An up and down season comes to a close at the Bank this Saturday, writes Tom Morton.
You’d probably always want to be facing relegated bottom-of-the-table on the final day. But our record of last games is pretty poor, and with our mixed performances it does make for risky viewing – losing miserably to one of the poorest (and they are poor) sides in the division would be a bitter pill for the summer.
The Railwaymen’s season has been fairly grim as you can see in the stats; bottom of the table they also have the worst away performance in the league – winning just two and losing seventeen from twenty-two. It only gets worse. Away from home, Crewe have zero clean sheets (we at least have a couple!), failed to score in 50% of games and are under-scoring and over-conceding against their xG stats. If you look at results, the second half of their season has been dire. Since Jan 1st they’ve lost seventeen out of twenty-two games and won just three. It’s just been a run of red all the way and you can almost see the moment the manager lost the changing room and Crewe accepted defeat.
It is worth saying that Crewe parted way with manager David Artell a few weeks ago, once relegation was confirmed. Arguably a little too late looking at the stats. Given that they have nothing to lose, and as is usually the way, caretaker manager Alex Morris (who was yesterday confirmed on a permanent contract), has eked out a few better performances. That’s something to watch; Morris will surely be keen to end a dire season with an away win.
For once the stats ought to say “easy win for the imps”, but actually we may end up being the architects of our own destruction. To win against a terrible team you have both turn up and score. Which of course has been our trouble all season. You simply do not know which Lincoln will come out of the tunnel on Saturday. A team fired up with creativity and aggression, or a wet blanket ready to roll over to a poor team. It’s slightly depressing that the stats sites say ominous things like “Medium chance of Lincoln to score” (yes, against a club without a single away clean sheet this season) or that we have around a 60/40 chance in favour of taking the game.
Crewe’s style of play is not unlike ours. They like the play down the wing and loft crosses into the box. Where we often go for low & pacey crosses their style is to aim for the head with looping balls. Quite often they get bogged down in the corner of the pitch and so our defence pressing them out and making them play there will kill off the threat.
At the back they are clearly very weak against counter-attack so a fast pace of play will suit us. Looking at past clips, they have a problem tracking back and tend to lose players coming forward, opening space for quick shots. We need to find that one-touch shooting that has eluded us a bit this season to take the most advantage.
That said, it’s an end of season dead duck. So will Crewe come out to win it with nothing to lose? Will our players already be on the beach? Or will the Railwaymen be thinking of their contracts and potentially eyeing a move to club staying in the league.
One player rumoured to be on his way out is Tom Lowery. He’s had a shaky season contract-wise and only made an appearance for Crewe in August. Lowery is decent League One midfielder. Probably not the man we need next season but someone who can hold the ball and release wide players. He has a decent crossfield ball and can be a real threat on the edge of the box – his equaliser against Ipswich last weekend was a real rocket.
Their top scorer is Chris Long, with nine goals for the season. He could be a potential target having joined Crewe on a two year deal last year. Long has good pedigree, coming up through Everton’s academy and has championship, plenty of league one and England youth experience. Watch out for his wide runs and decent pace off the ball.
Thanks & see you next season!
Well, folks, it has been a pleasure. Thank you to Gary for creating this role and then offering it to me. It has been a blast and I hope you’ve enjoyed getting an additional perspective and a bit of insight into the opposition each week. I’d like to think I’ve been right about how our opposition will turn up more often than not – I definitely make a point of reminding my dad when I see the other team playing the tactics I predicted (and I’ve had my head in my hands over the mistakes I’ve feared too).
Enjoy the summer break and Scout File will be back in 2022/23!