Peter Morse, Sports Editor for the Crewe Chronicle previews Barnsley’s FA Cup Third Round tie at Crewe Alexandra on Sunday – here’s the view from the opposition camp.
The Reds begin their Emirates FA Cup campaign with a trip to Cheshire this weekend, as they look to progress to the fourth round of the competition for the first time since 2013.
At the same stage last season, the Reds fell to a narrow 1-0 defeat at Premier League side Burnley as striker Chris Wood scored the only goal of the game from the penalty spot in the second minute of added time to break Barnsley hearts.
As for Crewe, they’ve already had to navigate their way past League One opposition Accrington Stanley in the first round before beating non-league Eastleigh in a replay a few weeks ago to secure a home tie against The Reds on Sunday.
This will be the Railwaymen’s first appearance in the third round for just over ten years.
Speaking to Peter Morse of the Crewe Chronicle ahead of this highly anticipated fixture, he said: “It’s going to be an interesting game. Crewe are in good form, they’ve had two good wins at home in the last few days and being the underdogs, there won’t be too much pressure on them.
“They’ll fancy their chances in a respectful sort of way. Barnsley play two levels higher and they have some very good players. It’s going to be a tough task for Crewe, but they’ve already won at Middlesbrough and they also played very well at Aston Villa in the Carabao Cup this season even though they lost, so they’ll definitely look to have a go.
“Barnsley are going to be favourites, they will be expecting to win and rightfully so, but for both sides, it’s a nice break from the league competition. It’s also been a long time since Crewe have been in round three, the players know it’s going to be a bigger stage and there will be more people watching, so they will look to treat it with the upmost of importance.”
The Railwaymen have had a fantastic season so far, exceeding their expectations by sitting 3rd in Sky Bet League Two and looking to seal an automatic promotion place which will see them return to the third tier of English football for the first time in three years.
“Crewe have had a really good season so far. They’ve struggled in League Two since they got relegated, this is only season since then, they’ve been at the right end of the table. The supporters are obviously delighted with that and they will be hoping it can continue.” Added Morse.
The man in charge of the Railwaymen is David Artell, a former Gibraltar international and Crewe captain during their last promotion to League One in 2012.
Artell, 39, retired from professional football in 2017 after playing for non-league Droylsden, before taking over the reigns as manager at Crewe.
“David Artell has definitely picked up Crewe’s footballing philosophy. It’s pretty much a requirement of any Crewe manager to play an attractive brand of football and to promote youngsters from the academy.
“Artell played for Crewe and captained the side when they got promoted to League One in 2012 and played alongside the likes of Ashley Westwood, Nick Powell and Luke Murphy, so there was no doubting in the type of football Crewe were going to play when he took over as manager.
“With the current trend of passing out from the back, Crewe have scored a number of goals. Artell tends to play with a 4-3-3 formation.
“I think Crewe will look to approach the game the same as they do any other. They wouldn’t be capable of trying to sit deep or go for a draw because they haven’t really got the players to do that as they like to play attacking, open football.”
The fans have enjoyed watching football at Gresty Road under Artell, and after a tough few years for the club, they will be hoping their fortunes have turned around.
“The feeling around Crewe is good at the moment. It’s been a difficult few years both on and off the pitch, but the fans are really enjoying seeing how the team is playing now.
“They have a special sense of pride because they know the vast majority of players have come through the youth set-up. That’s a big thing in Crewe.” Morse told us.
One player in the current line-up who came through the academy system is winger Charlie Kirk.
The 22-year-old made his debut for the Railwaymen in 2016 as a substitute against Rochdale and has gone on to make over 120 appearances ever since.
This season, the attacker has notched six goals and chipped in with nine assists. Morse outlined him as the player Barnsley need to keep an eye on this weekend.
He said: “There have been a number of standout performers for Crewe this season, but I’ll go with Charlie Kirk.
“He plays on the left of the front three and already has plenty of goals and assists to his name. He’s had a really good impact this season and has a great end product.
“He’s right footed so he likes to cut inside and shoot. He also links the play really well and takes some set-pieces, so he’s the one Barnsley need to look out for.”