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Updated: Jul 21

Ahead of today's nail-biter at Morecambe, we caught up with Shrimps fan Stuart Rae, with both sides going into the game desperate for a good result for different reasons...

Derek Adams has returned, are you glad to have him back?

Yes – and so are the majority of the supporters who never wanted him to leave in the first place after guiding us to promotion at Wembley Stadium less than 12 months ago. Whilst it was disappointing to see his replacement, Stephen Robinson, depart so soon into a long-term project/vision that he peddled to everyone, the timing to bring back Derek worked out perfectly for all parties. Given the parameters the club were working with, Derek was the only logical choice with a dozen or so games remaining in the season and the transfer window being closed; experience at the level, a good understanding of the club, and knowledge of the existing squad – many of whom he worked with as part of the promotion winning side.

This game could decide whether you stay up or not this season, as well as whether or not we clinch a playoff spot. With that being said do you fancy your chances of grabbing points against us?

It is going to be a tough ask for Morecambe. Not many people would have picked us to be in this position at the start of the season – especially after losing our manager when in a fairly perilous situation. Form of late has improved significantly; MK Dons game aside, we arguably have been the better side in the 5 games that preceded that fixture - claiming 10/15 points which could have been more. We’ve also been much stronger at The Mazuma Stadium this year, losing just two of 10 home games in 2022. Realistically, it might be the case for the Shrimps that we are looking at the results elsewhere – but also, we have demonstrated that we have the ability to get a result if we need to.

Much like the last time we faced each other, Cole Stockton tops the golden boot chase. Do you think you guys will be able to keep a hold of him with other clubs in the league surely keeping a close eye on him?

Whatever happens this season, it will be difficult to for the club to keep hold of Cole Stockton IMO. It is difficult to look past his goalscoring record and overall contribution during the last 18 months… although amazingly some people clearly do, given he was omitted from the divisions team of the season! He is under contract for another year and apparently loves being at the club. However, as long as the Shrimps are suitably compensated, I do not think we should stand in his way if there is an opportunity for progression. He has demonstrated that he has the ability to be one of the best players at this level even within a struggling side, and in a short career he deserves the chances to showcase that at a higher level. In isn’t just the volume of goals he is scoring, it is the quality of them – he could also have had his own League One ‘Cole’ of the season competition.

How’s the former Sunderland man Trevor Carson been for you guys?

Trevor has been a revelation since his arrival, and that’s defiantly equated to points on the board – the recent home win against Oxford United stands out straight away; he made two unbelievable saves in a 2-1 Morecambe victory. We lacked consistency at the start of the campaign within the goalkeeping department, despite the best efforts of the inexperienced Jökull Andrésson (now back at parent club Reading) and Wembley hero Kyle Letheren (released to seek first team football). Without being disrespectful to the previous incumbents, had Cars been here from the start of the season I do not think we would be in this position – as we dropped so many points from positions of strength when just one of them would be so valuable now.

Morecambe have conceded the most goals in League One this season, where do they need to tighten up to stop the Black Cats?

Concentration during key moments of the game will be vital. I think we have looked solid at the back since Derek returned, we seem less open (still can’t believe we went with a hybrid 4-3-3 system at the Stadium of Light!), more organised and not as vulnerable from set pieces. Signing Jacob Bedeau in January has helped us no end in that regard, and more recently the addition of Rhys Bennett who arrived from Gillingham (swapping one relegation scrap for another) who have formed the starting CB pairing. That being said, we are still prone to conceding goals at bad times – immediately before and just after half-time. Again, if we could solve that problem I think we could be doing better than our position suggest.

How do you think the game will play out? Will it be a technical battle or more of a tough gritty affair?

From both sides perspective I think it will be a very nervy affair to begin with, and a low risk approach. It will be difficult not to keep an eye on the results elsewhere, and depending on how they pan out it might impact the approach for both sides in this fixture. We were in a similar situation a few seasons ago at the Ricoh Arena, where ultimately a draw was good enough to keep Morecambe in the Football League (on goal difference) and also because of how the results were going it is what Coventry City required to secure a League Two play-off place. There was no impetus for either side to take have a go, and the game meandered into a non-contest… much to the delight of everyone! Coventry ultimately gained promotion via the play-offs. If a similar conclusion on Saturday results in the same outcome for both teams, I’m sure there will be very few complaints.

If the Shrimps do stay up do you think we’ll see them progress from this season and finish higher in the next campaign?

It will be interesting to see who we can keep hold of, but having our fate decided one way or another on Saturday will put us in a position where we can plan for next season efficiently. That was not the case last year, when we did not know what division we would be playing in until much later than our competitors – we didn’t even know who our manager was going to be. Obviously, we can take a lot of heart from our recent form, and hopefully we have learnt a lot from our first ever season at the level. Recruitment will be key, and having Adams back in the hot seat gives me confidence that he can attract some more quality to the club – but also get the best out of the players that we retain.

Finally, what do you think the score will be?

Morecambe 0-0 Sunderland and both sides to be delighted with it. I’m sure there will be thousands of Sunderland fans making the journey to Costa del Morecambe for the bank holiday weekend – hopefully it’s a good one for both sets of supporters. Bring Me Sunshine! UTFS.