Date: 13th September 2018 at 4:00pm
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We are back into league action after having last week’s home game with Mansfield Town postponed due to the Stags having 3 international call-ups with a visit to Whaddon Road to face Cheltenham Town. They will be under new management for the game as former player Michael Duff was appointed earlier in the week (former Alex boss Steve Davis was in the running and had an interview according to Graham McGarry) after Gary Johnson’s sacking 3 weeks ago and the temporary leadership of Russell Milton.

They started off the season with 3 successive defeats against Crawley Town, Tranmere Rovers and Carlisle United before an up-turn in form with a draw at Macclesfield Town and a couple of wins on the road at Cambridge United and Northampton Town, with a defeat at home to Colchester United in between. In cup competitions, they beat Colchester before losing to Brentford in the EFL Cup whilst they lost at Forest Green Rovers in the EFL Trophy.

Looking back in the archives, the two teams have met 21 times with Crewe leading the head-to-head with 10 wins to 7 with 4 draws. Cheltenham’s biggest win came in November 2016 at the Alexandra Stadium during an FA Cup 1st Round replay as they won 4-1 whilst the Alex’s biggest win came in April 2011 with a 8-1 victory at the Alexandra Stadium. Last season saw a pair of home wins as Cheltenham won the corresponding fixture 1-0 whilst Crewe won on the final day of last season 2-1 as they started with the 2nd ever Academy 11.

Who are the officials for the game?

The officials for this game see Brett Huxtable as the man in the middle where he is assisted by Kevin Morris and Danny Gratton with Andrew Laver being the fourth official. During the last 5 seasons, the following Crewe games have been refereed by Huxtable:

  • Cheltenham Town 2-0 Crewe Alexandra (27th August 2016)
  • Notts County 4-1 Crewe Alexandra (3rd February 2018) – Miller
  • Newport County 1-0 Crewe Alexandra (11th August 2018)

I asked Cheltenham Town supporter Dave Higgins for his thoughts going into the game.

What do you think of Cheltenham’s transfer activity over the summer?

A little haphazard. We’ve brought in a real mixture of quality and experience in Mullins and Hussey, as well as some younger players looking to make a name for themselves. There’s quality in the squad but we were clearly lacking in some areas. Some have been addressed but I still feel we’re short on quality in a couple of areas despite having a bloated squad by League Two standards.

What do you think the team will be for Saturday’s game?

Difficult to say following Michael Duff’s appointment. It’ll be interesting to see if he favours the 4-1-4-1 used by Russ Milton recently, a version of 4-4-2 or something completely different. Either way, I expect the personnel to be similar to that which beat Northampton last week.

Who would you say is the one player that we should look for in the Robins’ team?

There are a few options for a player to look out for, but I’ll have to go for Jacob Maddox. He’s a very talented player with good technique, ability to beat a man and pick a pass. He’ll likely be key to how we play. It’s important that we get him on the ball as much as possible.

After the appointment of Michael Duff earlier in the week, what you do feel would be a successful season for Cheltenham?

Duff is stepping in at a key time for the club. There has been some restlessness for a while but his appointment appears to have united the supporters. There is still the issue of a bloated and unbalanced squad, but there is potential and talent in there. Supporters are just looking for signs of a plan and some progression following two years of stagnation. I believe we should be looking for anything around mid-table.

Who do you think will be promoted and relegated at the end of the season?

The league is wide open at the top end this year and it should be an interesting battle from number of clubs. With a complete stab in the dark, I’ll go with Lincoln, Colchester, MK Dons and Swindon. Going down is a little easier to decide on. Notts County have had a poor start but I don’t see them being relegated. I’ll go with Morecambe and Macclesfield to go down.