Preview: Exeter City vs Morecambe
City saved arguably their worst half of Football of the season for easily the best opposition they’d faced all year, with the end result of a 6-0 hammering perhaps a reflection of an improved second half display where your writer feared double figures, but Gary Caldwell’s depleted side finishes its campaign with a different sort of challenge against a side needing the points to remain in the division. Archie Collins was a notable absence from the Ipswich trip, while Jamal Blackman had to be replaced in goal by Gary Woods during the warm-up. Alex Hartridge left the field with a head injury after the fifth goal, but should be fine for Sunday, while there may be a return to some sense of normality up front with Jay Stansfield and James Scott both coming off the bench last week.
For a time last Saturday it appeared that the season finale at the Park would be a dead rubber. Morecambe trailed Lincoln 2-0, and MK Dons at one point led Barnsley 4-1. However, the Shrimps posted a rousing recovery to win 3-2, while Barnsley netted three times in the last twenty minutes to secure a 4-4 draw meaning realistically it’s now three from four sides – Accrington and Cambridge the other two – to go down. Theoretically Oxford could also go down too but it would take an implausible goal difference turnaround for that to happen. Morecambe were dead and buried, or so it seemed until a run of three straight wins gave Derek Adams’ side hope that they could pull off a second successive great escape. Key to that revival appears to be the return to form of Cole Stockton, whose goals almost single-handedly kept them up last season. Stockton had struggled all season, but a run of five goals in those three wins has more than doubled his tally for the season where previously he had notched just four times. Jensen Weir has been the standout performer otherwise, in double figures for the campaign and earning admiring glances from higher up. Morecambe’s struggles this season have been mirrored off the pitch – their ownership also involved in the goings on at Worcester RFC, who had to pull out of Rugby’s top flight due to financial issues – with a prospective buyer having to bail the Shrimps out this month to the tune of the club’s wage bill.
It was Friday Night Lights up in Morecambe before Christmas when City visited, coming away with a 1-1 draw thanks to Josh Key’s equaliser after Stockton had opened the scoring. Morecambe will be hoping for a repeat of the scoreline when they last visited the Park back in January 2021, when a penalty from Phillips and a second half strike from that man Stockton ensured a 2-0 win with a clean sheet from Jokull Andresson in between loan spells at City. City do, however, hold a convincing league head to head lead with 11 wins to Morecambe’s five, although Pools players may have this down on their coupon as 13 matches have finished level.
The match officials for this game will be:-
Referee: Carl Brook
Assistant Referees: Paul Lister-Flynn and Marvyn Amphlett
Fourth Official : Adam Ricketts
Carl Brook last refereed an Exeter game in February when City lost 1-0 to Burton Albion.
Interview with Gary Caldwell
Interview with Jay Stansfield
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