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Match Previews

PREVIEW | Crewe Alexandra vs Wrexham AFC

For us, the war is over, but Crewe must fight on.

19 April 2024

Match Previews

PREVIEW | Crewe Alexandra vs Wrexham AFC

For us, the war is over, but Crewe must fight on.

19 April 2024

Wrexham secured historic back-to-back promotions last weekend with two games to spare.

Tuesday's results meant that Stockport County sealed the Sky Bet League Two title, but a sense of duty and professionalism will be the motivation as we face a Crewe side embroiled in a battle to hold onto their play-off spot.


Last Saturday will go down as a great day in our long history, but there are still two more assignments before the players can enjoy their Summer. The atmosphere will be euphoric in the away end, but there's business to be done, and a derby against Crewe will always carry meaning.

One thing which is still at stake is the status of top scorer in League Two. Paul Mullin won that accolade in 2021 with Cambridge United, and is four goals behind the man who pipped him to the National League top scorer's crown last season.

imageg8vv9.pngIt's remarkable that Mullin should get so close to Langstaff, who enjoyed a flying start to the season, following the debilitating injury he suffered on tour which ruled him out of our first nine games of the season.

Naturally that injury had lasting effects, but he kept scoring through the pain and, since Phil Parkinson gave him a mini-break in February, he has been sensational.

Thirteen goals in eleven games have come at just the right time, and in each of his last two matches he scored twice. Match that again against Crewe and Stockport and the golden boot could be his.



It would be incredibly harsh if Crewe were to drop out of the play-offs at this late stage of the season. They have been in the top seven since mid-October, and had a three-game spell in the automatic promotion slots during that time.

However, they find themselves in danger of just such a fate as an end-of-season wobble has brought them within reach of the chasing pack.

Currently in fifth place, the four teams beneath them in the table could each overtake them, but a positive result in this match would, at worst, leave them in a strong position to reach the post-season.

The Gresty Road faithful will have one eye on the clash between Doncaster Rovers and Barrow, two of those pursuing sides, to see if the outcome helps them achieve their target.

Just one win in their last seven games has seen Crewe's grip on a play-off spot loosen: last Saturday's 3-0 loss at home to Grimsby Town was, astonishingly, the second consecutive 3-0 home defeat they've suffered against sides in the relegation battle, having gone down by the same scoreline to bottom side Forest Green a fortnight earlier. When you consider that they've taken six points from the last 30 at Gresty Road, you can see why they're concerned.

Manager Lee Bell told his club website that things must improve:

“We don’t want to fall [out of] the Play-Offs – we have to gain momentum. You don’t get these opportunities very often; it doesn’t come around every year. We have grasp it and if we don’t quite achieve what we want to achieve, you have to be on your knees because you have given everything.

“We have to show a lot more desire than we did (against Grimsby). We need a response.”

We are struggling at home with confidence and the fans showed their frustration, rightly so. But we have to stick together. I’ll shield the players the best I can, and then we need a response.

-Lee Bell, Crewe manager

“I’m really disappointed that my team got outran by our opponents at home. We have to make sure that doesn’t happen.

“We were dominated in every area of the pitch, in posession and without the ball. We had a better spell in the second half but it was too late then. I’ll have to look at the reasons why. I’m fed up of the injuries we are getting, but it was a good enough team to win a game of football.

“The boys are struggling a bit so we have to try to build them back up and get some confidence. I’ll be positive with the players and we will go through one or two things. For the first time this season I’ve highlighted body language to the players. It’s key. They have to carry themselves to the end of the game much better than they did.

“The players have been exceptional all season to get us into this position, but we have to concentrate on the here and now. We have had enough praise, me included, for what has gone on this season but to lose two home games on the bounce 3-0 is really tough for everybody. “Win, lose or draw, we reflect on what we have done as staff and whether we have set the team up right.”

While Bell was reluctant to use injuries as an excuse, Alex have suffered misfortune lately in that department.

Winger Shilow Tracey has started 35 league games this season, but was injured for the Grimsby game, adding to a list of 7 outfield injuries, while Lewis Leigh will serve the second of a four-game suspension on Saturday.

However, it's in goal that the real problems begin. All three first team keepers are out injured, so Bell had to act quickly to secure a replacement. Max Stryjek arrived on emergency loan from Wycombe Wanderers, and arrived in time to make his debut against Grimsby.

Stryjek told Crewe's media team: "I'm really happy to join. At Wycombe, I had a little wobble when I wasn't playing, and I asked the manager if I could go out and help someone get into the play-offs. It will be a good challenge and I'm happy to be here.

“I stopped playing for Wycombe when I got sent off against Stevenage.

“Before that, I was the Man of the Match in the [EFL Trophy] semi-final [against Bradford], so I didn't see the reason to stop playing. But I think it might have something to do with the contract situation - I'm out of contract in the summer and suddenly I just stopped playing.

"This opportunity came up so I thought, 'why not?'

"This is a good challenge and I thought it's better to play football than not play at all."

Tracey and striker Christopher Long are the only injured players in with a chance of starting on Saturday, with a number of those unavailable hoping to be available for the final game of the season at Colchester. They'll also hope they'll be required for 3 more games after that this season!



This is a truly ancient rivalry, stretching back to our first meeting in the FA Cup in October 1886. In fact, we were drawn together four times in that competition during the 1880s and 1890s, and Crewe knocked us out on each occasion.

By then we were also both in the Combination League, though, where we did rather better, winning six of our seven home games. Also, we finally got the better of them in the FA Cup, claiming our first win in Crewe with a 3-0 victory in October 1904. We’d lost our previous 4 clashes over the border.

That victory, with two goals from one of the great goalscorers from our pre-Football League era, Llew Griffiths, still stands as our biggest win at Gresty Road, although we’ve equalled it 3 times.

In September 1961, the two Mickeys, Metcalf and Evans, struck with an own goal rounding off the scoring, while in December 1992 an LDV Vans Trophy group match gave no clue of the one-sided scoreline which was to come until the 72nd minute, when Gary Bennett opened the scoring. He netted again 2 minutes later, and Steve Watkin wrapped up the scoring with 3 minutes left.

Bennett was clearly spurred on by the invective directed at him by the crows that night, and perhaps also by the memory of Wrexham’s visit to Gresty Road in the FA Cup 13 months earlier, when his late goal was the only positive to come from a horrible 6-1 thrashing. That’s not our worst loss against Crewe though: In October 1909 they thumped us 7-1 in the Combination League.

Six weeks after that 3-0 win Bennett scored at Gresty Road again in a 1-0 win which kept the momentum going in what would become a promotion season.

The most recent occasion we’ve come away from Crewe with a 3-0 win was this season, of course!

Admittedly, it was a slightly odd affair: a Bristol Street Motors Trophy group match which saw both sides field line-ups which differed from their usual elevens.

We were ruthless, and were two goals ahead by the 13th minute, through Jordan Tunnicliffe and Jordan Davies. Skipper Luke Young completed the scoring with a second-half penalty.

Apart from that win, we also met at The STōK Cae Ras this season, in our first clash since 2003, and first league meeting since 1997. It was a dramatic clash, as The Alex took the lead 3 times but Paul Mullin equalised twice and Steven Fletcher came off the bench to hit a 95th minute goal and salvage a point.


Doncaster Rovers v Barrow

Grimsby Town v Swindon Town

Harrogate Town v Milton Keynes Dons

Mansfield Town v Gillingham

Morecambe v Forest Green Rovers

Newport County v Salford City

Notts County v Colchester United

Stockport County v Accrington Stanley

Sutton United v Crawley Town

Tranmere Rovers v AFC Wimbledon

Walsall V Bradford City

With two games left, the crunch matches should come thick and fast, but a lot of the issues have already been decided. Stockport are confirmed as champions, and Mansfield joined us in completed the promotion spots on Tuesday. Milton Keynes are guaranteed a play-off place, and a win at Harrogate (or a point if we don't lose at Crewe) will assure them of the coveted 4th place.

Barrow's resilience will be tested as they fight to hang onto their play-off slot. They take their poor form to Doncaaster Rovers, who are hoping to mke a late charge into the top seven, having won their last eight games. 


image1b1xe.pngJames McClean's 525th league appearance.


Sam Dalby's 175th career match.


Andy Cannon's 50th league appearance for Wrexham.

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