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MATCH PREVIEW: Swindon Town vs Crewe Alexandra

Town welcome Alex in crunch County Ground clash…

18 November 2022

Club News

MATCH PREVIEW: Swindon Town vs Crewe Alexandra

Town welcome Alex in crunch County Ground clash…

18 November 2022

Swindon Town come up against Crewe Alexandra this weekend as they look to push themselves further up the League Two standings towards the automatic promotion places.

With game day fast approaching, we’re looking ahead to the County Ground fixture, and here’s a little insight into our Cheshire opponents.

The lowdown…

After a solid start to the season, The Railwaymen have fallen behind the leading pack thanks to a seven game winless run.

It was a streak that resulted in former manager Alex Morris stepping down with his assistant Lee Bell taking the reins on an interim basis.

The Cheshire outfit are widely regarded for developing young talent, bringing the likes of David Platt, Danny Murphy and Dean Ashton through the Gresty Road ranks.

Formed in 1887, Crewe were named after Princess Alexandra, and in 1888, they enjoyed a long cup run which led them to the FA Cup semi-final, where four years later, they were a founding member of the Football League Second Division.

From 1894 to 1982, they finished at the foot of the Football League eight times – more than any other club.

The 1930s would bring consecutive Welsh Cup victories as Alex won the 1936 and 1937 edition of the competition.

Following World War Two, supporters would grow sick of away days as their team went 56 games without a win away from home, but the tables would soon turn in the 1960s as they claimed two promotions.

The first in the club’s history came in 1963 with the second following five years later in 1968.

Unfortunately for Crewe, both promotions would result in immediate relegations.

From 1969, The Railwaymen would spend twenty years in the basement division of the Football League, during which time they would appoint Dario Gradi as manager in 1983.

He’d feature in the dugout 1,359 times from 1983 to 2011, during which he enhanced the club’s academy structure as well as implementing a technical style of play.

Crewe would soon reap the rewards on the pitch as they earned promotion in 1989. Off it they were receiving six figure sums for their young talent.

In 1994, they were promoted again with Neil Lennon becoming the first Crewe player to win an international cap since 1932.

After two failed bids in the play-offs, Alex reached the second tier in 1997 after beating Brentford at Wembley. It would be the first time they’d competed at that level since 1896.

During their time in the Championship, Crewe would continue to sell bright talent with Murphy and Ashton departing for a combined £4.5million.

More recently, Crewe were promoted alongside Town during the COVID affected 2019/20 season.

DID YOU KNOW? : In a match against Bradford in 1924, Crewe were awarded four penalties in only five minutes. Somehow only one was scored with them having to repaint the penalty spot at half time due to it becoming obscured.

Previous meetings…

The last five clashes between Town and Alexandra haven’t been short of goals, with fans no doubt hoping today’s match-up will be equally as entertaining.

Despite a division separating the pair last season, they met in the first round of the FA Cup with Swindon emerging 3-0 winners at Gresty Road.

A brace from Louis Reed and a Tyreece Simpson goal was enough that day to see The Robins safely through to the next round of the competition.

You have to go back to the 2020/21 season for their previous meetings, where both sides were competing in League One and shared a win apiece in their double-header.

Crewe won 4-2 on home soil in the first meeting that term back in December 2020, before Swindon got revenge by inflicting a narrow 2-1 defeat on Alex at SN1 with goals coming from Travis Johnson, who put the ball into his own net to level the tie, before Scott Twine notched a 94th minute winner.

The two sides were forced to settle for a win each again the season before that too.

In October 2019, Crewe won 3-1 at home, before conceding three on their travels to Wiltshire later that season, as Rob Hunt, Jerry Yates and Danny Rose found the net at the County Ground in January 2020.

Crewe’s season so far…

It’s not been the season Crewe fans would have hoped for following their sides relegation from League One last term.

They currently sit sixteenth in the standings with five wins to their name so far, although their interim boss Lee Bell has had an instant impact, winning his last two, and defeating Leeds United Under-21s on penalties in an EFL Trophy clash.

Before their recent unbeaten run, they’d recorded just one win in fourteen in all competitions, form which led to previous manager Alex Morris getting the boot.

Other results aside, it’s a case of one league win in eight for the Cheshire side, so they’ll be keen to improve on that.

They’ve scored sixteen goals this term, which is one of the lowest in the division, however, they don’t tend to concede a lot either, with twenty let in.

But travelling has proved their main downfall this season, with their last away win coming back on the opening day in a 2-1 win over Rochdale.

The Interim Manager: Lee Bell…

The 39-year-old took charge on a temporary basis earlier this month.

He’s had an immediate impact and currently boasts a one hundred per cent record after two straight one-nil victories.

Bell has been with the club since 2015, rising through the ranks from Under-18s manager to assistant.

He’s a product of the Crewe Academy himself, where in his first spell, made 53 outings, winning promotion in 2003.

The midfielder would re-join Alex for a second spell in 2010, and would feature 75 times, playing an integral role in the club’s play-off success in 2012.

Players to watch…

Arthur Okonkwo

On loan from Premier League side Arsenal, the 21-year-old has lined up 19 times between the sticks this season for Crewe.

Standing tall at six-foot, six-inches, the stopper has been with The Gunners since the tender age of eight.

He has since risen through the ranks, going on to feature in both the Arsenal and England youth setups.

The youngster kept a clean sheet on his home debut for Crewe and has recently gone on to register three more in his last three games in all competitions.

The keeper has cited Petr Cech and David De Gea as the main influences on his goalkeeping style.

Kelvin Mellor

The hometown boy is in his second stint with The Railwaymen after signing from Carlisle back in the summer.

The 31-year-old first appeared for Crewe as a substitute in 2010 before breaking into the first team, enjoying several loan spells which includes one in Iceland with ÍBV.

In his first spell at Alex, Mellor won promotion to League One as well as the EFL Trophy. He’d then leave for Plymouth in 2014 having made 92 outings.

While at Plymouth, he would make another 92 appearances over the course of two campaigns before going on to become an ever present at Blackpool, Bradford City and Morecambe for two seasons each.

He’d then put pen to paper with Carlisle last season but was limited to just 25 games.

Luke Offord

The club captain has been a regular starter for Crewe this season.

The Chichester-born youngster is yet another cab off the Alex rank having been with the club since 2017.

After learning his trade on loan with Witton Albion and Nantwich Town, the 22-year-old featured in Crewe’s 2019/20 promotion campaign.

The centre-half would then go on to become a key cog at the heart of the Crewe defence in League One.

So impressive were his displays, he was handed the captaincy, which immediately proved to be a wise decision as he led his side to consecutive victories at the start of the season for the first time since 1994/95.

Conor Thomas

The former Swindon man adds some much needed experience to the Crewe starting eleven having amassed over 250 career appearances, which led him to put pen to paper on a new deal last summer.

The midfielder started life with Coventry City where he’d later make his debut in 2011.

A brief spell at Liverpool followed before a return to the Sky Blues, where he’d make over 100 appearances.

Next up was a season at Swindon where he’d appear regularly during the 2016/17 campaign - his one and only goal for the club would come in a 1-0 win over Millwall.

After a brief spell playing in India, Thomas would return to the West Country to sign for Cheltenham in 2018, and while at Whaddon Road, the 29-year-old featured 146 times, playing an integral role in the club’s promotion to League One.

Tariq Uwakwe

A versatile player who has mostly appeared in midfield this season.

The 22-year-old joined Chelsea’s prestigious academy aged just eight, and it was at the Premier League side he experienced his first taste for men’s football on loan at Accrington.

During his time with Stanley, Uwakwe appeared 21 times in total, scoring a hat-trick in the EFL Trophy.

The midfielder was added to the Crewe ranks in January this year and has four assists to his name this far.

The Islington-born ace has represented England at Under-18, Under-19 and Under-20 youth levels.

Dan Agyei

The 25-year-old netted the winner in their last game, as Alex claimed a narrow 1-0 victory over Colchester last weekend.

He came through the ranks at AFC Wimbledon where he netted 35 times for their Under-21 side in one season.

This drew the attention of Burnley who signed him in 2015. The following season saw him moving to Coventry City on loan, where he hit their fastest ever goal at the Ricoh Arena.

After further loan stints at Walsall and Blackpool, Agyei joined Oxford in 2019.

During his time at the Kassam, he scored 11 times in 93 games. Since joining Crewe in January, he’s added six goals to his tally.

Courtney Baker-Richardson

After developing at Coventry City, the 26-year-old has featured for an array of non-league clubs.

However, his hard graft would be rewarded with a move to Premier League outfit Swansea City in 2017.

Having left the Swans in 2020, Baker-Richardson returned to South Wales in 2021 with Newport County.

With eight goals to his name at Rodney Parade, the marksman relocated to Gresty Road in the summer.

This season, he’s already bagged another eight strikes.

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