Date: 30th March 2019 at 8:00am
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This afternoon sees Cheltenham Town arrive at the Alexandra Stadium with former Alex players Luke Varney, Chris Clements and Northampton Town loanee Billy Waters (the latter two both feature on the Alex Academy round-ups) with both teams looking for all 3 points after the meeting in September ended goalless.

Looking at the visitors, so far this season they have 13 victories, 9 draws and 17 defeats in the league as they sit in 17th place. They have beaten Cambridge United twice, Northampton Town twice, Notts County twice, Newport County, Grimsby Town, MK Dons, Yeovil Town twice, Macclesfield Town and Port Vale, they have drawn against Macclesfield, us, Morecambe, Forest Green Rovers twice, Mansfield Town, Vale, Swindon Town and Bury whilst they have lost to Crawley Town twice, Tranmere Rovers twice, Carlisle United, Colchester United twice, Exeter City, Lincoln City, MK Dons, Oldham Athletic, Stevenage, Bury, Grimsby, Mansfield and Newport.

In cup competitions, they lost at Brentford in the 2nd Round of the EFL Cup after beating Colchester in Round 1 on penalties while they lost to Accrington Stanley in the 2nd Round of the FA Cup after knocking out Ebbsfleet after a replay in the previous round. They topped their EFL Trophy group that contained Arsenal’s Under-21 team, Forest Green and Coventry City, they beat Newport on penalties in Round 2 before losing to Oxford United on penalties.

Looking back in the archives, the two teams have met 22 times with Crewe leading the head-to-head with 10 wins to 7 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 a pair of home wins as Cheltenham won at Whaddon Road 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 Trevor Kettle as the man in the middle where he is assisted by Duncan Street and Geoffrey Liddle with Mark Cunliffe being the fourth official. During the last 5 seasons, the following Crewe games have been refereed by Kettle:

  • Crawley Town 1-2 Crewe Alexandra (5th April 2014) – Ikpeazu, Inman
  • Bristol City 3-0 Crewe Alexandra (17th March 2015)
  • Scunthorpe United 2-0 Crewe Alexandra (15th August 2015)
  • Crewe Alexandra 2-1 Morecambe (22nd November 2016) – Jones, Kiwomya
  • Plymouth Argyle 2-1 Crewe Alexandra (29th April 2017) – Jones
  • Crewe Alexandra 1-0 Stevenage (7th October 2017) – Bowery
  • Crewe Alexandra 1-1 Fleetwood Town (14th August 2018) – Wintle

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

How would you describe your season since our last meeting?

The last meeting was Michael Duff’s first game in charge and things have changed quite a bit since then. We struggled early on as Duff assessed the squad available but we’ve settled into a system and have been picking up points on a consistent basis which has pulled us away from the bottom two. We’ve become a bit of a force at home but we need to work out how to take that form on the road.

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

We’ll line up with a back five, probably three in midfield with two up top. I can’t see there being too much of a change from the win against Northampton. The only doubt is Ryan Broom, which would likely mean a chance for Conor Thomas to feature on the right.

Is Maddox still the danger man or is there someone else that we should look out for?

Maddox hasn’t featured too heavily over the past month. The biggest threat at the moment will be ex-Crewe man Luke Varney, he’s in a good run of form at the moment. Other than Luke, Chris Hussey is always a threat with his crosses and set-pieces.

Crewe fans will be familiar with your top-scorer Luke Varney, who has 13 since joining you in late-September, what impact has he had on the team since arriving and how do you feel he will impact the team next season assuming that he stays with the Robins?

Luke has been fantastic since he’s joined. His work-rate and professionalism has been a big asset to the club and a key contribution in pulling us away from a relegation struggle. I’m hopeful that he’ll remain at the club next season. He’s shown that he still has the legs and ability to perform in League Two and his personality off the pitch is just what the club need. He would be a fantastic character to work with a couple of the younger players looking to break through.

Any changes to who you think will be promoted and relegated?

Lincoln have opened up a nice lead at the top and are looking set to be joined by Bury and MK Dons. There’s still a chance that Colchester could make the play-offs. My original choices were Lincoln, Mansfield, Colchester and MK Dons, I’ll be happy with a 50% hit-rate.

I initially went with Morecambe and Macclesfield to go down but it looks certain to be 2 of Yeovil, Macclesfield and Notts County now. It’ll be interesting to see if Yeovil’s change of manager helps as they’re in freefall at the moment.