After gaining a replay against Premier League opposition in the FA Cup, County seem to have regained some momentum after their first league defeat at Meadow Lane this season. Crewe on the other hand are a mere 3 points shy of the relegation zone and have lost their last 3 games, conceding 8 goals in the process. So how do the teams size up for Saturday’s encounter, and how will the business done in the transfer window affect them?
Crewe Alexandra have signed Newcastle full back Jamie Sterry on loan until the end of the season, hoping to tighten their defence after some poor performances of late. They’ve also secured the return of Shaun Miller from Carlisle, who started his career with Crewe and has scored 6 goals this season for the Cumbrians.
The team has also gained midfielder Dan Barlaser and forward Harry McKirdy, the latter of whom scored on his debut for Crewe against Wycombe Wanderers. David Artell must be hoping these signings will give his team some momentum, as they have lost 4 in their last 5 and are dangerously close to the drop zone.
Despite their intermittent form, their defeats have been a one goal deficit and late on in the game, with their loss to Swindon Town being a turn in the match as the railwaymen went from 3-1 up to lose the game 4-3, and the winning goal for Wycombe in the previous game came in the 92nd minute. However, this is a team who are fighting for their place in the league and every point counts. Ahead of their trip to Meadow Lane, assistant manager Kenny Lunt has said that ‘we have already beaten them at home this season and we know what to expect, so we should go there with no fear and try to get the points’.
Notts County have also gained some younger players in the transfer window with the signing of Ben Hall and Mason Bennett, both 21, on deadline day. They also accrued Palace’s Noor Husin and Liverpool’s Matty Virtue, whilst confirming that Jorge Grant’s loan spell at County will continue until the end of the season. After the signings, Kevin Nolan stated that County are now ‘covered in every position’ and the youth of his signings has been a talking point as his first team includes veteran players such as Jon Stead and Shola Ameobi.
Talking of County’s recent dip in form, Nolan claimed that County ‘didn’t deserve to lose both of them’ and has discussed individual errors as well as his ongoing complaints about the competence and non-professional status of lower league referees. Looking forward to Saturday’s clash, he said that there was a real will to win but that the game will be tough, referring to County’s 2-0 defeat at Crewe in October as one of their worst performances. The FA Cup replay is looming on Tuesday, but Nolan affirmed that the team are fully focussed on this weekend’s game and the need to get back to winning ways.
On paper, 3rd placed County should enjoy a comfortable game against 4th from bottom Crewe. However, with a dip in both teams form and Crewe having already gained 3 points from County, a tough game will be on the cards. There is no doubt that County’s momentum from a positive performance against the Swans will help them on their way, but one must wait and see how the new signings impact the two teams and ultimately who needs the points more-a team looking for the joys of promotion or a team fighting against the threat of relegation.