SOUTHEND UNITED v CREWE ALEXANDRA
It's the all-important League 2 Play-Off second legs this week and the action kick-offs on Wednesday evening as Crewe Alexandra travel to Roots Hall to take on Southend United.
The teams met in the first leg on Saturday evening and Adam Dugdale scored the only goal of the game to give the Railwaymen a slender 1-0 advantage ahead of the match in Essex.
Crewe boss Steve Davis was obviously pleased with the win but believes his side could improve on their performance that got them the victory. The manager is also expecting Southend to alter their game plan, to shape up in a more attacking style.
He told www.crewealex.net: "I have a look at things and picked things up that could improve us. I thought we combated them well but we know it will be a tough game on Wednesday night. We got dragged into a bit of a battle towards the end of the game on Saturday so we can expect more of that.
"I am sure they will come and attack us more and maybe go with another up front. Freddy Eastwood might start and I'm sure they will be looking to [Bilel] Mohsni in the air, so we have to stand up to that. We coped with it on Saturday and we can stand up to it and do it again."
The 46-year-old manager took over from Dario Gradi back in November, when the Railwaymen were six points above the relegation zone after losing 10 of their opening 17 fixtures.
They have been defeated just four times since then, though, and Davis believes his team have become a more resilient outfit, which will need to be utilised in the second leg if they are to edge past the Shrimpers and into the final at Wembley on 27th May.
Southend manager Paul Sturrock was understandably disappointed with the outcome of the first leg but believes his side can overturn the slim deficit on home soil.
He told Blues Player: "1-0 with the way we played in the first-half isn't a disaster. Away goals don't count, which makes it much easier. We know what we've got to do - either go 1-0 up and win it on penalties or we get the goals that we need.
"If we bring our show to Roots Hall on Wednesday, I'm sure we will get the result we need."
The 55-year-old Scot, who won the 2005 League 1 Play-Off final with Sheffield Wednesday, is aware of the danger that chasing a lead can bring and draws on the recent Championship Play-Off semi-finals as an example.
"We're going have to be very thoughtful defensively and ensure we don't leave the backdoor open. I watched Blackpool the other day and they were 3-0 up very, very rapidly. You don't want to be too cavalier.
"We've also got to be positive in our approach - at the end of the day we have to score two goals."
Southend may be behind and up against an in-form side, but they will take heart from the fact that they were the last team to beat Crewe, way back in February.
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TORQUAY UNITED v CHELTENHAM TOWN
Cheltenham Town have a two-goal advantage as they head to Plainmoor to take on Torquay United in the other Play-Off semi-final second leg.
The Robins recorded a convincing 2-0 victory at Whaddon Road on Sunday with Jermaine McGlashan and Ben Burgess finding the net for Mark Yates' side.
Yates was delighted with his team's display but, despite their seemingly comfortable position, the manager is obviously aware that his side haven't booked their place at Wembley just yet.
He told www.ctfc.co.uk: "I thought we played well and deserved to win the game. At half-time we are 2-0 up but it's far from over. If we play with the same attitude, quality and effort then we will give ourselves a real chance.
"The plan was to attack. For 10 minutes we have gave them a few chances and they surprised us with a few long balls in the swirling wind but after that we pretty much controlled the game and scored at the right times. The lads can be really proud of their efforts."
With a 2-0 deficit to overcome, Torquay will be huge underdogs to progress to the final but boss Martin Ling isn't writing his side off.
"We're not dead yet," Ling told www.torquayunited.com. "Cheltenham are massive favourites but it's still game-on as far as I'm concerned. We have our backs against the wall and it will require a monumental effort by us, but we are still in the tie. The first goal at Plainmoor will be all-important."
Torquay will need to use the heartache of last season at Old Trafford, where they lost 1-0 to Stevenage in the Play-Off final, to spur them on and bring this tie back to life. They will have to do so without the services of striker Rene Howe, though, who limped off in the first leg with a hamstring injury.
Earlier in the season, both of these sides had looked set for an automatic promotion place - Cheltenham were top in January whilst Torquay were sitting second until mid-April - but both fell short at the end of the campaign and had to settle for a Play-Off spot.
For one, a trip to Wembley and a shot at promotion to League 1 is on the cards. For the other, it's another campaign in League 2.
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