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FA Cup Preview: Crewe v Wycombe


The least said about last weekend's 3-1 League Two defeat to Oxford United at Adams Park the better.

In the aftermath Gareth Ainsworth admitted that the performance and result will not have done his chances of getting the manager's job on a permanent basis any good. However, reading between the lines it appears that it's only a matter of time before he will be announced as the full-time successor to Gary Waddock. None of us can know whether this is the right decision but he certainly is a class act, and deserves the backing of supporters as the club looks to safeguard its Football League status for another season.

He could certainly do with a bit more luck on the injury front and it doesn't help one bit when players enter the field of play carrying injuries without telling the manager and are then unable to finish the game. In a season where some players' professionalism has already been questioned, this stuff just adds fuel to the fire. Last time out we saw striker Jo Kuffour fail to make it to half-time with an ankle problem and it has left us with ten players unavailable through injury.

Modern day football does however see clubs carry big squads, with the big playing budgets that go alongside them, for the very reason that all clubs suffer injuries. Extenuating circumstances they may be, but the fight against relegation will need to be won regardless. This weekend sees the focus switch to 'magic of the cup' with the Blues travelling to Gresty Road to face League One Crewe Alexandra in a first round tie. It would be fair to say that in terms of glamour, this is almost off the scale!

The Railwaymen enjoyed something of a fairytale end to last season as they steamed up the League Two table from 17th place in December to 7th place and the final play-off spot in May, pipping both Gillingham and Oxford United. They then saw off Southend United in the two-legged semi-final before beating Cheltenham Town 2-0 in the final. Under the guidance of manager Steve Davis they put together an incredibly talented young side which through a combination of youthful exuberance and ability led them to real success.

As has always been the case with Crewe, they have since sold some of their starlets, including midfielder Ashley Westwood, for whom Aston Villa paid 2m, and striker Nick Powell, who joined Manchester United for 4m in the summer. Perhaps understandably they have found life in League One much tougher this season and currently sit in 17th place in the table and were beaten 1-0 at home by Yeovil Town last time out. The two sides have met a dozen times, all in the league, and in the six previous visits to Gresty Road the Chairboys have won just once and lost the other five.

The first meeting was a big one as it came in April 1994 with both clubs fighting it out for the third and final automatic promotion spot in the third division. A sell-out crowd saw Ashley Ward give the hosts the lead inside the opening sixty seconds but the visitors equalised in bizarre fashion on the quarter hour mark. Alex striker Darren Rowbotham completely sliced his attempted clearance on the edge of his own box and it looped up in the air before taking a ridiculous bounce to find the back of the net. Sadly with less than a quarter of an hour remaining Ward fired home his second of the game to give the Railwaymen a 2-1 victory.

Revenge was sweet six months later in September with both sides meeting in the second division. Cyrille Regis showed his goalscoring aptitude with a sharp header to give the Blues the lead before Dave Carroll curled home a trademark free-kick to make it 2-0 before half-time. The home side did pull a goal back after the break following a goalmouth scramble but the Wanderers held on to claim a thoroughly deserved 2-1 victory. Since then, both results and performances at Gresty Road have generally been miserable. There was a 2-0 defeat in January 1996 under Alan Smith with Steve McGavin seeing his penalty saved.

The following season saw a 3-0 mauling under new boss John Gregory and there was then a six and a half year gap before the two sides met again in a second division fixture on a Tuesday evening in March 2003. Lawrie Sanchez was in process of dismantling the F.A. Cup semi-final side and his 'new-look' team crashed to a 4-2 defeat with Jonny Dixon and Dannie Bulman finding the net for the visitors. The strength of the home side that night is shown in their goalscorers with Dean Ashton notching a brace and Rob Hulse also finding the net.

The last meeting came in League Two in January 2011 as Gary Waddock's men were on a great run of form. They had won five games on the bounce but proved to be no match for the Railwaymen who scored three times in the final twenty minutes to win it 3-0. Clayton Donaldson notched a brace whilst Shaun Miller, who was to disgrace himself with his appalling diving antics at Adams Park three months later, added a third. Alex included a certain Joel Grant in their side that day.

Gareth Ainsworth has a huge number of players unavailable for the weekend cup clash. Firstly there are question marks over Nikki Bull. It is not clear whether he is injured (depends on who you ask) and the return of goalkeeper Jordan Archer on loan from Tottenham Hotspur has understandably raised further questions. There have been rumours (which ought to be taken with a huge pinch of salt) that he is unhappy at the club and his mistake at the weekend was certainly out of character and indicative of a greater malaise. In what has already been a depressing season on-the-pitch, the sense that Bull's departure is drawing ever closer just adds to the dark mood.

Jo Kuffour has damaged his ankle ligaments and will be sidelined for 'a few weeks.' Midfielder Jesse Kewley-Graham is also ruled-out with a back problem. Defenders Danny Foster (groin) and Leon Johnson (knee) remain in the treatment room whilst striker Dennis Oli is still recovering from an ankle ligament injury. Full-back Marvin McCoy continues his rehabilitation after fracturing his left fibula and damaging ankle ligaments. No timescale has been set on a return to action for midfielder Matt Bloomfield as he battles with a groin problem. Full-back Grant Basey's surgery on an anterior cruciate ligament injury was successful but he will miss the rest of the season.

Striker Dean Morgan is still struggling with a hamstring injury and seems unlikely to be risked. There is at least some better news with winger Bruno Andrade having recovered from a bruised foot and striker Matt McClure having overcome the latest in a series of hamstring tweaks. Both players could be named in the squad and the Wanderers may line-up as follows (4-4-2):

Jordan Archer

Anthony Stewart - Dave Winfield - Gary Doherty - Charles Dunne

Bruno Andrade - Josh Scowen - Stuart Lewis - Sam Wood

Joel Grant - Richard Logan

Subs: Lee Harrison, Kortney Hause, Matt Spring, Gareth Ainsworth, Junior Morais, Matt McClure, Oliver Taylor

Crewe Alexandra have been beset by injuries themselves with half-a-dozen players missing their defeat to the Glovers last weekend. Boss Steve Davis was able to hand midfielder Michael West his debut after he recovered from an Achilles injury but was without the services of loan midfielder Andy Bond who missed out with a groin injury. He has now returned to parent club Colchester United following the end of his loan.

Davis didn't risk naming striker Max Clayton due to a groin problem whilst midfielder Abdul Osman suffered a recurrence of an ankle injury but both are set to be in the squad to face the Blues this weekend. Teenage winger Ryan Colclough is ruled-out with a broken jaw whilst striker Ajay Leitch-Smith will be sidelined for at least another fortnight with an ankle injury. It could see Davis make a move to sign striker Ryan Lowe on loan. The Railwaymen may line-up something like this (4-4-1-1):

Alan Martin

Kelvin Mellor - Harry Davis - Mark Ellis - Matt Tootle

Michael West - Luke Murphy - Abdul Osman - Byron Moore

Chuks Aneke

Mathias Pogba

Subs: Steve Phillips, Adam Dugdale, Gregor Robertson, Oliver Turton, Brendan Daniels, Harry Clayton, Max Clayton


Here are all the stats...


Crewe are 18th in LG1 with 17 points from 15 games.

Wycombe are 22nd in LG2 with 12 points from 14 games.


Crewe's Home Record (all comps).........W 4 - D 2 - L 3

Wycombe's Away record (all comps).....W 3 - D 0 - L 6


Crewe's Cup record this season

Lg Cup: Hartlepool (H).....Won 5-0

Lg Cup: West Ham (A)......Lost 0-2

JPT: Shrewsbury (A)........Won 2-1


Wycombe's Cup record this season

Lg Cup: Watford (A)........Lost 0-1 (aet)

JPT: Portsmouth (A)........Won 3-1


Crewe's FA Cup record - Last six years

2006/07: Round - 1
2007/08: Round - 2
2008/09: Round - 3
2009/10: Round - 1
2010/11: Round - 1
2011/12: Round - 1


Wycombe's FA Cup record - Last six years

2006/07: Round - 2
2007/08: Round - 1
2008/09: Round - 2
2009/10: Round - 1
2010/11: Round - 3
2011/12: Round - 1


Crewe's last five results (All Competitions)

JPT: Shrewsbury (A).........Won 2-1

Lg1: Portsmouth (A)..........Lost 0-2

Lg1: Walsall (A)...............Drew 2-2

Lg1: Swindon (H)..............Won 2-1

Lg1: Yeovil (H)..................Lost 0-1


Wycombe's last five results (All Competitions)

JPT: Portsmouth (A)...........Won 3-1

Lg2: Fleetwood (A).............Won 1-0

Lg2: Port Vale (A)...............Lost 1-4

Lg2: Barnet (H).................Drew 0-0

Lg2: Oxford Utd (H)............Lost 1-3


Crewe Goal Stats (18 games in all Competitions)

Goals Scored (Total)..........Lg: 14...Cups: 7...Total: 21

Goals Conceded (Total)......Lg: 21...Cups: 3...Total: 24

Goals Scored (Home).........Lg: 7.....Cups: 5...Total: 12

Goals Conceded (Home).....Lg: 8.....Cups: 0...Total: 8

Clean Sheets.....................Lg: 3.....Cups: 1...Total: 4


Wycombe Goal Stats (16 games in all Competitions)

Goals Scored (Total)..........Lg: 13...Cups: 3...Total: 16

Goals Conceded (Total)......Lg: 23...Cups: 2...Total: 25

Goals Scored (Away).........Lg: 8.....Cups: 3...Total: 11

Goals Conceded (Away).....Lg: 15...Cups: 2...Total: 17

Clean Sheets.....................Lg: 2.....Cups: 0...Total: 2


Crewe's Goal Scorers - (All Competitions)

Max Clayton..............4

Mathias Pogba...........4

Ajay Leitch-Smith......4

Mark Ellis..................2

Luke Murphy.............2

Byron Moore.............2

Chuks Aneke............2

Matt Tootle...............1


Wycombe's Goal Scorers - (All Competitions)

Joel Grant................3

Dean Morgan............3

OG..........................2

Gareth Ainsworth......1

Bruno Andrade.........1

Stuart Beavon..........1

Matt Bloomfield.........1

Gary Doherty...........1

Matt McClure............1

Josh Scowen............1

Sam Wood...............1


Crewe Shooting (Top-3) - All Competitions

Max Clayton.........15 on-target...8 off-target...0 against woodwork

A Leitch-Smith......14 on-target...6 off-target...1 against woodwork

Matthais Pogba.....11 on-target...9 off-target...0 against woodwork


Wycombe Shooting (Top-3) - All Competitions

Joel Grant..............8 on-target...10 off-target...0 against woodwork

Dean Morgan........10 on-target.....5 off-target...0 against woodwork

Joe Kuffour............5 on-target.....7 off-target...2 against woodwork


Shooting (Club) League only

Crewe..........64 on target...65 off target...5 against w'work

Wycombe.....46 on target...53 off target...0 against w'work


Most Assists

Crewe - Moore & Murphy.......................3

Wycombe - Ainsworth, Grant & Lewis......2


Form Guide (All comps)

All Season

Crewe.........Pld: 18...W: 6...D: 5...L: 7

Wycombe....Pld: 16...W: 4...D: 3...L: 9


Last Five Games

Crewe.............WLDWL

Wycombe........WWLDL


Last Five Home Games

Crewe.............DLWWL


Last Five Away Games

Wycombe........LLWWL


Previous Meetings

In 12 previous meetings there have been 6 wins for Crewe, 4 for Wycombe and 2 draws.

At Gresty Road the tally is 5 wins for Alex, 1 for the Blues and 0 draws.

1993/94 LG2: Crewe 2 Wycombe 1

1994/95 LG1: Crewe 1 Wycombe 2

1995/96 LG1: Crewe 2 Wycombe 0

1996/97 LG1: Crewe 3 Wycombe 0

2002/03 LG1: Crewe 4 Wycombe 2

2010/11 LG2: Crewe 3 Wycombe 0


The Man In The Middle

Saturday's referee is Andrew Madley from West Yorkshire who was promoted to the National List of Referees in 2011. Last season he took charge of two Wycombe defeats, a 1-0 loss at home to Bournemouth and a 4-1 thumping at Scunthorpe United. During the current campaign he's issued 0 red and 23 yellow cards in 9 appearances.


Predictions

Benny: Crewe 4 Wycombe 1

Len: Crewe 2 Wycombe 0




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The Journalist

Writer: Len Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Thursday November 1 2012

Time: 12:54PM

 

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