Morecambe v Notts... STAY UNBEATEN match preview

Last updated : 25 January 2008 By Paul Smith
At last Notts won a game! Now to the next step. The 'time to believe' campaign got off to a great start with Ian McParland's men recording a long overdue three points against Chester City. Now it can't be a flash in the pan.
Christie Park... Ready for first Notts visit

When Notts make their first ever trip to the seaside resort of Morecambe for this winter clash, they must have the mindset of not getting beat.

Anther win would be huge, but a draw would be decent. The need to embark on an unbeaten run is vital, and getting a point at Christie Park would be considered a success.

Of course, Notts then have another away game at improving Brentford on Tuesday, so coming away from the two fixtures unscathed will be a decent achievement.

But if Notts really are too good to go down, it is something they must do.

For the record, Notts have recorded back to back wins just once this season as they toppled Wrexham and Accrington at the start of McParland's reign, while the longest unbeaten league run is just three games - little wonder the Magpies have struggled.

Artell... Race to be ready
Team News

Notts - McParland has been dented the chance of keeping faith with the winning eleven of last week, with Lee Canoville now suspended following five bookings. Ali Gibb and Neil MacKenzie are back in contention after missing out against Chester, while Jay Smith is close to a start after impressing in the reserves. Guy Branston remains sidelined meaning Mike Edwards could make his long awaited return.

Morecambe - Key defender David Artell faces a race against time to be fit for the game. The former Mansfield man picked up a knock in training and missed their last game. They will have Stewart Drummond available however, after he missed out against Shrewsbury having left the Shrews only a fortnight pereviously.

Form guide

Notts - The 1-0 success over Chester broke a disastrous run of six games without a win. It was only Notts' second win in 12, with eight of those games ending in defeat. The Magpies are now 18th in League Two, seven points above the drop zone. For the record, the playoffs are now 18 points away. Away from home Notts have just one win to their name.

Morecambe - The Shrimps have finally showed signs of stuttering after a superb first half of the campaign in their first ever Football League season. After being tipped for relegation straight back to the Conference, Sammy McIlroy's men lost just one of their first 8 fixtures and beat Championship sides Preston and Wolves in the Carling Cup. They have lost their last two games, but recently made the area final of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy and have won six of their last nine. They are 8th in the table, two points off the playoffs.

Last time out

Notts 1-1 Morecambe (Saturday September 1, 2007)
Butcher... Kept up goalscoring form with late leveller

In the first ever meeting between Football League's oldest and newest clubs, a late Richard Butcher header earnt Notts a point to continue the run of draws at the start of the season.

Hector Sam missed an open goal, inexplicably heading wide with the goal at his mercy, as early as the tenth minute.

Sam spurend another good chance soon after following a Jay Smith throughball, before Neil MacKenzie volleyed at goal but Artell blocked well.

Notts were made to pay when Jim Bentley knocked Craig Stanley's deep free-kick across goal for Micheal Twiss to tap home after 35 minutes.

Paul Mayo had a header cleared off the line just before the break, but Morecambe looked like holding on especially when Mayo again came close, inches away with a drive with ten minutes left.

But Man of the Match Mayo came up with a delightful cross for Butcher to head his fourth goal in four league outings, with just three minutes remaining. Mayo then nearly won it with a low shot that was well saved.

Key men

Notts - Stephen Hunt has looked back to his powerful best in recent weeks, and the young defender will need to keep his form against a difficult looking Morecambe attack tomorrow.

The former Southampton trainee started the season looking like he missed Mike Edwards too much, but in recent weeks - at both left-back and centre-back - Hunt has rose to the top with some sterling displays.

Baker... Dangerous creative threat
Many say he will play at a higher level, and recently he has proved people's estimations outbattling, outmuscling and getting the better of any opponent.

He was superb again last week, and his pace, strength and new found confidence will go a long way to helping Notts to a clean sheet. He could be marking the in-form Matty Blinkhorn who has netted six in his last nine games. A performance is needed.

Morecambe - Despite grabbing most of the headlines recently, Blinkhorn still plays second fiddle to winger Carl Baker in Shrimps' fans hearts.

Baker interested the likes of Wolves earlier in the season as his eye-catching performances on the wing brought a host of scouts flocking to Christie Park.

Baker is Morecambe's biggest creative threat, his skil, speed and delivery from out wide up there with the best in the division.

He also knows where the back of the net is, as the Shrimps' top scorer with nine, and was instrumental in there promotion last season.

If he is on song Morecambe will get plenty of chances, and with Blinkhorn in such devastating form that is a recipe for disaster.

Big battle

Jason Lee
returned to form last week, with a long overdue performance of
know-how, strength and work rate.

Lee won his headers, put himself about and helped the ball on to Adam Tann for Notts' winner.

He will have to be at his busiest against Morecambe skipper Jim Bentley who has earnt rave reviews for his partnership with Artell which has been the platform for Morecambe's fine season.

Bentley is a real leader, hard, uncompromising and always up for a physical battle.

This one could be brutal, and don't expect any niceties between two of the divisions toughest characters.

It could go a long way to deciding the game though. If Lee gets the better in the air, Notts may have some success in front of goal, if Bentley does, chances will be limited.

Possible line-ups

Notts (4-4-2) - Kevin Pilkington; Gary Silk, Adam Tann, Stephen Hunt, Austin McCann; Ali Gibb, Richard Butcher, Gavin Strachan, Felix Bastians; Jason Lee, Lawrie Dudfield.

Morecambe (4-4-2) - Shwan Jalal; Adam Yates, Jim Bentley, David Artell, Danny Adams; Garry Thompson, Craig Stanley, Stewart Drummond, Carl Baker; Matty Blinkhorn, Michael Twiss.


Notts will have a bit of feel-good factor back and defensively have been impressive - other than Bradford - recently. That should be enough to earn a hard working draw with 0-0 or 1-1 likely.