Liam Hoden’s match preview: Rovers require same ruthlessness and relentlessness at Crewe

Andy Williams celebrates his dramatic late winner against Crewe earlier in the season.
Andy Williams celebrates his dramatic late winner against Crewe earlier in the season.

Who truly thought a month ago that it would come to this?

Rovers have for so long looked dead and buried but now cannot be relegated on the day of their penultimate game of the season, regardless of the result.

They do need to win on Saturday at Crewe Alexandra however to ensure Fleetwood Town cannot relegate them on Monday.

But after the incredible about-turn in form, Rovers should be overwhelming favourites to win at Gresty Road.

Deserved wins over Wigan and Coventry mean there should be no issue in pushing aside a Crewe outfit who have long sat at the foot of League One.

Crewe’s defeat at Oldham last weekend was their 15th straight game without a win - eight of the last nine being defeats. Rovers could not have picked a better match on which to pin their survival hopes.

Yet, they certainly must not approach the game with that in mind.

Victories over Wigan and Coventry have come through committed, tireless performances where the opposition have never been given a minute’s peace.

And there has been a ruthlessness with the ball, driven by superb midfield cohesion.

The standard of opposition may be inferior this weekend but Crewe must be given the same treatment.

Alex’s scalps this season have been few but notable and Rovers cannot afford to take their foot off the gas.

This is Alex’s final opportunity to give their long-suffering home support something to shout about, which is something which should not be underestimated.

They are likely to be up for this weekend’s game more than their trip to Fleetwood next weekend - another game that will decide Rovers’ fate.

On Saturday evening it would be fantastic to be asking once again why Rovers could not produce such a performance during the horrendous run which got them into this mess in the first place.

Victory would put a tremendous amount of pressure on fifth-bottom Fleetwood, who do not play until Monday when they face a tough trip to Walsall.

Usually, the way an opposition lines up would be discussed here - Crewe boss Steve Davies has favoured 4-4-2 in recent weeks. But to borrow an oft-used line from managers, it does not matter what the opposition do.

It is about what Rovers do this weekend. The order of the day should be sticking with a 4-4-2 diamond that has served them so well in recent weeks and produce the same high energy, high intensity performances of the last fortnight.

Do that and we should be coming back here next week to discuss exactly what they need to do on the final day to secure survival.

And who would ever have thought that?