|Ipswich Town 2 v 1 Crewe Alexandra|
SkyBet League One
Sunday, 28th November 2021 Kick-off 15:00
Inevitable That League Two Beckons For Next Season - Notes for Crewe Alexandra
Friday, 26th Nov 2021 15:00 by TomTheWriter
TomTheWriter assesses the mood in the opposition camp as Town host bottom-of-the-league Crewe looking for a vital three points following the defeats to Sunderland and Rotherham.
With Town’s struggles continuing against sides above them in the table, they turn their attentions to an opponent in desperate need of points at the other end of the league.
Crewe Alexandra have been at the foot of the table for a few weeks now.So far this season, the Alex have picked up two wins, six draws and 11 defeats from their 19 games, having played a game more than their relegation rivals.
Last year, Owen Dale was the leading man on the right wing, Charlie Kirk offered technical prowess and excellent ball control on the left, with Ryan Wintle providing tenacity from the middle.
“In every match we've seen flashes and glimpses of that football we came to expect of a [David] Artell team. Sadly, those flashes have been all too infrequent so far”, “His recruitment has been nothing short of abysmal but, as I have said, before what quality of player do we expect when our budget is two peas and a conker? The club needs serious investment”, “My admiration of Dave Artell, the man, has only grown with this decision as he himself asked for it.”
Crewe Alexandra boss Artell has been in charge of the Alex since 2017, having been part of their backroom staff for the previous three years. He arrived in a League Two relegation battle and has guided them on an impressive turnaround since.
“Who knows what formation Artell will adopt and which players will start”, “I'll say it again, Artell was lucky to get the gig over Ryan Lowe and even luckier to inherit a crop of potential Championship players”, “It’s not the players that are to blame it is Artell.”
After Crewe’s promotion from League Two at the end of the 2019/20 season, they set about building a project which could keep them moving up the table for the next few years. Artell is the man trusted with keeping them in the third tier and he did so successfully last season.
Settling in Mid-Table
“Considering everything that has been going on with Covid, I think we have (in the words Mike Channon) ‘dun good’”, “I have to say that the fact we flirted with the play-offs before the current downturn would have to mean that the season has been a good one”, “We have played some delightful football at times and brought on another crop of good young players and made some good signings.”
With promotion in the rearview mirror, Crewe looked to survive in League One last year. Their young side showed exuberance and flair to push themselves closer to the play-offs than the relegation zone.
“Definitely a good season, with a game to go we are only nine points away from a play-off position, more importantly 19 points above the relegation places. Rather pleasing to have finished in the highest position of all of last season’s promoted teams and by a significant margin”, “Very satisfied with our position in the league. We are the top team from last year’s promoted clubs”, “We have given young players a run in the side to gain experience.”
The Alex ended the season in 12th place in League One, the highest of the recently promoted sides.
After confirming their mid-table finish, Artell set about trying to maintain their League One status for another season.
Star youngsters Kirk and Dale left for Charlton Athletic and Blackpool, with the latter leaving on loan with a view to a permanent switch. Midfielder Ryan Wintle also left for the Championship, with Cardiff City the destination before moving to Blackpool on loan.
Centre-back Omar Beckles left for pastures new with Leyton Orient, with a handful of players moving on at the end of their contracts. Three players departed at the end of the loan deals.
Compared to the squad that ended the 2020/21 season, six of the starting XI remain from their 3-2 victory over Shrewsbury with five of the bench still at the club.
Crewe fans have found a few things to be positive about this season. “Strength in depth was more my point. DA predominantly plays a 4-3-3, with a lone target man up front”, “Think that our attacking formation will be quicker and more incisive this season”, “This season our attacks will be more direct and quicker.”
On the other hand, they have found plenty to be negative about. “Conceding goals from our own corners? This is becoming a regular, but not yet frequent, occurrence. This happens enough to let us know that other clubs know about this weakness”, “All we need now is another goalkeeper (?)”, “I have to say I am beginning to worry now.”
AFC Wimbledon 3-2 Crewe Alexandra
“Absolutely woeful, there are three bad teams in the league, Crewe, Gillingham and Doncaster and those three teams will be fighting it out for the bottom three places”, “Well, it sadly confirms what has been said before about the present squad not being up to what is required to play in League One”, “Ah well, off to Ipswich on Sunday.”
“Showed they could play in the last 15 minutes”, “I think the [Chris] Porter-[Chris] Long partnership needs to continue”, “One wonders who is charged with assessing the potential of new players before they join the club either on loan or bought in.”
Artell mainly used a 4-3-3 last season with his dynamic wingers Dale and Kirk the main contributors. For this game against Wimbledon, he lined up in a 5-3-2/3-5-2 variant.
Crewe Alexandra 2-0 Gillingham
“It was a really different performance that made it a very enjoyable game to watch”, “The movement off the ball was a joy in the first half”, “The backline, Billy Sass-Davies and Zak Williams, were immense. Great to see a backline of our own playing well. Gomes was mainly the only player who didn't play a large part.”
“Can I finish by saying that Gillingham and the referee were awful. We know what to expect from one of [Steve] Evans's teams but the off the ball stuff, the late dives into tackles, the nudges in the back as our players took off for headers were really outrageous”, “A good result, we looked like the Crewe of last season”, “Great win!”
Like the Wimbledon game, Artell set his Crewe side up in the 5-3-2/3-5-2 variant. This saw Scott Kashket play as a wing-back rather than his usual striker position.
“[Will] Jaaskelainen will likely be here next season as well as he'll get and sign a new deal”, “He seems to be Crewe's first choice at the moment and I don't really get why”, “Will Jaaskelainen in goal for Crewe today, son of ex-Bolton keeper Jussi.”
Finland youth international Jaaskelainen joined Crewe in 2017, having spent some time in the Bolton Wanderers academy. Has been the number one for the last few years, but has recently lost his spot to David Richards.
“I think it was a bit harsh to blame Richards for the Accrington goal”, “I'm afraid the bad Richards turned up a couple of times but made a couple of decent saves as well”, “Would like to see us go 4-4-2 with Richards in goal.”
Having been with Crewe since 2015, Richards has been mainly used as the back-up goalkeeper in his long tenure with the club, but has been pushed to the front of the queue for this season.
“[Kayne] Ramsey had a great start to the season”, “I get that occasionally he makes the wrong choices but I still feel he has a lot to give us going forward and in defence”, “It seems obvious to me that Rio [Adebisi] should revert to left-back and Ramsey reinstated as number two.”
Currently on loan from Southampton, Ramsey started the season as Crewe’s first choice right-back, trying to replicate the form of Perry Ng from last season. Has been missing from the first-team for the last month due to injury.
“[Travis] Johnson needs games”, “Travis Johnson has looked OK when he has played”, “We have too many loan players who will leave and we will have massive gaps to fill and during this time are not developing any of our own, Travis Johnson for example.”
Young defender Johnson is one of a handful of academy products in the Crewe first team this season, but has found game-time limited with other options ahead of him.
“[Billy] Sass-Davies played well”, “Time to give Sass-Davies a run of games”, “To me, this is an ideal opportunity for Sass-Davies.”
Wales youth international Sass-Davies progressed through from the academy in 2017 and has recently come back into the side after a short absence. Has partnered well with Zac Williams in the past two games.
“The ball was mainly kept moving on the floor at pace, retained most of the time, nobody looked uncomfortable doing it except Terell Thomas”, “Thomas will replace him and he hasn't looked too safe at times”, “Surprised he wasn't even on bench, but more so that Thomas wasn't - he seems to have dropped to four in the centre-back rankings suddenly.”
Summer signing Thomas departed AFC Wimbledon in the summer, joining Crewe after spending a lot of the window without a club. Has been a key member of the defence since his arrival.
“[Donervon] Daniels plays better (OK, it's all relative!) at right-back”, “If he's fit, Daniels instead of Billy Sass-Davies”, “Please don't spoil it by choosing Daniels in the back four!”
Capped once by Montserrat, Daniels is another member of the centre-backs union at Crewe. Had been used quite a lot in the defence for the first few months of the season, but has missed the last four games.
“Billy Sass and Zak Williams were immense. Great to see a back line of our own playing well”, “Just wanted to add congratulations to Zac Williams on his league debut last night - still only 16!”, “Williams's ability to bring the ball out of defence was exceptional.”
Sixteen-year-old defender Williams is the next talent off the conveyor belt at Crewe, making his debut against Wolves in the Papa John’s Trophy. Has started four games in a row since his debut.
“We could put Adebisi back on the left where he belongs”, “Adebisi was either really awful or good at varying times”, “I believe DA will change the formation around at some stage and Adebisi may be relieved of his current stress.”
Another academy product, Adebisi has been tasked with the taking over the reins from Harry Pickering following his departure to Blackburn Rovers. An attacking full-back by trade, he has missed only one league game this season.
“The number of times he lost track of his man, verged on the ridiculous”, “He's good going forward and offers a real threat in the opposition final third”, “His positional sense (or lack there of) coupled with an inability to remain concentrated on the job at hand, was breath-taking.”
Callum McFadzean was snapped up from Sunderland in the summer after his contract expired, adding to the defensive ranks and hoping to use his experience to help the youngsters out.
“With the showings that the likes of Williams and [Nathan] Woodthorpe put in last night, I'd play either of them at left wing-back before him, easily”, “McFadzean is a left-back/wing-back”, “McFadzean was meant to bring a lead-protecting line-up into everyone's minds I think, but he seemed to think he was a winger.”
However, since his arrival, he hasn’t been able to make too much of a difference on the pitch. Had been used a lot at left-back earlier in the season, but finds himself behind Adebisi right now.
“Felt sorry for [Luke] Offord. One of our more consistent performers and doesn't really deserve the ignominy of his mistake”, “As much as I am a fan of Offord, I think [Adebayo] Akinfenwa/[Sam] Vokes will be too strong for him”, “Would love to see Offord as a defensive midfielder one day - but let's walk before we try running.”
Another academy product in the first-team squad, Offord spent the majority of last season as the first-choice centre-back and the same has been the case this season.
“Offord could have played there last night but then we would have had Daniels at centre-back and I believe there are many not in favour of that”, “A central defender, though lacking in years and height, shows maturity beyond his years”, “He has an amazing ability to read the game and can often be seen intercepting opposition passes on the edge of the area.”
Has been one of the main defenders used for Crewe this season and has missed only two league games for the club this season, one of them the AFC Wimbledon match.
“Every time he lost the ball he stopped running, flung his arms in the air and started whingeing at the nearest red shirt”, “I don't think he's done his chances of getting back into the league starting XI any good with last night's showing”, “Watch the highlights and see how many times [Oli] Finney was involved in our attacking moves, including our second goal.”
Having progressed through from the academy five years ago, Finney has been a mainstay in the midfield the last few seasons. Started this campaign in the first-team, but has been in-and-out of the side for the last month.
“[Callum] Ainley I admit had just one decent game and that was early on so he may be relatively effective by now”, “I always fear the worse when I see a three-man midfield containing both [Josh] Lundstram and Ainley”, “At least Ainley is going in the right direction and playing in the right position.”
Another youth product, Ainley started the first eight league games of the season, but hasn’t been involved since the 1-1 draw against Rotherham United due to a hamstring injury.
“[Josh] Lundstram nowhere near good enough at present and would benefit from a loan spell at a League Two club”, “Lundstram is already showing up to be a talent as is Adebisi”, “Lundstram is not good enough (at present), he maybe in the future.”
The third straight academy player in the middle of the park, Lundstram was a surprise inclusion in the starting XI at the beginning of the season. Has recently been used off the bench, but hasn’t played since the 3-0 home FA Cup loss to Swindon Town.
“There others like [Madger] Gomes, who is on a longer contract, where I'm not sure what the best policy is”, “Gomes should have never started… totally ineffective”, “One of the worst players in a Crewe shirt I have ever seen.”
Summer signing Gomes departed Doncaster Rovers in the summer, before spending time on trial with multiple sides and eventually being snapped up by Crewe. Has been heavily involved since his arrival in September, starting the last three games.
“With the exception of [Scott] Robertson, the signings have not worked out as we would have hoped”, “Robertson is class but early on misplaced quite a few passes that were leading to promising moves”, “Does anyone know what Robertson did that got him a three-game suspension?”
Currently on loan from Celtic, Robertson spent last season with Doncaster Rovers and Gillingham. Has been a key man in the midfield this term, but has missed the last two games through suspension.
“[Regan] Griffiths looks like a ready-made replacement for Tom Lowery, if and when he goes in January”, “I would start with Griffiths, who can at least pass”, “We had [Joe] Robbins and Griffiths in there last night. A more robust two would probably be needed for league matches.”
Academy graduate Griffiths has been used sparingly this season, featuring only twice since the victory over Shrewsbury in August. Unlikely to be involved on Sunday.
“In the first half [Luke] Murphy and Lowery really controlled things”, “Anybody counting how many times Murph has given the ball away?”, “Couldn't understand the [Ben] Knight for Murphy sub though, so we went down to two proper midfielders when three wasn't enough.”
Experienced midfielder Murphy also progressed through from the Crewe Alexandra academy, but he did so back in 2008. Spent five years with the club, before climbing his way up the ladder with Leeds United before returning to Gresty Road in the summer of 2020 via Burton and Bolton.
“Robertson's absence gives Murphy another chance after being left out for a couple of games”, “Out of his depth at this level”, “Is this at the expense of loyal Murphy? That would be another issue to sadden me.”
Murphy has been a key part of an otherwise young midfield for this season. Has missed only two league games and is very likely to feature as part of the three-man midfield on Sunday.
“No doubt Tommy Lowery will be off in January as well but I would play him as he is the most likely to be the creative spark we are badly lacking”, “Playing a lot better since Tom came back into the team”, “A player whose contribution to defence is clear to all. He covers really well and often harries opposition midfielders until they lose the ball.”
Star midfielder Lowery missed the early part of the season due to a contract wrangle, but has found himself back in the first-team for the last few weeks.
“Tommy Lowery was a class above”, “I think that the club have accepted that he's leaving and so they have decided to make the most of his time remaining”, “Best player for us today.”
Likely to be leaving the club in either the winter or summer window, but has been key to their small revival at the bottom of the league. They will need him to be firing on Sunday.
“I think [J’Neil] Bennett against kids will be fine but we are playing against men and I that respect he is sadly lacking a luxury player we can ill afford”, “He looked so much more effective on that right-hand side. Far more willing to run at his man, far more like the player that excited us when he first arrived”, “I feel he definitely needs to be used down our right far more often.”
On loan from Tottenham Hotspur, Bennett has been a dynamic player for Crewe this season. However, he has missed the last three games, so it will be interesting to see if he features on Sunday.
“Very different lone striker than Mikael Mandron, Long relies on his pace and movement to make himself available for the ball”, “The number one priority is to save the season and we may just do it with Lowery playing and with Long settling into his role”, “Long and Kashket need to take turns in sticking relatively close to Mandron.”
Summer signing Long departed Motherwell in the summer to join Crewe, but saw his start to the season affected by injury. However, has been involved in the last month and currently has three goals to his name.
“Porter's now too old to play regularly”, “Porter will be used more sparingly but will get game-time but it’s probably a tussle between Mandron and Long to play up front”, “How many times did he misjudge his angles when running on to the ball from a drilled pass?”
Experienced striker Porter has been with Crewe since 2017 and was a key man in their promotion season two years ago. At 37, he doesn’t have many years left in the game, but has only missed one league game this season.
“Kashket was a revelation. Playing him deeper meant that he had much more of the ball and was able to utilise his speed more effectively”, “Kashket was, again very busy and at times, I wish he could play more infield as he might worry opposition defences a bit more”, “Not sure that Kashket is ideal for defensive duties.”
Picked up from Wycombe Wanderers this summer, Kashket has been arguably Crewe’s best attacking option during 2021/22. Currently has one goal this season, but his energy and tenacity has fans on his side. Seems to be used as a wing back recently.
Poached from the Academy
“[Ben] Knight looked good too when he entered the fray. Showed his game last night. drifting around, finding a pocket of space, and them receiving the ball on the half-turn, ready to quickly play in a colleague with his excellent range of passing or move forward with the ball”, “It's hard to see where Knight comes into the team when fit”, “Knight is injured.”
Ex-Ipswich youngster Knight was poached from the Town academy by Manchester City in 2018 and has found himself out in League One for the season with Crewe Alexandra. Made his debut for the Citizens in the Community Shield in August, but has seen his time with Crewe affected by injury.
“Up front, it must be Mandron starting as it should be a passing game”, “Mandron is the only player in the box”, “Mandron scored with what was our fourth shot on target. That's roughly equal to the team's output for the last month.”
French striker Mandron arrived at Crewe in 2020, having spent a year with Gillingham in League One. Was their main threat last season up front and looks to be the same this campaign.
“Mandron is a centre forward not a winger has he has proven several times”, “In fact I do worry about the fact that often Mandron is the only player in the box”, “Mandron was less noticeable as he was able to divert players away from the two other forwards.”
Currently with five goals to his name this season, Mandron will be looking to reach double figures as he aims to guide Crewe away from the bottom of the league.
Crewe Alexandra Fans on ITFC
“Considering we are playing a side who are the exact opposite of Gillingham, I fully expect Lowery to be at least in the squad if not the starting line-up”, “I see that Ipswich bloggers suggest this will be an easy game for Ipswich and predict 3-0”, “Another game against one of the ‘bigger’ teams. Which Alex will turn up this time?”
“Well, I think it is inevitable that League Two beckons for next season so what do we do to prepare?”, “Effectively seven points adrift of safety taking into account our goal difference, it seems really strange in October to be saying this, but I think we are done for”, “Watching the highlights think we are doomed with that defence and looked worse than a Sunday league team.”
The main forum for a Crewe Alexandra fan is the Platform 12 forum, a comprehensive and extensive area for all Crewe fans to dive into.
Photo: Matchday Images
Please report offensive, libellous or inappropriate posts by using the links provided.
You need to login in order to post your comments
Blogs 285 bloggers
The Swinging Sixty by ElephantintheRoom
Sixty years ago this year Town won the top division, so if you look upon your relationship with Ipswich Town as some sort of marriage this year marks the diamond jubilee of that remarkable achievement.
Five Reasons to Be Optimistic and Five Reasons to Remain Cautious by adamisablue2
Just after Conor Chaplin crashed home his penalty and Town's fourth against Gillingham on Saturday, I turned to my friends in the stand and uttered the [probably] famous last words of “the road to Wembley starts here boys!”
Big Club, Little Club by ElephantintheRoom
When I first started regularly going to Portman Road, Town had recently won the league as ‘upstart country cousins’.
Moans About Loans by ElephantintheRoom
Christmas came early for Town supporters with the surprising appointment of a manager who may actually have a future in the game.
Can Ipswich Town Still Make the Play-Offs? by Mac10
The big question that seems to be on the minds of most Town fans at New Year is if the play-offs, and by extension, promotion, are out of reach for Kieran McKenna’s team.
Ipswich Town Polls
[ Vote here ]