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Match Previews

Match preview: Morecambe v Bolton Wanderers

4 February 2022

Morecambe return to home action at the Mazuma Stadium when they take on Bolton Wanderers in Sky Bet League One on Saturday 5 February.

The Shrimps fell to defeat in midweek at Hillsborough, George Byers put Sheffield Wednesday ahead ten minutes into the second-half before Nathaniel Mendez-Laing doubled their lead in stoppage time to ensure all three points remained in South Yorkshire.
The two teams faced each other last season in League Two and Saturday’s visitors remain unbeaten against the Shrimps. Last time at the Mazuma, Kelvin Mellor saw red for Morecambe and Ian Evatt’s men went on to record a 1-0 win. In the reverse fixture at the University of Bolton Stadium, Brad Lyons’ 83rd minute goal cancelled out Bolton’s opener and the points were shared.
The Opposition
Wanderers come into Saturday’s game in fine form with four wins on the bounce. In midweek, they recorded a 2-0 victory over Cambridge United after hitting Sunderland for six at the weekend. This recent run of form has lifted Ian Evatt’s men to 11th in the League table. 
After being relegated from League One the previous season, the Trotters bounced back under the management of Evatt and secured the third automatic promotion place in League Two last season. 
Between 1999 and 2018, Evatt made over 500 professional appearances. He came through the youth setup at Derby County and made over 30 appearances for the club.
The central defender won two promotions with Blackpool and played for them in the Premier League before joining Chesterfield where he helped the Spireites win League Two and reach the League One Play-Offs.
After a brief spell as caretaker manager at Chesterfield, Evatt took his first steps in management at Barrow and won the club, who avoided relegation on the final day of the previous season, promotion to the Football League.
The following summer, the 40-year-old made the move to the University of Bolton Stadium following the dismissal of Keith Hill.
Key players
Dapo Afolayan is Wanderers' top scorer with ten goals so far this season in the league. The 24-year-old spent time as a youngster at a number of clubs before moving to Canada with his family where he played for Toronto Varsity Blues. Afolayan signed for National League club Solihull Moors in 2017 and made 45 appearances for them and scored 15 goals, earning a move to West Ham where he spent time on loan at Oldham Athletic, Mansfield Town and Bolton Wanderers before signing a permanent deal with the latter in May 2021.
Wanderers’ captain Ricardo Santos arrived at the club in August 2020 from Barnet where he spent two-and-a-half seasons. After playing the first two years of his senior career in non-league, the defender signed for Peterborough United in 2012 and went on to make over 60 appearances for the club before joining the Bees. Last season, Santos was voted Bolton's Player of the Year and was also named in League Two’s Team of the Season.
Amadou Bakayoko came through the youth setup at Walsall and made over 90 appearances for the Club. The 26-year-old spent time out on loan in non-league with Southport, AFC Telford United and Worcester City before joining Coventry City in August 2018. The Sierra Leone-born forward made over 60 appearances for the Sky Blues in League One and the Championship before leaving last summer following the expiry of his contract. Bakayoko joined Bolton before the start of the 2021/22 campaign on a two-year deal and has scored four goals for the Club so far.
Ian Evatt’s pre-match thoughts
Ahead of the game, the Wanderers boss said his team know what to expect from the Shrimps, and that his side are always wanting to improve.
"Performances will bring points, we need to make sure that we perform as best we can, we know what to expect from all of our opponents coming up,” he said.
“On Saturday, we will need the correct mindset, mentality, and a good attitude to be able to win that game.
"We want success and we want victories, I want us to finish higher in the table than we are at the moment, so we’ve got to keep going.
“Everything must be improved on, we always want to be better and we always want to improve." 
Shrimps’ pre-match thoughts
Stephen Robinson said if the Shrimps continue to play the way they have been doing, they’ll turn performances into results, but he’s well aware of the threat that Bolton will pose on Saturday.
“I believe we’ve got a really good spirit about the camp, we’ve got boys that want to be here and really want to play for the football Club and that bodes well,” he said.
“I’m confident that if we continue to play, we’ll turn the performances into results.
“Bolton have been fantastic, I’ve watched three of their last four games.
"They’re a very good football side, they’ve got a set way of playing and they won’t change that for anybody which is credit to them, they’re a real threat.”
Meet the men in the middle 
Cleveland-based Ross Joyce will referee Saturday’s game. Assistants Danny Gratton and Gary Hilton will run the line and Lewis Smith will be the Fourth Official. 
Joyce has taken charge of 22 games so far this season in League's One and Two, as well as a number of cup competitions. He’s awarded a total of 72 yellow cards and four reds.
Last time he took charge of the Shrimps was in November for a Papa John’s Trophy clash against Carlisle United at the Mazuma Stadium which the visitors won 2-0.
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 on 103.5FM, 107.5FM and DAB+ digital radio across North Lancashire and South Cumbria 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 much more!

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