James Heneghan's Northampton Town v Morecambe preview

Fixture: Northampton Town v Morecambe, Sky Bet League Two

Friday, 17th January 2020, 11:50 am
Updated Friday, 17th January 2020, 12:03 pm
Jordan Turnbull scored a brace in the reverse fixture

Date/time: Saturday, January 18, 3pm kick-off

Venue: PTS Academy Stadium

Forecast: 5C, cloudy

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Outs and doubts: Cobblers: Alan McCormack, Shaun McWilliams, Harry Smith. Morecambe: Adam Phillips

Betting: Northampton 8/15, draw 14/5, Morecambe 11/2

Form guide: Cobblers WWWDLD, Shrimps WDLLLW

Current league positions: 8th v 23rd

Possible line-ups: Northampton (3-5-2): Cornell; Goode, Wharton, Turnbull; Lines, Watson, Anderson, Adams, Hoskins; Williams, Oliver. Morecambe (4-3-3): Halstead; Cooney, Old, Lavelle, Tanner; O'Sullivan, Kenyon, Diagouraga; Mendes Gomes, Stockton, Slew.

Man in the middle: Graham Salisbury

Last time out: Salford 1 Northampton 2 (Hoskins, Williams); Morecambe 2 (Old, Stockton) Port Vale 1

Most recent meeting: Saturday, September 28, 2019 - Morecambe 2 (Buxton, Ellison) Northampton Town 2 (Turnbull 2)

Record v Morecambe: P17 W9 D6 L2

James Heneghan's preview: Motivation shouldn't be an issue for the Cobblers when they host perennial strugglers Morecambe this weekend but, if it is, all they need do is cast their minds back to the immense frustration they felt when these two last met.

Town were 2-0 up and cruising to a seemingly comfortable three points against the Shrimps, then managed by Jim Bentley, in September before two late goals, including a stoppage-time equaliser for the second week running, pegged them back to a 2-2 draw.

But this team is now a very different beast to the one which collapsed at the Globe Arena. They've improved, matured and surged up the table as a result, so much so it is possible that, with victory tomorrow and then again at Leyton Orient on Tuesday, they'll move into the top three.

However, as Keith Curle has touched on and as Stevenage proved two weeks ago, Morecambe's lowly league position is no guarantee of an easy three points.

Bentley was the EFL's longest-serving manager up until October when he ended his 17-year affiliation with Morecambe - nine as a player, eight as a manager - by resigning and immediately taking up the reins at AFC Fylde in the National League.

Former Plymouth and Ross County boss Derek Adams was named Bentley's replacement but it continues to be a battle for survival for Morecambe, who seem to struggle every year and yet somehow always avoid dropping into non-league.

And once again they might well get away with it. Due to Bury's demise, only one team will be relegated from League Two this season and Tuesday's crucial 2-1 win over Port Vale has given them breathing space over basement outfit and relegation rivals Stevenage.

At home Morecambe are a tough nut to crack but it's a very different story on the road. They've conceded more goals on their travels than any other team in the division and their tally of eight points from 13 games is only better than Stevenage.

With that in mind, it's probably not ideal for them to be travelling away to a team with one of the league's best home records. Cobblers are unbeaten in eight games at the PTS, winning seven.

Another victory on Saturday would almost certainly guarantee them a play-off spot due to rivals taking each other elsewhere as fourth-placed Crewe host third-placed Cheltenham in a tasty clash at Gresty Road.

Tomorrow also marks the start of another busy and important period in Town's season. They go to Orient next Tuesday and then welcome Derby in the FA Cup on Friday, followed by another two league games in quick succession.

But, for Curle and his players, all the focus is on Morecambe. As the old mantra goes: one game at a time.

Prediction: Northampton Town 2 Morecambe 0