Competing in Sky Bet League One for the first time in the club’s history, Morecambe defied all the odd when they earned their place in the third tier by defeating Newport County in the play-off finals last term.
Morecambe’s manager Derek Adams left the club days after winning the play-offs and was replaced by Stephen Robinson – the 46-year-old was fresh from a role at Motherwell. Despite having managed in League One before, serving just under six months in charge at Oldham Athletic during the 2016/17 season, Robinson says he has had to deal with setbacks he never experienced previously in his managerial career in the current campaign.
Injuries and COVID have hit a number of clubs across all levels of English football for several seasons, and – perhaps unsurprisingly – sides further down the table in lower leagues have suffered more than most.
For Morecambe, the absence of players like Adam Phillips, set to be side-lined for a second spell this season due to injury, and top goal scorer Cole Stockton for certain games has left the Shrimps in a precarious situation for many games throughout the season. They have been forced to use many different players, utilizing several different line-ups.
Rovers travel to the Mazuma Stadium on Sunday with the Shrimps sitting 21st in the League One table with 20 points. They’re four points ahead of Rovers, who sit bottom of the table.
Robinson’s defence had a tough start to December - which included a 5-0 defeat away to Sunderland – but kept two clean sheets later in the month: a 1-0 win away to Buxton in the second round of the Emirates FA Cup, and a 0-0 draw with Fleetwood Town. In the month of December across all competitions, Morecambe earned one win, three losses and a draw.
Robinson has tried to adapt to the ever-changing landscape of his team, using a combination of 4-3-3, 4-4-2 and even a 5-3-2 formation to try and pull together a string of positive results for his side.
Since playing Rovers on September 18, Morecambe has accumulated five wins, lost 10 and picked up five draws across all competitions. In their last 15 games, the Shrimps have picked up three wins (two coming in the Emirates FA Cup), lost nine and drawn three.
Across all competitions, the Shrimps have scored 38 goals this season, while conceding 56 goals to the opposition. Of the 38 goals scored for the club, Stockton has registered a massive 16 of those goals, with Phillips contributing another six goals. In league play, the Shrimps have allowed 46 goals and scored 30 of their own.
As a team, Morecambe average 1.30 goals per game, while giving up roughly two goals per contest. Despite having a total of 12 different players in the scoring column for the Shrimps this season, 24 of the team’s goals have come by way of just five players.