Six pointers don’t get much bigger than this. A win on Saturday would surely see the Owls secure Championship football for another season, whereas a defeat for Crewe would see them destined for League One. The biggest game of the season for both sides is sure to make for an entertaining match.
Dario Gradi told The Sentinal:
‘We could do with some real support on Saturday.
‘I sat behind the Wednesday fans at the play-offs, and I swear a good few of them didn’t watch the game. They had their arms up and were staring at the heavens,’ he said.
‘They were shouting their heads off and making a lot of noise.
‘I don’t think we have fans like that – and I’m not saying we want them like that – but the Gresty Road End, in particular, has been good to us this season, as were those who went to QPR last Saturday.
‘That’s our Kop and they will need to be on their best form for Wednesday.
‘We need them to get behind the players and give them a boost.’
Crewe Alex Team News:
Crewe manager Dario Gradi has kept faith with the same starting eleven for the last six games, and it now seems to be working for the Railway men. Gradi is likely to select the same eleven to start on Saturday.
Gradi has highlighted poor set pieces as a reason why Alex find themselves at the bottom of the league. The Railway men have worked tirelessly on corners and free-kicks during the week so the Owls will have to be wary around the box.
Alex have one of the worst defensive records in the league at home, but also have one of the best goalscoring records out of the bottom teams – so it’s sure to be an entertaining match at the Alexandra Stadium.
Player to watch: Kenny Lunt
Lunt has been an integral part of Dario Gradi’s side after coming through the youth system in 1997. The midfield engine of the team, Lunt opened the scoring in their 2-1 away victory over QPR last week and is likely to pose the biggest threat on the day for Wednesday. Folly and Whelen will have to be on their toes to keep Lunt at bay.
Wednesday Team News:
The Owls will be without on-loan defender Mikkel Bischoff after an injury against Burnley last week forced him out of action for 2-3 weeks. The news is a big blow to Paul Sturrock, whose team have gone unbeaten since the Danish defender’s arrivel. Club captain Lee Bullen is set to partner Graham Coughlan in the centre of defence.
The defender’s absence may mean youngster Rory McArdle is included in the Owls squad. McArdle has just completed a successful 8-month loan at League Two side Rochdale. With the Owls down to the bare bones as far as defenders are concerned, McArdle is likely to feature on the bench.
Apart from the injury to Bischoff, the Owls have no fresh injury concerns going into the match, and Paul Sturrock is likely to stick with a similar squad to that which has lengthened the gap from the drop zone.
Former player of the season Jon-Paul McGovern will continue his progression back into first team football and is likely to be inluded on the bench. The Scot played nine minutes in last weekend’s draw and may feature against the Railwaymen.
Last season’s top scorer Steve Maclean may have to make do with another place on the bench as strike partnership Marcus Tudgay and Deon Burton continue to flourish in attack.
On-loan Liverpool ‘keeper Scott Carson is due to play his final match on loan for the Owls on Saturday. With any luck, Sturrock will have wrapped up a deal to keep the former Leeds stopper at Hillsborough until the end of the seasonl.
Player to watch: Deon Burton
Burton is the man of the moment at Hillsborough. His fine form alongside strike partner Marcus Tudgay in attack will be key in this crunch clash. The former Derby man has made a massive impact for the Owls, summed up in his performance against Wolves lately – where he scored one and set up the other two for Tudgay in a 3-1 victory. Burton has been here and done it before, and his experience will be vita for the Owls.
Match Facts & Stats
Total Matches: 10
SWFC Wins: 5
Crewe Wins: 2
2nd January 2006
Wednesday 3-0 Crewe
The Owls ran out comfortable winners thanks to goals from Richard Wood, debutant Marcus Tudgay, and Chris Brunt. There were debuts fro strike pair Deon Burton and Marcus Tudgay and they both made an impressive debut as the Owls got 2006 off to a winning start in fine style.
Played For Both:
Vs Norwich City (H) – 15/04/06
Vs Brighton & Hove Albion (A) – 17/04/06
Vs Reading (H) – 22/04/06