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Match Previews

Match Preview - Bristol Rovers v Crewe Alexandra

30 April 2021

The pre-match guide to Saturday's encounter at the Mem.

Rovers face Crewe Alexandra in the final league home fixture of the 2020/21 campaign.

Crewe are poised midtable in Sky Bet League One and could break inside the top ten in the division with a positive conclusion to the season.

With Rovers' relegation confirmed last week at Fratton Park, planning is already well underway on next season, but the Rovers Manager reiterated in his weekly press conference that he wanted his side to recapture a winning mentality over the final two games of the season.

The Club will unite with English football for a social media boycott from 3pm on Friday (30th April) until 11.59pm on Monday (3rd May). We will be switching off all our social media accounts to highlight that social media companies must do more to eradicate online abuse.

All the pre-match stats and facts - alongside how to follow the action this weekend can be found below...

Manager's Preview

The Rovers boss spoke to the local media via Zoom on Friday morning. Planning for next season featured on the agenda, alongside the thinking heading into the final two games of the season.

On Saturday's game, Barton said, "We've got to win. Football's about winning.

"I'll take a scrappy 1-0, because that taste, that feeling of winning is what we're here for. And we've got away from that.

"And that's the most disappointing thing that we've gotten away from that when we needed it the most."

Catch the full interview below...

Feature

Manager's Preview - Joey Barton on Crewe

Media Talk

Crewe boss David Artell discussed his approach to the final two games of the campaign telling crewealex.net, "The objective is to finish as high as you can and we have two games left to try and get another six points. That is what we intend to do.

“I think people will be content with our first season back in League One but contentment is not a word I like. I think if you are content then you are happy with your lot and I am not. I want us to be better and to get better."

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Form Guide

Crewe are in the middle of the table pack heading into the final two games, nine points outside the play-off spots.

Although not able to break into the top six, there's still plenty to play for David Artell's side, who could shift into the top ten in the table with a strong finish to the season.

Crewe's recent form has been mixed, with three wins, four defeats and three draws across their last ten games. Recent wins against sides like MK Dons and Fleetwood Town, were followed by draws in their last two games against both Rochdale and Charlton.

In their last six wins, they have kept a clean sheet in the process. In fact, the last time they conceded a goal during a victory was during their win over the Gas back in January.

Stat Attack

Crewe have three wins on the spin against Rovers and are unbeaten in five outings against the Gas.

In 5 of the last seven games, Rovers have conceded the losing goal in the first half of matches, conceding first in 8 of their last nine games.

Rovers' average of 12.6 shots per home game ranks them 10th in the league for average shots per home league fixture. Accrington top the rankings, averaging 14.9 at home.

Bristol Rovers are one of eight teams in the division that haven't scored from an own-goal this term. On the reverse, Rovers have conceded twice from own-goals.

The Gas have scored 23 times at the Mem this term - scoring 12 goals in the first half and 11 in the second half.

If Luke McCormick plays more than 80 minutes on Saturday, he will surpass 3,000 minutes of league action for the season.

Away from home Crewe average 9.3 shots per game and have scored 23 times on their travels.

Playmaker Owen Dale has found the net 8 times for Crewe on the road this term.

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Referee Watch

Craig Hicks is the man in charge of Saturday's fixture. He's officiated 31 games this season, handing out 88 yellow cards and 4 red cards. Hicks was in charge of our 2-0 home defeat to Ipswich back in September. He was the referee in charge of our 2-0 EFL Trophy win over West Ham United U23's at BS7 back in September 2018. Hicks will be assisted by Hristo Karaivanov and Michael Chard, with Michael Begley taking up 4th official duties.

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Betting

EFL sponsors Sky Bet have Rovers priced at 13/8 to register 3 points on Saturday, with a 1-0 scoreline offered at 8/1. A repeat of January's score in the favour of the Gas can be backed at 25/1.

To bet with Sky Bet please click HERE.

How to Watch

Saturday's game will be available to watch live on iFollow.

Over 67,000 match passes have been sold for matches this season, ranking Rovers inside the top six in the division for iFollow passes sold across the campaign - a testament to our fantastic and unwavering support.

A live blog throughout Saturday's game will be available HERE.

Feature

iFollow Guide: Crewe Alexandra

Past Encounters

The encounter between the sides earlier this season entertained 5 goals in total, as Crewe came out 3-2 winners in a dramatic encounter at the Alexandra Stadium.

The home side went 2-0 up after Charlie Kirk and Ryan Whitle scored early goals for the home side, as Crewe held the advantage at the halfway stage.

The game was spun around within 6 minutes of the restart, as a close-range finish from Max Ehmer and a superb free-kick from Luke McCormick got the Gas back level at 2-2.

Just four minutes after McCormick's goal, the home side were back ahead, with Olly Lancashire's diving header providing the winning goal.

Feature

Match Action: Crewe Alexandra 3-2 Bristol Rovers

Around the Grounds

Promoted Hull host Wigan, with the Latics knowing that a win would guarantee their safety in the division, with a game to spare. Peterborough United could secure second spot in the standings with a positive result at home to Lincoln. At the bottom end of the table, Swindon entertain Ipswich, while Rochdale welcome Doncaster to the Crown Oil Arena.

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Match Reports

Match Report: Bristol Rovers 0-1 Crewe Alexandra

1 May 2021

Rovers lose to Crewe Alexandra by a single first-half goal...

Owen Dale proved to be a threat throughout the afternoon for the visiting side and was an integral part in the game's only goal, bullying Jack Baldwin off the ball towards the right flank. Ghosting inside the area, he picked the perfect pass across to Ainley who fired home.

Try as they might in both halves Rovers couldn't create a clear opening, restricted to half attempts in both 45's by the away side. Hanlan, Hare and Leahy would all force saves from Jaaskelainen but Crewe did well to keep the Gas at bay.

Joey Barton made four changes to the side that lost to Pompey last Saturday, with Joe Day coming in for Anssi Jaakkola in net. Elsewhere, the midfield pairing of Martinez and McCormick were replaced by Rodman and Hargreaves. Finally, Hare replaced Daly in a slight change in approach.

Rovers would be the first side to test either 'keeper, finding a sight of goal on the 5th minute through striker Brandon Hanlan. He picked up the ball from an acute angle on the right flank, striking low and hard on goal but it was ambitious from the angle. Jaaskelainen was forced into the stop, spilling in front of himself at the front post before pouncing on the ball.

Hanlan looked lively in the early stages, penned in towards the corner flag he whipped out a neat piece of skill to jink the ball past his man before rounding him with agility. He chipped a ball towards the back stick with Leahy lurking, but Crewe were alert, heading clear.

Rio Adebisi was the first to strike at the returning Joe Day, on the 15th minute following a corner for Crewe. A header half-cleared as far as 20-year-old, who attempted a looping volley from range. Day was aware of the danger though, backtracking well to collect.

Up the other end, Rovers continued to threaten, with Luke Leahy swinging a delightful cross in towards his fellow wing-back, Josh Hare. Arriving late and under pressure, Hare managed to get contact on the ball but turned his header wide of the goal.

Crewe would find the breakthrough though, Dale managed to outmuscle Jack Baldwin on the right-hand side, turning him well and motioning inside towards the area. Luke Leahy stuck out a last-ditch leg but saw a square pass beat him to find Callum Ainley. There, Ainley was left with the goal at his mercy, firing past Joe Day to put his side ahead.

Erhun Oztumer displayed lovely footwork to find space to spin a pass towards Brandon Hanlan. Still some way out from goal, Hanlan drove at the Crewe defence before squaring wide from the edge of the box to Josh Hare. The wing-back would fire following a touch, seeing his effort deflect sharply towards the roof of the net, forcing Jaaskelainen into a reflex save at his front post, needing to readjust well to tip the ball over following the deflection.

Antony Evans would fire a free-kick high and wide from 25 yards out on the 25th minute, sailing past Joe Day and into the Thatchers Terrace.

Evans would again be involved moments later, picking up a cross at the back stick before recycling with a beautiful chipped pass with the outside of his foot. Pickering rose highest to head goalwards but skewed his attempt over the crossbar.

A free-kick from Erhun Oztumer picked out the run of Jack Baldwin just before the 30-minute mark, but Baldwin's scooping header lacked power, with Jaaskelainen collecting comfortably.

Rovers looked to bully their way back into the game with Crewe just starting to turn the screw slightly since their opener, but the Gas hadn't worked a clear-cut chance yet in the match.

Owen Dale would threaten again down the right, standing up Luke Leahy before darting to his left towards the apex of the area. He swung his foot round the ball, curving a delightful effort towards the back stick. Joe Day stood static to the strike, witnessing it pass narrowly wide of his right goalpost.

Rovers continued to lack the execution in the final third, with Rodman next to see a chance missed. Picking the ball up in a promising position on the edge of the box, the right-winger struck on his weaker left foot, watching his effort sail clear of the bar before turning away in frustration. 

The Gas definitely had chances, albeit half attempts here and half attempts there, but couldn't yet dig out a clear cut opening to bring this game level before the half-time break, with Luke Leahy seeing a late curling effort tipped wide.

He'd then try an over-head kick even later in stoppage time, but saw it fly clear of the crossbar as the ref' blew the whistle for the break.

Josh Hare would again strike on goal, five minutes after the resumption of play in the second half. Through a surging counter-attack, the ball was switched to Hare who marauded forward, given the option to try and slip Hanlan in towards the byline, Hare instead opted to force Jaaskelainen into action. Hitting a dipping strike the 'keeper had to dive to his left and tip the ball wide, with the ball bouncing in front of him meaning he had to readjust quickly get solid contact on it.

Josh Hare was replaced by Ben Liddle shortly afterwards. James Daly would also come on for Erhun Oztumer.

Dale would throw stepovers at the Rovers defence from the byline as he burst with pace deep into the Gas' half. Working a small bit of space for a cutback while under pressure, he rolled a pass back just inside the area towards the penalty spot. However, he looked up to see his teammates were absent, with Westbrooke able to clear for Rovers.

Worryingly, Brandon Hanlan would go down with around 10 minutes to play and was withdrawn, with Zain Walker replacing him.

The Gas' attacking intent wavered as the half went on, struggling to carve out any opportunities for themselves in the late stages.

Anthony Evans provided a superb run for Crewe late on, stepping past one, then two, then three to set himself up with a one on one against Joe Day. Rushing out and standing tall, Day spread himself well, getting a claw to the ball and palming it wide.

Liddle would catch a cross sweetly with a volley from the edge of the box in added time. However, the former Middlesborough midfielder saw his effort fly clear of the crossbar, meaning the game ended in defeat for the Gas.

Rovers head to Blackpool for the final day of the season on Sunday 9th May.

Rovers: Joe Day, Luke Leahy ©, Zain Westbrooke (David Tutonda '85), Brandon Hanlan (Zain Walker '80), Alfie Kilgour, Cam Hargreaves, Josh Hare (Ben Liddle '57), Jack Baldwin, Alex Rodman, Erhun Oztumer (James Daly '57), George Williams.

Subs: Jed Ward, Mark Little, David Tutonda, James Daly, Zain Walker, Ben Liddle, Josh Barrett.

Crewe Alexandra: Will Jasskelainen, Harry Pickering (c), Ryan Wintle, Donervon Daniels (Omar Beckles '75), Charlie Kirk, Callum Ainley, Mikael Mandron (Chris Porter '87), Oliver Lancashire, Owen Dale, Rio Adebisi, Antony Evans.

Subs: Dave Richards, Chris Porter, Travis Johnson, Joe Robbins, Omar Beckles, Stephen Walker, Zak Williams.

 

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