Preview: Lincoln City v Morecambe
It's the Imps versus the Shrimps on Saturday, as Lincoln welcome Morecambe to Sincil Bank for their first home fixture back in the Football League.
As Danny Cowley's men search for their first win of the season, there are a couple of selection dilemmas as the Imps' boss tries to work out his best team. With Matt Green hauled off on the hour on Tuesday night and Matt Rhead only coming on for the last ten, you'd expect those two to play up front and a return to the formula that served City so well through a record breaking 2016/17. Billy Knott's improved second half performance may be food for thought though, while the potential availability of Luke Waterfall and Josh Ginnelly - who played so well at Wycombe - could prompt further changes.
Morecambe meanwhile, have had both of their opening two fixtures decided in added time. They saw off Cheltenham Town on the opening day thanks to a brace from returning hero Garry Thompson - who celebrates his 37th birthday in November - before narrowly going down to Barnsley in a seven-goal thriller at Oakwell.
And despite being one of the bookies' pre-season favourites for relegation, Jim Bentley's Shrimps will represent a stern test for a side adjusting to life back in the Football League. Morecambe were decent away from home last season, picking up thirty of their fifty-two points on the road (including impressive wins at the likes of Cambridge and Stevenage), and have tended to start their League Two seasons pretty strongly; Jim Bentley's men won four out of their first five in 2016/17.
A few familiar names are likely to be on their team sheet on Saturday, too. Vadaine Oliver will need no introduction as one of City's heroes in a dark 2012-13 campaign, although the big front man has perhaps not seen his career hit the heights one might have expected after that season, with unsuccessful spells at Notts County and Crewe Alexandra in the league leading to a spell back in the Conference. He is also no stranger to Danny Cowley's Lincoln City, forming a physical front two with Jon Parkin at York that caused the Imps a number of problems during 2017 clashes across the League and FA Trophy.
Another name that shouldn't need much introduction is Kevin Ellison, who had a loan spell at City a full thirteen years ago! The 38-year-old has amassed well over 500 league appearances and like Thompson, is another very experienced member of the Shrimps side. Patrick Brough meanwhile, may be a less memorable ex-Imp, playing just four times on loan in 2016. Brough was released by Carlisle this summer following a loan spell at Salford and is likely to line up at left-back.
In terms of recent history between the two clubs, City actually did the double over Morecambe the last time they were in the football league. Moses Swaibu scored in an away win in November 2011, and the two clubs last met the following February when an Ashley Grimes brace saw City move into 13th place and make it 6 wins out of 7. We all know how it went from there, and the less said the better!
Danny Cowley noted in the pre-match press conference for this one how well the Shrimps did in difficult circumstances last season. A glance through 2016-17 sees that player wages were paid late, good players such as Tom Barkhuizen left mid-season and an ongoing off the pitch battle took place for club ownership, yet they still survived. That's the mark of a side with a bit of bottle.
However, Morecambe at home is kind of game you'd want the Imps to be winning if they are serious about continuing last season's momentum and pushing towards the top of League Two, especially ahead of a tough run of fixtures featuring Exeter away, Luton and Carlisle. Should be an interesting one in front of a healthy Imps contingent!