Writer: Matt Owen
Date:Thursday August 6 2009
Saturday 8th August 2009
Crewe start life in league two with a home match against Essex based Dagenham and Redbridge and Gudjon Thordarson will be eager for his side to start a win as the Railwaymen return to the bottom league for the first time in over 15 years.
The last match played at this level was a 2-1 win at local rivals Chester, a result which saw both teams promoted to league one, whilst Dagenham were plying their trade in non league circles. On that famous day at Wembley in 1997 the visitors to the Alexandra Stadium were reflecting on missing out on promotion back to the Conference.
How times change, after experiencing the highs of the Championship we are now back where it all started and whilst fans can look back with fondness, the reality is those days are likely to never return again and we have to accept that.
League Two won`t be a walk in park and Saturday`s visitors will give us an indication of just what to expect from the division, they had a successful season last time out but some of their better players have departed and in reality if the Alex harbour any hopes of promotion then victory is a must.
Daggers boss John Still feels the trip to Crewe will be tough, he said 'I will watch them this week and then prepare the best we can for what will be one of our tougher away games this season.'
Meanwhile Gudjon Thordarson has been reflecting on the pre-season campaign, he said 'We are moving in the right direction. The shape and formation has worked well in pre-season and we have been relatively pleased with the results and the performances"
Crewe have no major injury worries, youngsters Danny Shelley and Anthony McManus are the only two missing from the squad. Captain Billy Jones is expected to play despite being withdrawn at half time in the 4-1 win over Birmingham.
Likely Team: Button, Jones, Brayford, Ada, O`Donnell, Schumacher, Mitchell-King, Grant, Donaldson, Elding, Zola
Joel Grant has had an impressive pre-season and will be looking to improve on a disappointing first season after joining from Aldershot this time last year. Has plenty of tricks and seems to be thriving in the new role that Gudjon has handed him.
John Still will have to choose who will partner Paul Benson up front. Jon Nurse is likely to get the nod ahead of Graeme Montgomery. The Daggers will be without Josh Scott (suspended) whilst Mark Nwokeji and Wesley Thomas are recovering from injury and unlikely to be risked.
All eyes will be on Paul Benson, he was prolific last season and they have turned down bids for the striker who netted 21 goals last season. Crewe`s defensive partnership of Patrick Ada and Danny O`Donnell will have their work cut dealing with Benson.
This is the first meeting between the two sides. This time last year, Dagenham trounced Cheshire rivals Chester 6-0 in the opening game last season whilst Crewe lost 2-1 to Brighton.
The referee is MR S.A Hooper, he will be assisted by M.A Astley and M.J Denton. Fourth official will be P. Hodskinson. Mr Hooper officiated in 25 games last season, issuing 59 yellow cards and 8 red cards and his last game in charge of Crewe was the 0-0 draw at Millwall last December.
Crewe 1-1 Dagenham
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