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PREVIEW | CREWE ALEXANDRA

A look at Saturday's opponents from Cheshire

9 February 2023

THE OPPOSITION

FACTFILE

Founded: 1877

Stadium: The Mornflake Stadium

Nicknames: The Railwaymen, The Alex.

League position: 18th

League top scorer: Courtney Baker-Richardson (7)

Goals scored/conceded: 21/34

Lee Bell - Manager

Lee Bell came through the renowned Crewe Alexandra academy to play in the Championship under Dario Gradi. Bell progressed in the same group as Dean Ashton, Ben Rix, Michael Higdon and David Vaughan and went on to make 62 first-team appearances during his first stint with the club. Bell helped the club win promotion back to the Championship in his first season, scoring the club’s goal of the season against Colchester United in August 2002. 

Lee made 22 appearances as we won automatic promotion when finishing runners-up to Wigan Athletic. Bell later enjoyed loan spells at Shrewsbury and Burton Albion before joining Mansfield Town in 2007 on a permanent basis. He joined Macclesfield in 2008 and spent two seasons at the Moss Rose before re-signing for Crewe in the summer of 2010. During his second spell with the club, Bell scored two goals in 86 appearances and once again helped the club to a promotion in 2012. 

He made 36 appearances during our promotion winning season and his final appearance was a late introduction as a substitute in our play-off win over Cheltenham at Wembley. That summer, he moved on Burton Albion and was a big part of their promotion push in 2014, but on this occasion, he was on the losing side in the Play-Off Final as the Brewers lost 1-0 to Fleetwood Town. After a brief loan spell at Macclesfield, he returned to the Moss Rose to see out his remaining playing days, while also coaching a young age group at the Crewe Academy. His rise as a coach now sees Lee as the Club's first-team manager.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Dave Richards

Heading into his eighth season with the Railwaymen, the shot-stopper has been a loyal servant to the club, with his breakout season coming in the 2021/22 campaign. Having signed a new deal in May 2022, Richards performed exceptionally throughout pre-season, however, a finger injury a few days prior to the season opener at Rochdale saw the Welshman be sidelined for our opening fixtures. The six-foot-two 'keeper from Abergavenny will play a pivotal role in Crewe’s second half of the season after Arsenal goalkeeper Arthur Okonkwo was recalled in January.

Elliot Nevitt

Nevitt spent five years in non-league football, before which he attended college. He played non-league football for Everton Xaverians, Burscough, City of Liverpool (two spells), AFC Liverpool, Bootle and Waterloo Dock. He joined Warrington Rylands 1906 in October 2020 from the City of Liverpool and scored a hat-trick for the club in the 2021 FA Vase Final at Wembley Stadium. Nevitt turned professional by signing a one-year contract with League Two Tranmere Rovers in July 2021. He made his professional debut on 10 August, scoring the second goal in a 2–2 draw with Oldham Athletic in the first round of the EFL Cup. In November, he signed a contract extension with Tranmere until 2023, but signed for Crewe in the January transfer window.

Ryan Finnigan

Midfielder Ryan Finnigan has joined Crewe Alexandra on loan until the end of the season. The 19-year-old Southampton player has put pen-to-paper on a deal which will keep him at Mornflake Stadium for the remainder of 2022-23. Finnigan, who joined the Saints academy at the age of 12, has made one first-team appearance for the club, coming off the bench in a 2-0 FA Cup victory over Shrewsbury Town.

He has enjoyed a number of outings for Southampton Under-21s in the Papa John’s Trophy, and has been named as substitute in Premier League fixtures on several occasions. Ryan has started all three of Crewe Alexandra’s games since he arrived at the Mornflake Stadium. He will be looking to cause the Reds' defence issues on Saturday.

HEAD TO HEAD

This will be the 18th league meeting between Crawley and Crewe. We have beaten them three times within the 17 matches. Before our defeat at Mornflake Stadium earlier this season, our most recent clash against Crewe was when the Reds ran out 3-0 winners in December of 2018. Joe McNerney, Dannie Bulman and Josh Payne were all on target in that game.

The first meeting between the sides was in 2011, when Matt Tubbs cancelled out Wes Fletcher's first half strike. Shaun Miller, who would later sign for Crawley, was sent off inside 15 minutes. Our first win over Crewe came in our fourth meeting, when Jamie Proctor's brace sealed a 2-0 home win. 

Since then, we went four matches without a win against the Railwaymen, until December 2016 when we recorded our first win on Gresty Road. James Collins scored both the goals for the Reds to secure the win. 

A trip to the Alex in 2020 saw some last-minute drama when Nathan Ferguson looked to have found our equaliser in the 84th minute from the spot before the home side grabbed a heartbreaking 90th minute winner through Chris Porter, as the game finished 2-1 to the side that were promoted later that season under David Artell.

Earlier this season, Crawley lost out 1-0 away to Crewe after Courtney Baker-Richardson struck in the 73rd minute. Crawley had chances and a majority of possession yet failed to capitalise and ended the game goalless.

HOW THEY BET*

Crawley: 6/5

Draw: 11/5

Crewe Alexandra: 11/5

*Odds correct at time of writing from league betting partners Sky Bet. Please gamble responsibly.

COVERAGE

If you can’t make the game at Broadfield Stadium, the match will be available to listen to with an audio pass for UK supporters on our iFollow service from 2:55pm with live commentary from BBC Sussex & Surrey Sport's Gary Smith and summariser Tony Vessey.

The game is available to watch live for £10 for non-UK supporters with an iFollow match pass.

There will also be coverage across our social media channels throughout the game. @crawleytown on Twitter, Crawley Town FC on Facebook and officialcrawleytownfc on Instagram followed by a post-match report and reaction from Scott Lindsey and a player.


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