The Shrimps travel to Priestfield Stadium on Saturday to face Steve Evans’ Gillingham in Sky Bet League One.
Stephen Robinson’s side head into the fixture on the back of their first defeat of the season, a narrow 1-0 defeat at home to Rotherham United on Tuesday night.
The two sides have played each other a total of eight times between 2008 and 2013, with all meetings coming in Sky Bet League Two. The hosts have won half of the previous meetings, with Morecambe winning one and drawing the remaining three.
Despite defeat in the last outing, Robinson’s men will still boast a great deal of confidence on the back of a strong start to the season both in the league and in the Carabao Cup.
Out of Gillingham’s opening four games in all competitions, Evans’ men have drawn two in the league, both 1-1 against Lincoln City and AFC Wimbledon respectively, lost away to Plymouth Argyle by a goal to nil and beat Crawley Town on penalties in Round One of the Carabao Cup.
In 2020/21, the Gills finished a respectable 10th place in Sky Bet League One on 67 points, missing out on the play-off spots by seven points.
Since taking the Priestfield Stadium hotseat, manager Evans has taken charge of 102 matches in 810 days, winning 39 games, drawing 28 and losing 35, averaging at 1.42 points-per-match.
Steve Evans’ pre-match thoughts
Gills' boss Steve Evans said his side can expect a tough afternoon against the Shrimps.
Speaking to the official club website, he said: "It will be tough tomorrow.
“The first thing you have to have is respect for all opponents. Morecambe will be organised and disciplined.
“There are certain benchmarks you look for. We need to get three points, but it will be difficult.
“This is a good test for us."
Gillingham’s key players
Club captain Kyle Dempsey was named Player of the Year for the 2020/21 campaign after scoring eight goals in 44 appearances from midfield. The 25-year-old started his career at Carlisle and went on to make spells at Huddersfield, Fleetwood and Peterborough before joining the Gills last summer.
21-year-old Jack Tucker was named the club’s 2020/21 Young Player of the Year for the second season in a row. The Kent-born defender came through the ranks at the Priestfield Stadium before breaking into the first team in 2019/20 and generating interest from other clubs.
Midfielder Ben Reeves joined the club in the summer after being released by Plymouth Argyle. The 29-year-old made 32 appearances in all competitions last season, scoring two goals in the process. As well as earning a number of promotions in his career, Reeves has also been capped twice for Northern Ireland in 2014/15, against Greece and Scotland respectively.
Shrimps’ pre-match thoughts
Speaking ahead of Morecambe’s second Sky Bet League One fixture on the road, first-team coach Diarmuid O’Carroll said he expects a tough afternoon against the Gills.
“It’s a very, very tough game,” O’Carroll said.
“Gillingham are proven, they know what they’re all about, they’re very, very difficult to play against.
“They’re a very physical side, they’re bought into their way of playing, their style of play, it’s a tough place to go.”
“Everyone’s different in terms of their style, but you know that he’s [Evans] going to have his team organised, they’re going to be hard to beat, they’re going to fight and run for him so if we get any points down there, they’re going to be earned and we’ll deserve it coming back up the road.”
Meet the men in black
The man in the middle for the fixture is West Yorkshire-based man Tom Nield. Ryan Whitaker and Marc Wilson will run the lines and Andrew Aylott has been named as fourth official.
Nield took charge of 32 games last season, including Morecambe’s 1-1 draw at home to Stevenage on 14 November. Throughout those games, he issued a total of 109 yellow cards and three red cards.
As well as refereeing many games in Sky Bet League’s One and Two, Nield has also been battling coronavirus for the NHS as a senior nurse/matron during the pandemic.
Don’t miss a kick with our iFollow coverage
After teaming up with Beyond Radio for the 2021/22 season, supporters will be able to listen to exclusive, full and uninterrupted radio commentary of every single game, home and away, which will be broadcast simultaneously across North Lancashire on 103.5 and 107.5FM, as well as on the iFollow Shrimps platform.
Joining host Dave Salmon is the club’s media assistant Matt Smith, audio passes are available from as little as £2.50 per match, £4.49 for a monthly pass or £45 for a season pass.
As well as full match commentary, the ‘Shrimps Verdict’ podcast will be available post-match, featuring online, on demand content, including audio match highlights, post-match interviews and reaction, and the chance for supporters to have their say.