Preview: Morecambe vs. Doncaster Rovers

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Two sides in desperate need for the points go head to head in League One on Sunday, with Morecambe hosting Doncaster Rovers at the Mazuma Stadium.

Both find themselves in the midst of a relegation battle after the festive period failed to bring either side much joy, but will now look to begin the new year with a vital victory.

Match preview

Morecambe’s stay in the third tier could be a short one unless results can be turned around quickly for Steve Robinson‘s side.

The Shrimps head into 2022 in 21st place, three places and four points better off than their opponents on Sunday, but still in the drop zone nonetheless.

A win over Doncaster could well lift them out of there though, although that continues to be a tough task for the side with the division’s leakiest defence.

A league-high 46 goals have already been conceded at the halfway stage of the campaign, which Robinson’s men did manage to offset for some periods earlier in the season with their efficiency in front of goal at the other end of the pitch.

However, Greg Leigh‘s goal against Crewe Alexandra in the 2-1 defeat on Tuesday evening was the first they had managed to net in five League One matches, so unless they can regain the clinical finishing that they possessed in the opening months, or tighten up their shaky defence, an immediate return to the fourth tier could be on the cards in the new year.

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As for the visitors, they will open the new year at the foot of the League One table when they make the trip to Morecambe on Sunday.

However, Donny will also head to the Mazuma Stadium with a permanent manager in charge, with Gary McSheffrey being appointed on a full-time basis after previously overseeing their last four fixtures on an interim basis.

The 39-year-old has impressed the board with his calming influence and the reaction that the players have given him, which will certainly be required if he is to lift the side clear of the drop zone.

Following many failed attempts at achieving promotion to the Championship in recent years, few could have predicted the fall of Doncaster this campaign, but McSheffrey will be keen for his players to focus on the present and the 24 games ahead that provide them with the opportunity to save their season.

With the three defeats and the 1-0 win over Shrewsbury Town all being played in front of their own supporters during his temporary reign, the new permanent boss will oversee his first away trip on Sunday.

Hopes will not be high though, with Doncaster picking up just a single point from their 11 away games in the league so far this campaign, and with just three goals being scored during that time, fixing the dreadful away form will be one of McSheffrey’s first priorities.

Morecambe League One form:

Morecambe form (all competitions):

Doncaster Rovers League One form:

Doncaster Rovers form (all competitions):

Team News

Morecambe are hopeful that Cole Stockton and Alfie McCalmont can return to their starting lineup on Sunday, after the influential duo missed the visit of Crewe in midweek.

The former has been one of the few bright sparks in their season so far, with an impressive return of 13 goals already despite playing in a struggling team.

Adam Phillips is a huge doubt to face Doncaster, after he had to be replaced shortly after half time against Crewe, with Robinson assessing the results of a scan in the coming days.

Scott Wootton, Courtney Duffus and Freddie Price definitely remain unavailable though, with the latter being ruled out for several months.

As for the visitors, they will have to do without the services of Rodrigo Vilca, who has returned to parent club Newcastle United after his loan spell finished.

The Peruvian had not featured since the end of November however, but one who had hoped to feature soon was captain Tom Anderson.

The central defender has been out for a couple of weeks through injury, but after suffering a setback, he is now set to miss the next month or so at least.

Ro-Shaun Williams remains unavailable as well, but Joe Dodoo has been passed fit despite coming off injured in the 3-0 defeat to Sunderland in midweek.

Morecambe possible starting lineup:
Letheren; McLaughlin, Gibson, O’Connor, Jones, Leigh; Wildig, McLoughlin, McCalmont; Stockton, Obika

Doncaster Rovers possible starting lineup:
Jones; Knoyle, Blythe, Olowu; Hasani, Smith, Galbraith, Horton; Rowe; Dodoo, Hiwula

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We say: Morecambe 2-1 Doncaster Rovers

With Doncaster’s dreadful away form to take into account, as well as the potential return of Stockton and McCalmont for Morecambe, we are predicting a home win in this one on Sunday.

It is a huge game for both sides considering their current positions, but the hosts will fancy their chances despite their continued troubles in defence.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting under 2.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 2.5:data

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