Crewe Alexandra are gearing up for their second season in League 2 following relegation from League 1 in 2015. They will be looking for an improvement on the 17th placed finish last time out, just nine points clear of the drop-zone.
Opening weekend and Carabao Cup
After a gruelling seven game pre-season schedule, Crewe started their League 2 campaign with a 2-2 draw against title-favourites Mansfield Town.
Summer signing Chris Porter scored both goals, as Crewe twice lost the lead at Gresty Road.
Crewe were back at home just four days later, entertaining Bolton Wanderers in the Carabao Cup.
But Crewe gave up a lead again as they suffered a 2-1 defeat. Porter scored another goal for his new team to give them a half-time lead, before goals from Adam Armstrong and Derik turned the tie on its head.
Team news and Summer Signings
David Artell has been busy on trying to improve his squad for the coming season, bringing in five additions.
Chris Porter is the most notable of them, joining from League 2 rivals Colchester United. Striker Jordan Bowery and midfielder Brad Walker have also joined the club, from Hartlepool United and Leyton Orient respectively.
Defenders Michael Raynes and Eddie Nolan complete the incomings at Crewe.
Nine players have headed for the exit door during the summer. Billy Bingham and Jon Guthrie have both moved to League 1 clubs, with four players still looking for a new club following their release.
Crewe have concerns over two players for our visit.
Former Wales u’21 international George Ray is not expected to be ready. The defender is yet to return to full-training after suffering a back injury at Easter and as such is not expected to be make an appearance.
Midfielder James Jones also faces a late fitness test.
One to watch – Chris Porter
Goals this season: 3
Previous clubs: Bury, Oldham Athletic, Motherwell, Derby County, Sheffield United, Colchester United
Veteran Chris Porter has settled well to life in Cheshire. In addition to his double at the weekend and strike in mid-week, the striker also netted a further three goals in pre-season.
Porter will be looking to replicate his form from his time at Colchester United, where he scored 30 goals in two seasons. He also scored an impressive 27 goals in just 67 games whilst at Motherwell in Scotland.
Porter is the favourite to score the opener with SKY BET at 9/2 and can also be found at 7/4 to score at any time.
Manager – David Artell
David Artell has been in the dugout with the Railwaymen since 8th January 2017. It his first managerial role, but had been Academy operations manager at Crewe from 2014 until he took-over the first team.
Artell had a very successful playing career in the Football League. Most notably, the 36-year-old made over 100 appearances for Morecambe. He has also been capped seven times by Gibraltar.
Stadium - Alexandra Stadium
Alexandra Stadium was where it all started for Mike Flynn as caretaker manager for County just five months ago.
Opened in 1906, the ground has been home to Crewe Alexandra ever since.
Currently, the ground has a capacity of just over 10,000 with County fans housed in the Whitby Morrison Ice Cream Van Stand on one side of the pitch.
County and Crewe have met on 36 previous occasions. The Exiles have the slightly better record, with 12 wins, 11 defeats and 14 draws.
However, the game will only be the third time the two sides have met since County’s reformation in 1989.
County and Crewe met for the first time in 28 years with a 1-1 draw at Rodney Parade on 20th August.
Chelsea loanee Alex Kiwomya gave the visitors the lead in the first-half, running the full length of the pitch before smashing a 20-yard effort into the top corner.
Sean Rigg equalised for County with ten minutes to go, heading home a Jazzi Barnum-Bobb cross for County’s first home point of the season.
The Exiles then put the wheels in motion for their ‘Great Escape’ with a 2-1 victory at Gresty Road on 11th March in Mike Flynn’s first game in temporary charge.
Callum Cooke gave Crewe a deserved half-time lead, before County rejuvenated to turn the game around.
In scenes that the Exiles would become renowned for, Dan Butler volleyed home the equaliser in the 53rd minute.
Joss Labadie struck an 89th minute winner to give County their first away win since November.
A view from the camp
"Crewe are a very good side. They've recruited well this summer. We know what they are about and we'll do our homework like we always do to try and put in a good performance.
"Momentum is key and if we keep the performance levels high then we'll have a great chance."
Crewe Manager David Artell:
"We know what Newport will bring. Newport will be stiff opposition again after what we saw from them at Southend United in the week. We will get our rest in now and prepare properly for this fixture."
Referee - Eddie Ilderton
Assistant referee 1 - David Benton
Assistant referee 2 - Ian Smedley
Fourth official - Mark Cunliffe
Ilderton is in his 15th season as a Football League referee. Last season, he officiated on 18 games, brandishing 52 yellow cards and three red cards.
This season, Ilderton has also overseen two games.
On the opening weekend, Ilderton gave two yellow cards and two red cards as Grimsby overcame Colchester United 3-1 at the Proact Stadium.
On Tuesday, Ilderton officiated Accrington’s thrilling 3-2 win over Preston North End. No players were booked during this fixture.
Ilderton has refereed the County on one previous occassion. That game was last season at Exeter, where the Exiles won 1-0 through a Tom-Owen Evans winner after a delayed kick-off. Mark Randall and Darren Jones were both booked for County that day.
Other games around the league (All 3pm kick-offs)
Barnet vs Luton Town
Cambridge United vs Carlisle United
Cheltenham Town vs Crawley Town
Colchester City vs Stevenage
Grimsby Town vs Coventry City
Lincoln City vs Morecambe
Mansfield Town vs Forest Green Rovers
Notts County vs Chesterfield
Port Vale vs Wycombe Wanderers
Swindon Town vs Exeter City
Yeovil Town vs Accrington Stanley