Off the back of their first win in five games against Swindon, Crewe travel to league leaders Lincoln in what will certainly be their most challenging fixture so far.
After the 2-1 loss to County last weekend, Crewe managed to bounce back by beating Swindon 1-0 at Gresty Road. It was a challenging game for the club as it saw them take the lead 30 minutes in through Charlie Kirk. However, a proper workman like performance saw the Railwaymen hold onto their 1-0 lead to earn their third win of the season.
Many fans were questioning Artell’s starting XI before the game, as often Porter and Bowery playing in the same side never goes to plan. This along with the dropping of Tommy Lowery and Perry Ng left fans less than optimistic about getting a result. However, full credit goes to Artell and the lads who managed to grind out a 1-0 win against a good Swindon side who find themselves in promotion contention.
It was a much needed win for the Railwaymen as they restored their excellent home record. Crewe have still only conceded one goal at home in five games this season, winning three, losing one and drawing one.
However, the Alex are still useless on the road. They are yet to pick up a win on the road this season and only hold one draw to their name away from home. Crewe did however manage to score their first goal away from home during the 2-1 loss away at meadow lane. This is a step in the right direction for the Railwaymen, however one goal and one draw isn’t good enough for the travelling Alex, but it’s going to be extremely hard for them to turn it around against league leaders Lincoln.
The Imps have won their last four of these last five league games, and rightly find themselves sitting at the top of the league two table, two points ahead of second place Exeter.
Probably the highlight of this good run of form would be the 2-1 victory over fellow promotion contenders Mk Dons. This game saw Lincoln come from 1-0 behind to grab a 94th minute winner against the Dons, really cementing the club as the League Two title favourites.
However, last time out Lincoln felt defeat against Tranmere in what was only their second defeat of the season. Tranmere ran out surprising 1-0 winners against the Imps at home.
The Imps have had arguably the best past two years of any football club. Lincoln achieved promotion from the Conference in the 2016/17 season, as well as this Lincoln became the first non league side since 1914 to reach the quarter final of the FA Cup after they beat Premier League Burnley 1-0.
Last season, Lincoln’s first season back in the Football League they reached the play-offs as they finished 7th. Combined with this Lincoln made their second trip to Wembley in two years as they beat Shrewsbury 1-0 in the EFL Trophy final.
Last season both games finished 4-1 to the away side, with Lincoln running out 4-1 winners at Gresty Road and the Railwaymen running out shock 4-1 winners at Sincil Bank.
Crewe’s win at Lincoln kick-started their season, coming back from 1-0 down against promotion contenders Lincoln to win 4-1 gave the Alex the confidence to pull themselves away from a relegation battle and establish themselves in mid table.
Despite the Alex’s successes at Sincil Bank last season, Lincoln are clearly a much stronger team again this season, so if Crewe want to repeat their surprise victory they’re really going to have to earn it.
Predicted XI (4-3-3):
Goalkeeper- Ben Garratt
Kept Crewe in the game against County on Saturday and made a number of good saves against Swindon to help them grind out a 1-0 victory, based upon recent performances he basically picks himself.
Defence- Perry Ng, Nicky Hunt, George Ray, Kevin O’Connor
Nicky Hunt and George Ray put in a solid performance in the central of defence against Swindon. However, Perry Ng has still being one of Crewe’s most consistent performers this season, so in my opinion should come back for this challenging game away at Lincoln in place of Corey Whelan as long as he is fit. With Harry Pickering returning to U23 action this week, hopefully he should be available for first team selection soon. However, until then Kevin O’Connor will continue to do a reliable job at left back.
Midfield- James Jones, Ryan Wintle, Callum Ainley
Even though many have called for Jones to be dropped I can’t imagine he will be. Especially for a game like Lincoln away Jones is one of Crewe’s more experienced midfielders, and even though it’s harsh on talented young players like Lowery who put in an excellent shift against County. I can’t see Artell dropping Jones for this game. Wintle has been consistent for the Alex this season, and Ainley has always looked bright when on the ball so I imagine this will be Crewe’s midfield three.
Forwards- Shaun Miller, Jordan Bowery, Charlie Kirk
Miller and Bowery were key in Crewe’s win over Lincoln last season, so it only makes sense for that partnership to make another appearance. Charlie Kirk scored the winning goal against Swindon midweek and is one of Crewe’s joint top scorers this season alongside Bowery with three goals, so if anyone is likely to find the net on Saturday it’s those two.
Prediction: Lincoln 2-1 Crewe
Despite Crewe’s successes away at Lincoln last season, I can’t see them finding a way to get a result on Saturday. Lincoln have won all four of their last 5 games, that combined with the fact that Crewe are yet to win on the road makes it look likely that Lincoln are going to return to winning ways this Saturday.
Picture Credit: Crewe Alexandra