Saturday sees a match between two clubs who were expected to challenge at opposite ends of the EFL League Two table. So far, this is exactly how things are panning out, but not in the way most people expected. Crewe Alexandra F.C. have been a mid-table League Two team for the past few seasons with little hope of reaching the play-offs and a slender fear of dropping into the relegation zone. However, Crewe have surprised many pundits by winning six of their opening nine games which leaves them in 2nd position.
Salford City F.C., on the other hand were predicted to make promotion look easy after their rapid rise through non-league with the backing of many former Manchester United F.C. players playing a big part in this. Alas, it isn’t as easy as some of their fans may have thought and after nine games, they sit in 16th. Could they climb the table with a win at high-flying Crewe this weekend?
Crewe Alexandra What To Watch
On the whole, Crewe have performed rather well at the back this season. This hasn’t been because of a mass overhaul of the defence as one of the key players in that area of the pitch is fullback Perry Ng. The 23-year-old has spent all his professional career so far under contract with the club and has remained as a regular in the team over the past two seasons. Consistency at the back is vital to all teams vying for promotion and if Ng keeps fit for the majority of the campaign, Crewe may have a chance this season.
Another first-team player who progressed through the ranks at Crewe is midfielder Tommy Lowery. After making his league debut at the age of 18, Lowery has struggled to keep his place in the side, Although, it looks like manager David Artell is willing to place his faith in Lowery more regularly this season and the young player will be keen to make this a year to remember.
Up front, the Railwaymen have the services of Chris Porter to rely on. The target man joined the club from Colchester United in 2017 in search of a new challenge. The striker has spent much of his career at lower league clubs, often not spending much time before moving on to another team. With Porter now in the twilight of his career, Crewe fans will be hoping he has one more big season in the tank to take them to the next level.
Salford City What To Watch
The temptation for any club when making the step up to a higher division is to build a whole new squad in a sense of panic as they start to worry about how hard the change is going to be, subsequently losing faith in the players that won the promotion in the first place. This hasn’t entirely been the case with Salford and one player they have kept in the core of the team is centre-back Carl Piergianni. He was one of the scorers in Salford’s play-off final victory over A.F.C. Fylde back in May and he will need many more standout performances in the league this season if the Ammies are to improve their fortunes.
Another player manager Graham Alexander has kept the faith with is midfielder Mark Shelton. Joining the club from Alfreton Town back in 2017, Shelton has helped the club up from the National League North to League Two. This season is the first experience the midfielder has had in the Football League and he proved that he still has a lot to offer just last weekend, scoring the winner against Grimsby Town F.C.. Like Piergianni, Shelton will have to provide match-winning performances more and more if he is to prove everyone he belongs at this level.
Too many draws have been the issue for Salford so far this season, with five already recorded. Therefore, this shows that their attackers need to take more games by the scruff of their neck and one player who should be particularly keen to do this is Emmanuel Dieseruvwe. The striker was the star of the show on the opening day of the season as he struck twice in a win over a poor Stevenage side, but since then he has struggled to add many more goals to his name, only scoring once more since his brace in the first game. Not all players find their feet as quickly as others in the Football League, but maybe Dieseruvwe can push his team to victory on Saturday.
Crewe Alexandra vs Salford City Prediction
Over the past few seasons, Crewe have been known to play nice football without gaining much reward. The early signs this season are that the tide has turned, and they are now ready to climb back up the English football pyramid. Salford may not be ready to challenge this season as they aim to consolidate themselves as a League Two club, but anyone can beat anyone on their day in the 4th tier and the Ammies could well build on their victory last week with another win at Gresty Road.
Prediction: Salford City - 2 Crewe Alexandra - 1