Coventry City will be hoping to make a positive start to 2016 when they travel to Crewe Alexandra on Saturday. The new year certainly has the makings of a good one for the football club, and three points from this fixture would be welcome as a tough January looms. The Railwaymen will also be desperate to claim victory as they target survival come the end of the season.
With another impressive away following getting behind The Sky Blues, it could feel more like a home fixture for Tony Mowbray’s side. Despite the manager’s absence from the touchline after receiving a one-match ban due to his antics at Chesterfield, the players will be confident in facing a side flirting with relegation.
Crewe Alexandra are struggling in League One yet again after narrowly avoiding the drop last season. As expected, they are currently cemented in 23rd place with 20 points, 4 away from safety. The main reason for their struggles is due to a lack of goals, with only 23 being scored from as many games. Only Blackpool have found the net on fewer occasions with a meagre 21.
In their last five fixtures, Steve Davis’ side have managed to pick up 2 wins, 1 draw and 2 losses. The 7 points claimed from that sequence of results has enabled them to clamber off of bottom spot, but they are still looking certainties for relegation to League Two. Home form has been a real issue and supporters have only witnessed 2 victories at Gresty Road, and this fact will give Coventry increased hope.
The Sky Blues have gone off the boil over the past five outings as they’ve only managed to claim 1 win, 3 draws and 1 loss. This dip in form came after an unbeaten run stretching 11 games, but Mowbray is confident that his team can begin to turn draws into wins. Goals have dried up recently too, although they still remain one of the highest scoring teams in the division after breaching the opposition defence on 41 occasions.
Despite not reaching the heights of their early season performances, the midlands outfit sit comfortably in 4th place. They are currently only 4 points short of top spot, and with games against high flying Walsall and Burton Albion coming up, the target must be to haul themselves into the promotion places.
The Railwaymen will be without club captain Harry Davis once more as the defender recovers from an operation. He limped off during Crewe’s 1-1 draw with Walsall back in September, and after finding floating bone around the knee he was ruled out for at least two months.
Joining Davis on the treatment table is Lauri Dalla Valle who is nursing a foot problem. The forward picked up the knock whilst playing for the under 21’s and he isn’t expected back for at least a few weeks. Other than those two, a full squad is available to the home side as they look to avenge their recent defeat versus Shrewsbury.
Coventry City are anxiously waiting to see whether Aaron Martin is fit enough to return in defence. He missed Monday’s game against Chesterfield due to an ankle injury picked up during the Boxing Day clash with Port Vale. If the centre-back misses out, the defence is set to remain as it was last time out with Chris Stokes occupying a central position and Ryan Haynes on the left.
Reda Johnson, Jordan Willis, Conor Thomas, Ivor Lawton and Martin Lorentzson all remain out too. Other than those mentioned, Mowbray has a strong squad to select from for the trip to Gresty Road. He could be tempted to stick with the eleven that earned a point at the Proact Stadium, although Adam Armstrong is likely to start up front.
Three To Watch:
The 21-year old striker is another product from the renowned Crewe Alexandra academy. After progressing through the system from an early age, he was handed a youth scholarship in 2011 before being promoted to the first team during the following year.
Since making the step up, he has graced the field on 64 occasions wearing the red strip. After an unsuccessful trial at Wolverhampton Wanderers this summer, the youngster committed his future to The Railwaymen by penning a fresh two-year contract to tie him down until 2017.
He continues to catch the eye and he’s certainly a stand out player in a struggling side. With 26 appearances already to his name this term, he’ll be looking to continue his fine form in 2016. After scoring last time out, he’ll be in confident mood when Coventry come to town.
The midfielder is another youngster that has developed into a first team product via the youth setup at Crewe. Despite his inexperience, the 19-year old has impressed Steve Davis this season, along with the supporters who see him as a future star.
After making his debut in a 1-1 draw away to Crawley Town in November 2014, Jones hasn’t looked back. He went on to make 26 appearances in the second half of last season, and he’s now providing a great option for Davis to utilise. Despite only making 11 outings this term, his recent form is promising.
With superb technical ability, he has the potential to command the midfield area and run games. Although he still has a long way to go in terms of developing physically, he uses his slim frame well to slip past his markers. Coventry’s defence will have to pay close attention to him at the weekend.
Ryan Lowe is a well known figure within the football league, and the forward is still plying his trade in the third tier with The Railwaymen. The 37-year old has enjoyed a long and fruitful career, playing for a handful of clubs including Sheffield Wednesday, Milton Keynes Dons and Tranmere.
The striker is still contracted to Bury, but after The Shakers signed Leon Clarke and Tom Pope in the summer, Lowe fell out of favour. Subsequently, he was enjoying limited game time so he made the temporary to Gresty Road by signing a loan deal in November 2015.
He has featured 6 times so far for Crewe during his short time at the club, but he’s a constant threat in the attacking areas. Scoring 2 goals already, the journeyman will be in high spirits and he’ll be looking to fire his side to victory. He has a knack of finding the net versus Coventry, but they’ll be alert to his threat.
From The Home Camp – James Maddison:
“We have got four out of a possible six points so far in the festive period so it would be nice to make it seven from three.”
“Crewe is always a tough place to go, quite a big pitch but we always take a good travelling crowd and hopefully the fans will turn out in numbers again and get behind the team.”
“The talent we have got in the squad we are all confident we can go anywhere in this league and get three points. There’s no team in this league that we’re scared of so hopefully we can get a lot of fans down there and get a good result for them.”
View From The Opposition – Ryan Colclough:
“We need to sort it out, especially at home, because the fans are paying to come and watch us and we have got to do more.”
“We have all stick together and as a team look ahead. We cannot change what happened against Shrewsbury or what has happened in other games this season. All we can do is look forward to the next game and that is Coventry.”
“We know that they are up there and are a good team but we still believe that if we play to our potential then we can get a result. We have done it before and if we can put on some good performances then there is no reason why we cannot pick up results and move out of it.”
“There are still a lot of points to play for and we have played well in the last few games without quite as many points as we probably deserved. We have created more chances and looked like winning games but we need to be more clinical and then see out games a lot better.”
“We will dust ourselves off and there’s no greater way of bouncing back from disappointment than playing a side that is right up there and getting a positive result.”
With 2015 behind us, it’s time for a new year and the second half of the 2015/16 season. What a great start it has been to the current campaign, but we’ve got to start picking up points more frequently again if we want to sustain our position in the upper reaches of League One.
We all know that Crewe are a team that we should be beating, but as we’ve found recently, the struggling sides can be the most difficult to overcome. Steve Davis will know that his side will have to be at their best to get any form of result from the fixture, and you’d envision them settling for a point. It’s our job to break them down. They have a tendency to concede late goals so persistence should reap rewards.
Frankly, luck hasn’t been on our side of late. Some horrendous refereeing displays certainly haven’t helped our cause, but we haven’t been particularly good enough either. Chances are coming at a lesser rate and goals subsequently are too. We have to find our rhythm once more and put teams to the sword.
Crewe’s defence have shipped 39 goals this season, and whilst this isn’t the poorest record, it should give our forwards extra incentive. I suspect that Adam Armstrong will be chomping at the bit after being dropped to the bench on Monday. He has to end his goal drought sooner or later, why can’t it be on Saturday? With the added pace of Jacob Murphy and Ryan Kent alongside the magical attributes possessed by James Maddison, we should score goals.
The sole factor that our attack has the ability to be ridiculously threatening when things all fall in place, I haven’t been able to predict a loss for us this season. With this in mind, I’m going for victory again. If we utilise the width of the pitch and play expansive, creative football, we should travel back home in buoyant mood.
My Score Prediction:
Crewe Alexandra 1-3 Coventry City