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Match Previews

MATCH PREVIEW: WIGAN ATHLETIC V CREWE ALEXANDRA

27 August 2015

Latics looking to build on home unbeaten run in League One.

  • Winless Crewe visit the DW Stadium on the back of 3-3 draw with Bury last weekend.
  • The Alex have conceded 11 goals in their last four games, Latics are yet to concede at home in the league.
  • Family Fun Zone prior to kick-off at the DW.
Wigan Athletic will look get back to winning ways when early season strugglers Crewe Alexandra visit the DW Stadium on Saturday.

After losing 2-0 at high-flying Gillingham on Saturday, Gary Caldwell’s side had lost some of the momentum they had begun to build after a 0-0 draw with Doncaster Rovers and 3-0 win over Scunthorpe United.

The Alex are looking for a win to kick-start their season after they’ve gone without a success in their opening five league and cup matches.

Tickets are available for the clash with Steve Davis’ side priced at £20 for adults and from £2 for concessions.

Fans are encouraged to come down to the DW Stadium from 1pm onwards for a family fun zone event that will include table tennis, tennis and basketball, along with a climbing wall, jugglers, face painters and a performance from local band The Articles outside the ground.

An outside bar will be serving alcoholic, soft and hot drinks, with food also available to buy on the day.

The event is completely free of charge and limited to 500 people, so simply arrive on the day to enjoy all of the activities on offer.

INTRODUCING CREWE ALEXANDRA

Promoted to the Championship alongside Latics in 2003, Crewe Alexandra have had contrasting fortunes to quite a large extent in the past 12 years, but now we find ourselves back in the same division for what will be the 21st league meeting between the two sides.

That campaign saw Dario Gradi’s side finish second on 86 points, still a mammoth 14 behind Latics who reached 100 in a fine campaign. One similarity for the Alex now 12 years on is the number of players from their fine academy helping their cause. Back then it was Kenny Lunt, Steve Foster, Rob Hulse, David Vaughan and Dean Ashton who won promotion and spent the majority of their careers with the Alex and elsewhere in the top two divisions.


It’s to be admired the way Crewe have continued with their philosophy in a time of burning desire to hit the Premier League and the big TV revenue and when lower league clubs are struggling to compete with their high-flying neighbours and thus attendances are dwindling. Dario Gradi, though, wouldn’t have it any other way as all his hard work in darker days continues to pay off with a number of players playing in the Premier League after learning their trade under him.

Ashley Westwood (Aston Villa), Nick Powell (Manchester United) and Billy Jones (Sunderland) are all plying their trade in the big league whilst Nicky Maynard, Luke Varney, Max Clayton and Luke Murphy were all playing in the Championship last season.

Whilst Latics won promotion to the Premier League in 2005, the Alex were securing their second tier status with a 2-1 victory over Coventry City after a terrible second half of the season, following the sale of Dean Ashton in January, took Gradi’s side from sixth to 21st. That set a pattern for the Alex of losing their key players at regular intervals.

Relegation followed for the Alex a season later as Latics enjoyed their first year in the Premier League and before they knew it, Gradi’s side were plummeting as Jones, Varney and Vaughan were sold after one season in the third tier. Steve Holland, now Jose Mourinho’s assistant at Chelsea, briefly took over after coaching in the club’s youth setup but he could do little to change the club’s fortunes and, after a poor start to the 2008-09 campaign, he was replaced as manager by Gudjon Thordarson. 

Thordarson oversaw a temporary move away from the club’s philosophy but he was replaced by Gradi again a couple of months after the club dropped to League Two for the first time in 14 years.

Going nowhere and hovering in League Two, with the production line slowing up, former defender and assistant boss to Gradi, Steve Davis, stepped into the helm in 2011 with the brief of keeping the club in the Football League. He over-achieved sensationally, though, leading the club to the play-offs and eventual promotion as well as handing substantial first team opportunities to the likes of Murphy, Westwood, Powell and Clayton.

The return to the third tier was managed comfortably as Davis steered his side to 13th in the table as well as the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, beating Southend United at Wembley just two months before Latics, who were enjoying their eighth season in the top flight, won the FA Cup against Manchester City.


A 19th place finish in the 2013-14 campaign was another good return for the Alex considering the departures of Powell, Westwood and Murphy.

Davis secured a fourth consecutive season in League One but by the narrowest of margins last season as results elsewhere went in their favour as they lost 1-0 at home to Bradford City on the final day.

This summer has seen four new faces arrive at the time of printing as experienced midfielder David Fox signed from Colchester United whilst Ben Nugent (Cardiff City), Billy Bingham (Dag & Red) and Dave Richards (Bristol City) have also bolstered Davis’ squad along with the arrival of Adam King on loan from Swansea City. Long-serving player Matt Tootle left for Shrewsbury whilst Anthony Grant, Vadaine Oliver and Scott Shearer departed.

Seven of the eight pre-season fixtures the Alex played ended in victory, though their highest ranked opponents were Chester and Altrincham of the National League, playing the majority of their other friendlies against local sides such as Alsager Town, Nantwich Town, Newcastle Town and Kidsgrove Athletic.

Yet to win in their opening five competitive fixtures, the Alex drew 0-0 on the opening day in their local derby with rivals Port Vale before they exited the Capital One Cup at the hands of Championship side Preston North End, losing 3-1.

A 2-0 defeat at Scunthorpe United and 3-2 loss at high-flying Coventry City followed before Bradden Inman’s late goal on Saturday ensured a 3-3 draw with Bury.

A cause for concern for Davis will be the 11 goals his side have shipped in their last four fixtures and the fact three of those four games have seen the Alex concede inside the opening 15 minutes.


FOLLOW THE MATCH

You can listen to Latics v Crewe Alexandra on LaticsPlayerHD as our commentary team of Ashley Houghton and former Latics captain Neill Rimmer take you through every kick on our new and improved service.  Sign up now by [clicking here].

With a LaticsPlayerHD subscription at £4.49 for a month or £37.99 for an annual pass, you will also access exclusive extended highlights, as well as all of our pre and post-match interviews and features.

You can also delve deep into our archives for your favourite classic matches as we continue to update our library!

If you’re in the Wigan area, you can also tune into 102.4 WISH FM. 

You can also enjoy our FREE text commentary service Latics Wall, with in-game photos from our Club Photographer, Bernard Platt, at pitch side and interaction with other Wigan Athletic supporters.

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