Date: 15th February 2020 at 10:00am
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This afternoon sees Crewe Alexandra make the long trip to Devon to face 4th-placed Plymouth Argyle at Home Park, the hosts looking to complete a league double following a 3-0 win at the Alexandra Stadium on the opening day of the season. They have Ryan Lowe and Steven Schumacher as their manager and assistant and have 5 former players on their books with Antoni Sarcevic, George Cooper and Byron Moore (all part of our Academy Alumni round-ups) joined by Joel Grant and former loanee Conor Grant part of their current squad.

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

In the cups, they lost to Reading in the EFL Cup 2nd Round after knocking out Leyton Orient in Round 1 whilst they lost to Bristol Rovers in the FA Cup 2nd Round after a replay after defeating Bolton Wanderers in the previous round. They also finished third in their EFL Trophy group after losing to Chelsea’s Under-21 side in the final matchday following wins over Bristol Rovers (on penalties) and Swindon.

Since the first meeting, they have made five loan signings with defender Josh Grant joining for the season (albeit spending a week back at parent club Chelsea at the start of last month), midfielder Tyreeq Bakinson joined from Bristol City, winger Cooper joined from Peterborough United (you can follow his progress in the Academy Alumni columns) while striker Ryan Hardie joined in January to replace Zak Rudden (who has since joined Partick Thistle on a permanent deal).

Looking back in the archives, the two teams have met 20 times with Plymouth leading the head-to-head with 10 wins to 6 and 4 draws. Crewe’s biggest win came in a 3-0 victory at the Alexandra Stadium in December 2004 whilst Argyle’s biggest victory came at Home Park by the same scoreline 2 months later.

Who are the officials for the game?

The officials for this game see Tom Nield as the man in the middle where he is assisted by Paul Kelly and Justin Amey with Ross Martin being the fourth official. Here are the Crewe games that have been refereed by Nield in the previous 5 years:

  • Chesterfield 0-2 Crewe Alexandra (26th December 2017) – Porter, Kirk
  • Crawley Town 1-2 Crewe Alexandra (28th April 2018) – Ng, Pickering
  • Crewe Alexandra 2-0 Cambridge United (27th November 2018) – Ainley, Miller
  • Crawley Town 1-2 Crewe Alexandra (20th August 2019) – Wintle, Green

I asked Plymouth Argyle supporter Josh Simpson for his thoughts going into the game and for the rest of the season.

How would you describe your season so far?

It’s been pretty much as expected, challenging at the top and on course for a chance to be there at the end of the season.

Which position is the one that you should have strengthened during the last transfer window that you didn’t?

I don’t really think we needed to strengthen anywhere other than up front, which we did. The rest of the team has been pretty solid. Bakinson in midfield and Hardie up top have been quality signings.

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

I’d imagine it would be Palmer, Edwards, Sawyer, Canavan, Wootton, Cooper, Bakinson, Mayor, Sarcevic, Jephcott and Moore. That would be my ideal line up.

How would you set-up to nullify your team?

We still seem a bit dodgy down the left, Cooper has certainly been exposed for his lack of defensive qualities of late. The only other chance is to try and stop Sarcevic and Mayor in the middle which is a tough ask.

Who is the dangerman for this game?

Sarcevic is the main danger man for me. Been unplayable of late. I’d also be wary of Hardie off the bench if I was the opposition.

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

Realistically I’d say we have to be aiming for top 3 now. Game(s) in hand on all three above us. Hitting form at the right time.