The Shrimps return to Sky Bet League Two action following the international break with a trip to Sutton United.
Derek Adams’ side registered successive 3-1 wins in their previous two fixtures. Firstly, a JJ McKiernan hat-trick brushed aside Colchester United before a dominant performance over Barrow AFC in the EFL Trophy saw Charlie Brown, Cameron Rooney and Cammy Smith all register their first goals for the Shrimps.
The U’s travelled to Doncaster Rovers in their last outing and left empty handed after falling to a 4-1 defeat. The home side scored four before Harry Smith registered a 99th minute consolation.
During the two previous meetings, which came during the 1999/2000 season, the Shrimps came out on top in both fixtures; a 6-2 win at Christie Park was followed by a 1-0 away from home.
Since their first ever promotion to the EFL in 2020/21, United have enjoyed comfortable finishes season on season. Their first campaign back ended in an 8th place finish, missing out on a play-off place to Mansfield Town by just one point. Last season, they finished 14thwith 15 wins, 13 draws and 18 defeats.
It's been a challenging campaign to date for Sutton this time round. After 13 games played, they currently sit bottom of the League Two table with just two wins, one draw and 10 defeats. One of their two victories came on the opening day; an impressive 5-1 win over current second place Notts County.
Manager Matt Gray has been in charge since 1 May 2019, having previously spent time as Assistant Manager with the club following a stint in the same position at Crawley Town.
After 207 games, the 41-year-old holds an average points-per-game total of 1.52 with 89 wins, 47 draws and 71 defeats.
He also guided the club to the EFL Trophy final in 2022, where they ultimately lost by four goals to two against Rotherham United after extra time.
Harry Smith is currently the U’s’ top scorer with six goals in all competitions. The 28-year-old has played the majority of his football in England aside from a four-month loan spell north of the border with Motherwell. In 216 professional appearances, Smith has netted 56 times.
Last season, defender Joe Kizzi enjoyed a strong campaign and ended up scooping the Players’ Player and Supporters’ Player of the Year awards, on the same day he made his 100th appearance for the club. The 30-year-old spent his career in non-league with the likes of Billericay and Bromley before arriving at the VBS Community Stadium in July 2021.
Midfielder Josh Coley has proven a key player in Sutton’s attacking play so far this campaign with five assists in all competitions to date. The 25-year-old has 42 League Two appearances under his belt and nine in League Two having spent time at Exeter City and Harrogate Town respectively.
Matt Gray’s Pre-Match Thoughts
Ahead of Saturday’s meeting, Gray highlighted why he expects a tough game.
“They’ve got an experienced manager who’s been promoted out of this league, he knows what it takes to go and get results,” he said.
“Five wins, three draws and three defeats is a very steady and good start for them after coming down from League One.
“They’ve got good players, they freshen their squad up a bit, they’ve certainly got threats and, like we all know, it’s another tough game for us.”
James Connolly misses out through suspension after picking up a red card in our last outing at Colchester United.
Jake Taylor remains side-lined through injury with Eli King still unavailable.
Following international duty, JJ McKiernan, Jacob Bedeau and Michael Mellon are all available to feature.
Meet The Officials
Neil Hair will take charge of Saturday’s fixture alongside assistants Sam Ogles, Sian Massey-Ellis and fourth official Stuart Kane.
Hair has taken charge of five games so far this season; one in League Two, three in League One and one in the EFL Trophy. In those games, he’s issued a total of 22 yellow cards and no red cards.
The official last refereed the Shrimps back in November 2020 where we lost 2-1 away at Salford City.
Saturday’s trip to the capital will be available to listen on iFollow Shrimps with an audio match pass for just £2.50.
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