Tomorrow afternoon sees a trip to Cheltenham Town’s Whaddon Road with the hosts unbeaten at home so far in the league as they sit in 3rd place, directly behind the Alex.
So far this season, they have beaten Scunthorpe United, Carlisle United, Stevenage, Salford City, Bradford City and Plymouth Argyle, they’ve drawn against Morecambe and Swindon Town and have lost against Leyton Orient and Crawley Town. They lost at Bristol Rovers in the 1st Round of the EFL Cup and lost at Exeter City in their opening game in the EFL Trophy group that also contains West Ham United’s Under-21 side and Newport County.
Over the summer, Cheltenham have signed 10 players over the summer, 6 of which are permanent signings, one loan until January and 3 season-long loans while letting 13 leave the club permanently. Arriving at the club are defenders Charlie Raglan, Daniel Bowry and Jacob Greaves (loan), midfielders Rohan Ince, Max Sheaf and Jake Doyle-Hayes (both the latter two on loan) as well as forwards Tahvon Campbell, Reuben Reid, Jonte Smith and loanee Gavin Reilly.
Looking back in the archives, the two teams have met 23 times with Crewe leading the head-to-head with 10 wins to 8 with 5 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 an 8-1 victory at the Alexandra Stadium. Last season saw the Alex draw 0-0 in Gloucestershire in September before the Robins won 3-1 in Cheshire in March as George Ray was sent off in his final appearance for the Alex.
Who are the officials for the game?
The officials for this game see Lee Swabey as the man in the middle where he is assisted by Grant Taylor and Andrew Dallison with Ravel Cheosiaua being the fourth official. During the last 5 seasons the following Crewe games have been refereed by Swabey:
- Crewe Alexandra 3-1 Doncaster Rovers (30th April 2016) – Ainley, Haber, Inman
- Yeovil Town 3-0 Crewe Alexandra (17th April 2017)
- Barnet 2-1 Crewe Alexandra (30th March 2018) – McKirdy
- Crewe Alexandra 0-1 Carlisle United (10th November 2018, FA Cup)
I asked Cheltenham Town supporter Dave Higgins for his thoughts going into the game.
How would you describe your transfer activity this summer?
Very good. We managed to keep the core of the group together and picked up a few good unattached players in Ince, Reid, Raglan and Campbell. Add to that some younger players on-loan that look capable of playing at a higher level. Although Reid and Ince have unfortunately missed games, the rest have settled in well and we’ve continued to build on the good end to last season.
Which position is the one that you should improve the most from the squad you currently have?
We have a balanced squad right now and they’re all playing well at the moment, so it’s difficult to know where we could improve. Some have called for another striker but we have Varney, Campbell, Reilly, Addai, Lloyd and Reid to come back in. Perhaps an additional RB to cover Sean Long, but other than that I’m happy with the squad.
What do you think the team will be for the game?
For the first time in a long time, we’ve stuck with the same line-up for the previous 3 fixtures, so I expect it to be the same again if there aren’t any last-minute injuries.
Flinders; Long, Raglan, Tozer, Greaves, Hussey; Thomas, Doyle-Hayes; Broom; Varney, Reilly.
How would you set-up to nullify your team?
The last two sides to stop us scoring this season have lined-up with a 4-2-3-1 and pressed high. We have become better at playing out from the back and beating the press in recent games, though, but that might be the best way to nullify us.
Who is the danger man for this game?
The biggest danger is probably Luke Varney still, but a number of players have stepped up in recent weeks. Ryan Broom is one to look out for with his energy in midfield as you never know where he will pop up!
What do you think is a realistic aim for Cheltenham this season?
Although we’ve continued to improve from last year and have started the season fantastically, I feel a realistic aim is a top half finish with the hopes of a play-off push. That would be a fantastic achievement for Duff and the club given the mess we were in when he arrived.