Ian Evatt gave Morecambe credit for keeping hold of star striker Cole Stockton in the January transfer window as he wants the Bolton Wanderers traveling fans to create a positive atmosphere for his side.
Stockton has been a goal machine for the Shrimps since joining the club in 2019, and has found a ruthless streak in front of goal in the past 18 months in particular.
He scored 15 goals for the Lancashire club last season as the Shrimps won promotion to League one via the play-offs, while he has 20 goals in all competitions so far this season.
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Transfer rumors had previously linked Wanderers with a move for the striker ahead of the January transfer window, and though Evatt admitted he was a fan, confirmed Bolton would not be signing the forward.
Bolton instead opted to sign Dion Charles from Accrington Stanley, as well as adding Jon Dadi Bodvarsson from Millwall on a free transfer.
Evatt believes credit must be given to Morecambe for keeping hold of their star man, who would have attracted interest.
Reports had linked Preston North End, Rotherham United, Barnsley and Oxford United as potentially weighing up moves for the striker, though none ever materialised.
Morecambe boss Stephen Robinson is pleased to still have the striker at the Mazuma Stadium and wants to speak to the forward about a new contract, which currently runs until the summer of 2023.
But Evatt is under no illusions of the test facing his side against the Shrimps and knows it will be a tough test to extend their winning ruin to five matches.
He said: “He is a goalscorer and considering he has been playing in a team which has been struggling he has scored a lot of goals.
“Strikers are hard to come by and I have no doubt there has been a lot of interest in him. Credit Morecambe they have kept hold of him, and maybe without him they would have struggled to survive.
“They took that risk and are doing their best to stay in the league, so full credit to them.
“I think it will be quite similar. I have watched a lot of their games of late and saw them live against Wigan, who could have been two or three down in the first 20 minutes. They put you under pressure, it can be a hostile place even though it isn’t the size of the crowd you see at a Sheffield Wednesday or a Sunderland, in terms of intimidation, it is there.
“We need the right mindset, energy and performance. All of those things will help us get the right result but it won’t be easy.”
Last season Wanderers traveled to Morecambe and picked up a 1-0 win courtesy of Ben Jackson’s goal, which helped them on their way to automatic promotion.
Hundreds of Wanderers fans gathered outside the ground to support the team and cheer them on and Evatt believes reconnection has been made with the club’s support as that demonstrated.
There were nervous moments in the win over Cambridge United in midweek when the visitors looked like they might get a route back into it.
But the fans provided an atmosphere which ensured the U’s found it difficult to do that and Evatt called on the away contingent to do the same when traveling to Morecambe tomorrow.
Evatt said: “The first thing I spoke about with Sharon when I came to the club was trying to reconnect with the fans, building trust. I think we did that last season even though they weren’t allowed in, we saw it with the scenes outside the stadium after we’d got promotion.
“We started this season exactly the same and, yes, there was a wobble. Fans have been rightly frustrated at times but in the last few weeks we have seen it build again.
“There is nothing like a last-minute winner away from home, so Shrewsbury was a great moment and I’d like to think we can give our away fans more of them this season.
“The best teams go again, the best players go again. If we have aspirations of being the best then we have to get over those moments.
“Tuesday was always a challenge but going back to the connection with the fans, they never allowed us to slack. It was such a positive atmosphere and the way we started the game, the fans fed off it. Cambridge will have found that difficult.
“We need our away fans to do that now at Morecambe. We need to show up and make sure we are doing the same things as we have been doing this month.
“I understand expectations among the fans but, believe me, nobody has higher expectations than I do. The players know it too.
“We are expected to win games. It is the job and industry we are in. We have won four on the trot but it is nowhere near enough – we need more and more to make up for that ropey few months. That might give us a chance.”