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Match Previews

2015/16 preview - introducing Crewe Alexandra FC

3 June 2015

Meet Millwall's League One opponents

CREWE ALEXANDRA

Founded: 1877

Stadium: Gresty Road

Nickname: Alex, Railwaymen

Position: 20th in League One

Manager: Steve Davis was confirmed as Crewe manager in November 2011 - his first appointment as boss of a Football League club after previously taking charge of Northwich Victoria and Nantwich Town.

It was no surprise that the popular former Alex defender was given the opportunity to take charge, however, having  been at Gresty Road since May 2009 in the capacity of assistant manager.

Prior to joining Crewe, Davis led Nantwich Town to two promotions in three seasons and guided them to victory in the FA Vase.

He made an instant impact at the Alexandra Stadium, as he guided Crewe to promotion to League One after they defeated Cheltenham Town in the 2011/12 Play-Off final.

It was a fantastic achievement to restore the club to the third tier of English football, considering he had only taken charge in November, going on to lose only four of the remaining 32 games.

In 2012/13, more success was to follow as Davis secured a first-ever Football League Trophy for Crewe in another Wembley triumph.

The following two campaigns also saw Davis secure Crewe's position in League One, continuing a proud tradition of successfully integrating homegrown players into the senior squad.

Key Player: Finnish forward Lauri Dalla Valle returned to Gresty Road for a second time in December 2014 on an 18-month contract. 

The 23-year-old was a free agent having left Belgian Second Division side Sint Truiden in June 2014. He had previously enjoyed a successful loan spell at the Alex whilst on Fulham's books in 2012/13 where he scored five goals in 10 appearances.

Highly rated at youth level, Dalla Valle had a stint at Inter Milan before a move to Liverpool. He then switched to Fulham in 2010 where he was a regular at youth and U21 level, but made only two appearances for the Cottagers – both in the Europa League. 

Further experience was gained during loan spells with the likes of Bournemouth, Exeter City and Crewe before he moved to Molde in February 2013. He stayed barely five months with the Norwegian heavyweights before moving both country and team to Belgium with Sint Truiden, where he made over 20 appearances.

Although niggling injuries hampered the early weeks of his return to Crewe, by the end of the 2014/15 campaign Dalla Valle was back to his best with the promise of more to follow this coming campaign.

Top scorer: Nicky Ajose (9 goals)

Head-to-head: Although Crewe hold the upper hand stats-wise with 12 wins overall to Millwall's 10 in their 31 meetings, The Lions have enjoyed a greater return in recent years and not been beaten in the last seven encounters between the two teams.

Most memorable of matches in the immediate past was a chilly January evening in 2009 when a certain Mr Neil Harris wrote himself into the very fabric of Millwall's history, surpassing Teddy Sheringham's club record by notching his 112th goal to become the club's all-time highest goal-scorer with an instinctive finish in a 3-2 FA Cup Third Round replay win.

Last time we met: Doncaster Rovers' loanee Jason Price broke Crewe hearts with an injury-time goal to clinch a 1-0 win as Millwall stayed in the hunt for automatic promotion with their second success at Gresty Road in the early part of 2009.

Having already won an FA Cup reply in January, striker Price, a half-time substitute for the injured Neil Harris, grabbed the all-important goal in this League match on 28th March.

There were just seconds remaining when he turned the ball home after Alex keeper John Ruddy had spilled his first effort, securing three valuable awayday points for Kenny Jackett's side.

Crewe Alexandra: Ruddy, Brayford, Woodards, Broomes, Baudet, Sheehan, Carrington (Westwood, 81mins), Sigurdsson, Pope, Moore (Miller, 33mins), Donaldson. Subs not used: Collis, O'Donnell, Grant.

Millwall: Forde, Dunne, Frampton, Craig, Whitbread, Bolder, Martin, Laird, Henry (Fuseini, 89mins), Alexander, Harris (Price, 46mins). Subs not used: Pidgeley, Barron, Grimes.
Scorer: Price (90mins)

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