Crewe Alex: Davis hopes Alex measure up to FA Cup test
BRING out the tape measures, Crewe are ready to embark on a new FA Cup campaign.
It is now more than 10 years since the Railwaymen progressed past round three and a nice diversion from the toils of League One would not go amiss right now.
Steve Davis is not too far from the truth when he says league form goes out of the window as far as the world's most famous domestic knock-out competition is concerned.
In fact, the Football League had not even been formed when the Alex enjoyed their greatest ever ride in the tournament, all the way to the semi-finals in 1887/88 ... even if it required more gamesmanship than FA Cup magic.
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When Crewe met Swifts in a fourth-round tie at Kensington 125 years ago, the game finished 2-2.
The South Cheshire party were not happy, however, and managed to prove one crossbar was two inches lower than the other, which itself was two inches below the required height.
Swifts were disqualified and Crewe went on to beat Derby County and Middlesbrough before losing to Preston.
Davis will hope not to need any loopholes to get past a Wycombe team which has fallen like a stone from League One into the dregs of the basement tier.
The Wycombe Wanderers Supporters' Trust has needed to plough £600,000 into the club to avoid a fall into administration. Previous owner Steve Hayes is still owed £2m.
Gary Waddock has made way for Gareth Ainsworth in the dug-out, but the third-bottom Chairboys have had to rely on youth players to make up the numbers, especially with long-term injuries to defenders Grant Basey and Marvin McCoy, midfielder Matt Bloomfield and forward Dennis Oli.
Not that Davis is taking anything for granted, having seen the Alex come unstuck against Colchester United, Tamworth and York City in the opening round in the last three years.
"You want a good cup run, we are due a good run and it's nice to have a home draw," he said.
"We haven't played Wycombe since the season before last and they've obviously had difficulties in the past couple of years.
"They've got a new manager who has a tough job down there, but league form counts for nothing in the FA Cup.
"Some surprises always spring up. No result is guaranteed and they will come here fighting to get through. We need to be prepared for that.
"It's a chance for our lads to put Saturday (a 1-0 home defeat to Yeovil in League One) behind them and get a good result which will give us confidence to take into the league."
Crewe old boy Joel Grant is expected to slip into the visitors' front line as Jo Kuffour (ankle) and Dean Morgan (hamstring) remain sidelined. Matt McClure hopes to recover from a hamstring injury in time to partner him.
Loanee midfielder Bruno Andrade (knee) is also missing.
Midfielder Abdul Osman (ankle) and striker Max Clayton, below, (groin) are racing to be fit for Crewe, but forward Ajay Leitch-Smith (ankle ligaments) is still sidelined.
Davis said: "I'm looking forward to the game. It's a break from the league where we have had some tough matches and have a couple more next week.
"Looking back at the Yeovil game I think I was a little too critical. When you take away the negativity and watch the game we were the better team and created opportunities.
"We just need to start putting them away."