Question of the Week
How long before new manager arrives?
|Will Slade Start?|
By: Richard Lord
MYSTERY surrounds Grimsby Town's starting eleven when they line up against Morecambe in the first round of the LDV Vans Trophy at Blundell Park on Tuesday night.
Russell Slade has already made it clear that he will field some of the squad's fringe players, but he'll also be hoping that his side avoid the potential banana skin that the visit of Morecambe will be hoping for.
The competition - which the Mariners won back in 1998 when it was better known as the Auto Windscreens Shield - is of minor significance set against the pressing matter of the league campaign, but it could provide further financial incentives for the club as a whole, although it has to be said that only in the later stages of the competition does that become apparent.
Morecambe currently occupy fifth spot in the Football Conference, and they are an experienced side at that level. The Shrimps have finished seventh (two places out of the play-offs) for the past couple of seasons running, and they have also finished runners-up but failed to win promotion by losing out in the play-offs.
This season aims to be another successful one for Morecambe, and the illusive promotion to the Football League could be well within their reach this time around. Although they've been strong at home this campaign, their weakness is their away form, whereas Grimsby's weakness is their home form.
Morecambe have only dropped two points at home, winning six of their seven games. However, on the road they have picked up just six points from a possible 21, yet they sit in the last play-off spot.
Their five goals on their travels appears to be small in quantity but they're also quite frugal in defence - they've conceded just seven. Four of their five away goals came in a 4-0 victory at Burton, and their last three away defeats have all been by a goal to nil.
One of Morecambe's more experienced players is Michael Twiss, who is also their current top goalscorer. The Salford-born midfielder started out at Manchester United and has spent time at Sheffield United and Port Vale, before he dropped down into the non-league scene. He won promotion back into the League with Chester City, but moved to Morecambe in May 2004.
W Dag & Red (h) 2-0|
L Kidderminster (a) 0-1
L Forest Green (a) 0-1
W Accrington (h) 3-2
W Stevenage (h) 4-1
W Cheltenham (a) 3-0|
L Wycombe (h) 0-1
D Shrewsbury (a) 0-0
W Notts County (h) 4-0
D Boston (a) 1-1
There are many possibilities for Russell Slade to consider when naming his starting eleven. John Lukic could replace Steve Mildenhall in goal and places could be available to Ciaran Toner, Simon Ramsden and Tony Crane - even Steve Slade could start up front, but Martin Gritton could also be utilised. Tom Newey is eligible to play according to the Official Website, and Gary Cohen could get a start on the wing or even up front.
Youngsters Paul Ashton and Nick Heggarty could be rewarded with a starting place or a substitute appearance after showing good form in the reserves.
Predicting the outcome of this isn't easy, especially as no one knows what the Mariners' starting line-up will be. Morecambe will certainly fancy their chances against a weakened Town side - and will be aware that Grimsby went out to a Conference side in Carlisle this time last season. 1-0 to the Mariners.
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