troy Brown will hope to have recovered from the illness that forced him to sit out the Easter matches (although he was on the bench on Monday) and he may come back in to replace Troy Archibald-Henville. David Wheeler was also benched on Monday and the club’s top scorer will look to return.
That Morecambe go into Saturday’s match needing a point to be absolutely mathematically safe from relegation (they may already be safe depending on other matches) is testament to the magnificent work done by Jim Bentley given the off-field disarray the club finds itself in. Foreign owners apparently buying the club, disappearing, reappearing as the club is sold to others, power struggles, the players not getting paid on a regular basis, the Shrimps have been battling with Leyton Orient for the title of the biggest basket case in the division. However, while the Os have sunk to the bottom and are needing snookers to stay in the league, Bentley’s side showed a lot of resolve to build up enough points to survive although a run of seven straight defeats threatened to throw them back in the mix before a win and two draws in their last three matches. The departure of Tom Barkhuizen, now playing a starring role for Preston, was seen as a massive blow but the form of players like Paul Mullin (ten goals in all competitions) and the veteran Kevin Ellison have ensured the loss wasn’t too great.
The reverse fixture back in October saw City’s impressive away form continue, cruising into a 3-0 lead by half time (Wheeler, Grant, Holmes) and overcoming the loss of Christy Pym to injury to hold on to the lead in the second half. It was again late in the season when Morecambe made the long trek to Devon last season, and a soporific encounter (the only highlight of the first half was the referee falling over) was brought to life in the dying stages as Morecambe took the lead through Ellison before Jayden Stockley rescued a point from the spot after the linesman spotted a handball in the box. City have a healthy head to head lead with seven wins to Morecambe’s three, but Pools players may put an X through this fixture as there have been 10 draws between the sides.
The match officials for this game are:-
Referee: Lee Swabey
Assistant Referee: Justin Amey and Simon Knapp
Fourth Official Andrew Quin