By Jon Harries
It is probably way too early to drop the “six pointer” cliché into the conversation, but this is a big game for both teams. Crewe, without a win this season and unable to find the back of the net, can count themselves unlucky in both League 1 games so far, whereas the Dons could be on an extra two points if they were more ruthless against Doncaster, and three points here for either side should kick start their respective seasons. Crewe started their League 1 campaign with a 2-0 loss at home to Charlton Athletic. Alfie Doughty and Connor Washington with goals, followed up by a narrow 1-0 loss to Hull City, Malik Wills with the winner. Crewe can though count themselves unlucky as they outplayed the Yorkshire outfit for most of the game.
The Dons got a late point away at Doncaster, Baily Cargill with the goal in a game in which we dominated followed by a below par first half performance and ultimately defeat against Lincoln. A very dubious penalty scored by Jorge Grant gave the Imps a halftime lead, Joe Mason equalised with a well taken finish following sustained pressure from the hosts, and then all that good work was undone when Harry Anderson crossed, and Tom Hopper applied the bullet header with Nicholls stranded in no-man’s land.
Looking ahead to the visit to Gresty Road, the Crewe squad has mainly been kept together following their promotion from League 2 on PPG last season.
Finland youth International 22-year-old Goalkeeper Will Jaaskelainen (son of former Bolton and West Ham keeper Jussi) is a particularly good goalkeeper at this level, and is destined to follow in his Dad’s footsteps after his breakout season last year following several loans out to teams in the lower divisions. Starting his career in the Bolton Academy he has now made the Number 1 jersey his own and is on many a watch list for scouts from both the Championship and the Premiership.
The famed Crewe youth academy has churned out yet more talented players and has now become basically the spine of their team. Right wing back Perry Ng could and probably should be playing at a higher level as should talented defender Harry Pickering. Ryan Wintle is their midfield general and winger Charlie Kirk is a player I highly admire and destined like others in the Crewe squad for bigger things.
Former Don Daniel Powell on his day can be destructive, but so far has not featured for the Railwaymen with a pre-season injury keeping him side-lined and in new recruits Offrande Zanzala and Mikael Mandron from Crawley Town and Gillingham respectively they have strength and skill that can trouble any defence.
My player to watch is midfield maestro Charlie Kirk. Predominantly playing on the left of a diamond he has a free role in the squad. Capable of a moment of magic be it beating a right back on the inside or out, a 30-yard screamer, or a defence splitting pass, he has it all.
In January 2019 he terrorised both George Williams and Callum Brittain at Stadium MK latching onto a through ball to calmly slot past Lee Nicholls and ultimately win the game for The Alex. He was unplayable that day and to succeed on Saturday Regan Poole and Warren O ‘Hora are going to have to be on their guard especially with the interchanging of the unpredictable Kirk to mix things up.
Team News – Agard is still several weeks away as he continues to keep Simon Crampton company in the Physio Room. Fraser is likely to be in some sort of contention and will probably feature in a bigger role coming off the bench rather than the ten-minute cameo against Lincoln City. I expect to see Sorensen return at the expense of Brittain who was largely anonymous for the whole 90 minutes against Lincoln, and I can only assume the Dane wasn’t 100% fit as the game was crying out for his silky skills. It’s still probably a week or so too early for Keogh, but his Dons debut is starting to look a reality in October, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him on the bench against Ipswich Town or even on Saturday.
Even though Mason scored last week, that wouldn’t be enough for me to keep him in the starting X1, he was largely ineffective for large periods of the game as was Morris, but the big man I feel will keep his place and be partnered by Sam Nombe to give a more attacking feel to the team.
Louis Thompson is still very doubtful and is not yet in full training and only just starting some light training and running.
O Hora – Cargill – Lewington
Poole – Kasumu – Houghton – Harvie
Morris – Nombe
Summary & Prediction
This game may play into our hands. Crewe will be desperate to pick up points therefore I expect a high press from the home side. Both Houghton and Sorensen could be key in controlling possession and exposing the space left behind for Nombe to exploit. It won’t be a walkover; Crewe are an exceptionally talented side and should not be underestimated.
Saying that, I’m going to stick my neck out and say a 2-0 away win. Nombe and Sorenson with the goals and a newfound belief going into an extremely challenging October.
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