Date: 13th December 2019 at 8:00pm
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Tomorrow afternoon sees Mansfield Town arrive at the Alexandra Stadium as they sit in 18th place having started the season slowly having finished in the playoffs last season. Their squad includes Alex Academy product Nicky Maynard, who signed in the summer following the demise of Bury.

So far this season, they have beaten Carlisle United, Scunthorpe United, Grimsby Town, Oldham Athletic and Walsall, they have drawn with Newport County, Morecambe, Stevenage, Port Vale, Forest Green Rovers and Macclesfield Town while they have lost to Leyton Orient, Exeter City, Crawley Town, Cambridge United, Plymouth Argyle, Salford City, Colchester United, Swindon Town and Cheltenham Town.

In the cups, they lost to Morecambe on penalties in the EFL Cup while they lost in the FA Cup 2nd Round after beating Chorley in Round 1. In the EFL Trophy, they finished in second in their group having beaten Burton Albion as well as beating both Everton’s Under-21 side and ourselves before going out to Port Vale, again via penalties.

Over the summer, Mansfield have signed 8 players over the summer, 6 of which are permanent signings, a loan until January and a season-long loan while letting 12 leave the club permanently. Arriving at the club are goalkeeper Aiden Stone, defenders James Clarke and Conor Shaughnessy (EOS loan), midfielders Dion Donohue (who has since been released due to a disciplinary issue) and Kellan Gordon as well as forwards Andy Cook, Maynard and loanee Oladapo Afolayan.

Looking back in the archives, the two teams have met 80 times with Crewe leading the head-to-head with 32 wins to 30 with 18 draws. Crewe’s biggest win came in a 7-0 victory at the Alexandra Stadium in February 1933 while Mansfield’s biggest win came at the Field Mill on Xmas Day 1953 with a 6-0 win. Last season’s games saw both teams win their away games, Mansfield winning 3-0 in October in the corresponding fixture while the Alex won in Nottinghamshire in March.

Who are the officials for the game?

The officials for this game see Kevin Johnson as the man in the middle where he is assisted by Steven Plane and David Hunt with Abbas Khan being the fourth official. Here are the Crewe games that have been refereed by Johnson in the previous 5 years:

  • Chesterfield 1-0 Crewe Alexandra (6th April 2015)
  • Crewe Alexandra 1-2 Blackpool (19th March 2016) – Haber
  • Stevenage 1-2 Crewe Alexandra (6th August 2016) – Lowe, Kiwomya
  • Crewe Alexandra 5-0 Grimsby Town (11th February 2017) – Cooke, Cooper (2), Dagnall (2)
  • Colchester United 3-1 Crewe Alexandra (28th October 2017) – Bowery
  • Yeovil Town 1-1 Crewe Alexandra (23rd October 2018) – Bowery

I asked Mansfield supporter Sam Binch for her thoughts going into the game.

How would you describe your season so far?

A disaster. With pretty much the same squad that missed out on automatic promotion on the final day last season, we were expecting another strong campaign challenging at the top of the table. John Dempster has fallen way below those expectations and is very lucky to still be in a job.

Which position is the one that you should improve the most from the squad you currently have?

Take your pick! Midfield is the problem area, particularly centrally. We currently have the ageing Bishop, the energetic but unimaginative MacDonald, the hot and cold Mellis, the too often wasted in defence Shaugnessy and the battler Tomlinson. We need midfield goalscorers and a general.

What do you think the team will be for the game?

Preston Pearce Sweeney
Hamilton MacDonald Shaugnessy Mellis Benning
Maynard Rose

How would you set-up to nullify your team?

Keep Mellis shackled and close down Maynard in and around the box. Let the central defenders have the ball as much as possible, they’ll give it back to you. Put two defenders on CJ and keep him on his right foot.

Who is the danger man for this game?

Nicky Maynard. He’s largely fed on scraps but has been a little wasteful of late. He’s still the best hope of creating something out of nothing.

What do you think is a realistic aim for Mansfield this season?

Now, a top-half finish is the best we can hope for I think. We have a top three budget and but it has been completely wasted by John Dempster in the performances his team have churned out. We are the second-worst home side in the league, yet the powers that be still have not pulled the trigger.