Wrexham's 11-game unbeaten run ended in unceremonious style at Accrington, but the quality of a side is determined by its ability to bounce back from set-backs, so The Red Dragons will be determined to get back into action and make amends.
Phil Parkinson has had a week to assess performances in training and decide whether changes need to be made following last Saturday's defeat. James McClean and Jacob Mendy are both available after their international adventures, but Jordan Tunnicliffe has suffered a set-back and will not be available.
We have had a lot to contend with over the last month or so: a lot of injuries, international call-ups and it probably caught up with us a little bit if we are honest.
Meanwhile, Tom O'Connor has been monitored throughout the week, having been withdrawn at half time at Accrington after feeling tightness in his groin.
LAST TIME WE MET
THE OPPOSING VIEW
Morecambe arrive in North Wales in an expected state of flux. The departure of their manager Derek Adams in the week was a surprise setback after a highly pleasing start to the season. Adams upped sticks on Monday and made the move to Ross County, ending his second spell in charge of the Shrimps. Having earned promotion to League One for the first time in the club's history, Adams is guaranteed a place in Morecambe's hall of fame, and defied the critics who predicted in pre-season that his side would struggle, guiding them to their current position of 9th, 2 points off the play-offs with 2 games in hand.
Adams enjoyed an excellent October, following up a draw against Accrington with 5 consecutive wins to make the shortlist for manager of the month award which ultimately went to Phil Parkinson.
Form has slipped since, with league defeats suffered at Barrow and Grimsby, and a loss at Blackpool which led to their eliminations from the Bristol Street Motors Trophy. However, interspersed between those losses was a fine FA Cup win away to League One Lincoln City.
Assistant Manager John McMahon and First Team Coach Ged Brannan have taken temporary charge of the club. Brannan has applied for the job on a permanent basis, but the bookies are currently favouring Accrington boss John Coleman and ex-Wrexham centre back Dave Artell.
Brannan told the Lancaster Guardian he thinks he'll know if he has succeeded sooner rather than later: “I think the club are going to move quickly and bring someone in.
“I’ve applied for the job. They have promised me an interview and I’ll see what happens from there. I’ve always wanted to be a manager. I’ve done the Under-18s and Under-23s at Accrington Stanley, as well as being in and around the first team. I’ve been on the pitch, I’ve been doing warm-ups, I know what it takes to be a manager.
“Without making excuses, the pitch at Barrow was horrendous and they know how to play on that. At Grimsby, we scored too early – which you can do – but we sat on that and had a bad five-minute spell.”
The Shrimps will be aiming to end an unwanted sequence on the road, as they haven't kept a clean sheet in an away game since a goalless draw at Portsmouth last April. That's 13 games without a shut-out, but despite that, Morecambe have managed three wins on their travels: only 6 sides have managed more in League Two this season. In terms of points per game away from home they are solidly mid-table in 12th place.
“I think everyone knows what’s going to happen at Wrexham. They are on a great run. I know they were beaten at Accrington but they’re at home and it’s a different ball game. They are very direct and we’ve got to be standing up at throw-ins, corners and free-kicks. At the same time, we’ve got some good players in our team and we’ve been playing some lovely stuff."
-Morecambe interim manager Ged Brannan
Despite not having a permanent manager, Morecambe added to their squad this week by signing Oscar Threlkeld, an experienced and flexible defender, on a short term contract.
HEAD TO HEAD
This weekend sees Morecambe visit the Stok Cae Ras for the third time.
The sides first met in October 2003, and Wrexham won 4-1 in an LDV Vans Trophy tie.
In fact, we scored all 5 goals, because Morecambe's consolation was scored by our centre back Craig Morgan!
Lee Jones was the star of the evening as he helped himself to a hat-trick and could have had more, but having scored one penalty already, he let Hector Sam have the privilege when the referee pointed to the spot for a second time. That put Wrexham 4-0 up with just under half an hour left, and gave us a chance to ease up in preparation for the resumption of the league for the last half hour.
The second time we faced Morecambe was their second game in the Football League. The clubs were going in separate directions, but that wasn’t apparent in an early season clash which went Wrexham’s way thanks to two goals from Michael Proctor in the opening 22 minutes.
By the time we visited Christie Park we were in the midst of a desperate, doomed scrap against relegation, and a 2-2 draw earned through penalties by Danny Sonner and Proctor wasn’t enough to haul us off the foot of the table.
In contrast, Morecambe have established themselves comfortably as an EFL side over the last 15 years. In fact, that early season Wrexham win was something of an anomaly for The Shrimpers, as they enjoyed a superb start to their opening Football League campaign.
Their opening match was a goalless home draw against Barnet, and they followed that up with a midweek win at Preston North End in the League Cup.
Defeat at The Racecourse came next, but that would be the only loss in a memorable first 8 games of the season which included fine victories at Wolves, Tranmere and Chester.
This match is also a reunion for Liam McAlinden, who will surely be given a warm welcome by Shrimpers fans. He played a decisive role in their 2020-21 promotion season, scoring the winner in the first leg of the play-off semi-final at Tranmere, and starting in the victory over Newport in the Wembley final.
The stats suggest that Morecambe don't threaten the opposition goal often, but their quality of shooting is excellent when they do. Only Sutton and Harrogate manage fewer shots on goal per 90 minutes - we have 5 shots more than Morecambe per game on average - but The Shrimps have the best shots on target percentage of the entire division! They have the fifth-lowest xG from open play in the division, and the seventh-lowest set piece xG, but are outperforming their overall xG by nearly 2 goals.
The efficacy of their shooting might be explained partly by their style of play as, like our most recent opponents Accrington Stanley, they have a direct style of play which looks to optimise the quality of their chances in the box. Looking at the data which addresses style of play, only Sutton United are more fast and direct, while Sutton and Newport County are the only sides with a lower number of passes per move.
James Jones' 300th league appearance.
Ben Tozer's 125th appearance for Wrexham.
Elliot Lee's 75th Wrexham game.