Matthew Crichton: Since the two sides last faced, Stephen Robinson resigned as Morecambe manager to join St Mirren, were fans disappointed by that decision?
Tom Collins: It came as a complete shock. Stephen arrived with a long-term plan to support our ambition to be a sustainable League One club.
Despite being 21st and winless in 5 when he left I felt optimistic that we were on the cusp of getting positive results towards survival.
We’d started to see an improved level of performances, without the results as a reward. Who knows what would have happened if he had remained in charge?
Most fans feel somewhat let down by the decision to leave the project prematurely.
MC: The man who replaced him was the man who took Morecambe up from League Two, Derek Adams, how did his return go down with supporters?
TC: The vast majority were happy and optimistic to see Derek return. He’d taken us from bottom of League Two in November 2019 to promotion through the playoffs in May 2021 with one of the smallest budgets in League Two. What’s not to like?
A small number of fans were a bit sore with him leaving to go to Bradford, but personally I think he’d more than done his job and ‘earnt his right’ to make that decision without any ill feeling. In Derek we trust.
MC: Morecambe currently sit two points above the relegation zone with one match to go, are you feeling confident about achieving survival?
TC: Anything can happen in football, but I feel optimistic that results should fall our way to survive the drop. I’d love it if we could grab a result so we don’t even need other results to go our way.
MC: Cole Stockton was recently snubbed in the League One Team of The Year, do you think he was hard done by given that he scored four more than Rotherham’s Michael Smith?
TC: Yes. I think Cole deserved to be in the final three for the nomination.
At times, Cole has dug us out of holes to earn us points which didn’t look likely throughout the whole season.
He’s also scored what seems like goal of the season contenders every other month. You then add the fact that he offers great link up play and he’s been the dream number nine for us this season.
In addition to this, his half-way line winner in injury time didn’t make the top 6 nominations for goal of the season! Unbelievable. What are they thinking at EFL headquarters?
MC: Morecambe signed former Sunderland goalkeeper Trevor Carson on loan in January - how has he performed during his spell with the club?
TC: He’s been fantastic. He’s looked solid taking crosses, assured with general keeping and pulled off some incredible saves.
His save late on vs Oxford to help earn us maximum points was one of the best saves I’ve ever seen from a Morecambe keeper.
MC: Aside from Stockton, which Morecambe players should Sunderland be wary of during the match?
TC: Since Derek arrived he has integrated Dylan Connolly into the side mainly on the right wing. He’s shown great work rate and has rapid pace. He has yet to score or assist since signing in January, but his pace will often require defences to keep on their toes.
Arthur Gnahoua on the left wing, signed by Stephen Robinson in the summer, has shown a bit more attacking intent in recent weeks and scored a brace with each foot away at Charlton two weeks ago.
After that, we have often played with two central midfielders who are quite attack-minded in Adam Phillips and Aaron Wildig who like to make late runs into the box.
MC: Your side have conceded the most goals in League One this season with 87, does that defensive record concern you given that Sunderland scored five past Morecambe earlier this year?
TC: Overall – we just haven’t defended well enough over the season so it’s always going to offer a concern. This is an area Derek has tried to simplify to reduce goals conceded and we’re less likely to play out from the back like we were under Stephen.
One thing to note is they’ll only be one of the back four and keeper combination playing against you – Jamaican international full back Greg Leigh.
Hopefully a different back-line will provide a different defensive performance compared to the game at The Stadium of Light!
MC: How do you think Adams will approach the match tactically and which eleven players do you think he will select?
TC: I expect us to allow you to have lots of the ball, be patient and when we win the ball back break up the field quickly with direct passes and get shots off.
4-1-2-3 – GK - Trevor Carson, RB – Greg Leigh, RCB – Rhys Bennett, LCB – Jacob Bedeau, LB – Liam Gibson, DM – Ousmane Fane, RCM – Adam Phillips, LCM Aaron Wildig (if fit), LW – Dylan Connolly, RW – Arthur Gnahoua, CF – Cole Stockton.
MC: A draw is likely to keep Morecambe up, what is your prediction for the final score?