By Gerry Prewett.
Bristol Rovers and Crewe Alexandra have met 23 games, Alex has won 10 and Rovers just 4 with 9 draws. For teams which have spent much of their time in the lower region of the league is perhaps surprising that they have met so infrequently. The fact that Crewe are a ‘Northern’ team and Rovers a ‘Southern’ team explains why the first clash did not take place until 1963.
The Railwaymen won both games that season (1963-64), 2-1 at Eastville and 4-1 at Gresty Road. The following season Rovers faired even worse in Cheshire coming back on the end of a 6-1 thrashing, however they did win the home game 1-0.
Since then, prior to a New Year’s Eve 2011 thrashing at the Mem, games had been tight; on only two occasions, had there been more than two goals between the teams. Since that 6-1 thrashing on 31 August 1968, no team had scored more than 2 goals in this fixture, the previous four games had all ended in draws, three 1-1 and the other 0-0.
In that New Year’s Eve game, Paul Buckle’s last game in charge, it took Crewe just 68 seconds to take the lead, when AJ Leitch-Smith put the ball past Scott Bevan. Matt Harrold grabbed an equaliser for The Gas, but an own goal by Cian Bolger and goals from Nick Powell and David Artell gave the Railwaymen a 4–1 lead at the break.
After making a triple substitution at half time, Rovers reduced their deficit to two goals when Scott McGleish scored two and a half minutes into the second half, but Crewe sealed their victory with an injury time strike from Nick Powell.
On 17 May 1995 Rovers won a Play Off fixture with a 1-1 draw after draw in the first game 0-0 at Twerton.
Rovers last victory at Gresty Road was on 9 March 1996 when they won 2-1.