Saturday’s defeat in the FA Cup to Oxford (which landed the Us a plum tie at home to Arsenal) continued a worrying trend whereby City have now conceded at least two goals in each of their last five fixtures – and at least two of Oxford’s four goals were down to defensive calamities. In addition, the attacking spark also seems to have been lost in the last couple of games, two issues that Gary Caldwell will need to focus on as City finally break with the horrendous run of fixtures against sides expected to be near the top of the league with a trip to one of the relegation favourites. Injury-wise things are starting to look better at least, with Cheick Diabate starting at Oxford, although he looked very ring-rusty especially when committing the error that led to Oxford’s opener. Elsewhere Josh Key moved from centre back to centre forward for 45 minutes before settling in at his more familiar wing-back position, and with Jack Sparkes looking very short of form Key may return to this position from the start with Jake Caprice moving across to the left as he did for the second half at Oxford. Interestingly Caldwell threw on Kegs Chauke in midfield ahead of Kite and Harper, and his enthusiastic display may convince Caldwell to give the Southampton loanee more playing time.
After defying all the odds to stay up in their debut season in the third tier, Morecambe were again installed amongst the relegation favourites given the size of the club and also potential off-field problems given their Chairman’s connections with Worcester in Rugby Union. So far there has been little evidence to suggest the Shrimps can avoid the drop a second time, with Derek Adams, back at the club after jumping ship for an unsuccessful spell at Bradford last season, registering two league wins to date. While City were being soundly beaten by Oxford, Morecambe had the weekend off as they’d been beaten 2-0 by Sheffield Wednesday in the first round. Cole Stockton, whose 26 goals (including a number of goal of the season candidates) almost single-handedly kept Morecambe up last season, finally found the net for the first time in Morecambe’s EFL Trophy match at Lincoln last week, so he will hope this provides a springboard to a return to form. He is likely to line up alongside a familiar face in on loan Kieran Phillips, who with four goals to his name has already doubled the tally he scored on loan at City last season (albeit both goals were crucial), while top scorer is Jensen Weir with five league goals.
The last time the sides met, when Morecambe were the surprise promotion winners in 20/21, the Shrimps had a rare advantage taking four points from this fixture. The corresponding match finished 2-2 – Randall gave City the lead but by half time it was 2-1 to the hosts with goals from Mendes Gomes and Hendrie, before Jake Taylor levelled in the second half. The reverse fixture was a dire night for City supporters as Morecambe left Exeter with a 2-0 win through an Adam Phillips penalty and Stockton – Jokull Andresson keeping a clean sheet in the two appearances he made for Morecambe sandwiched between his two loan spells at City that season. City have a strong lead in league head to heads with 11 wins to Morecambe’s five, 12 matches however have finished level.
Match officials for this game are:-
Referee: Peter Wright
Assistant Referees: Joe Simpson and Alan Clayton
Fourth Official : Anthony Backhouse
Peter Wright last refereed an Exeter game in February of this year, which was the 1-1 draw away at Bristol Rovers.