The Alexandra Stadium - Crewe Alexandra FC (1)

Crewe Alexandra have secured their position in League One in the first season since being promoted from League Two on a points-per-game basis at the end of last season.

Back in the third tier for the first time since 2016, the Railwaymen picked up where they left off last year to solidify their place at the next level under David Artell.

Fans who may have been aiming higher will have to wait another year, it seems, with mid-table Crewe drifting out as far as 33/1 to sneak into the League One playoff positions and 80/1 to be promoted in the football betting odds.

They still, however, remain in with a shout of their highest finish in the football league pyramid since they were first relegated from the Championship in 2005/06 – a top-half finish would be enough to best the 13th they managed twice in the 2010s.

Of the teams that came up from the fourth tier last season, Crewe have enjoyed the most success in their first campaign back in League One.

Swindon Town were crowned League Two champions on points-per-game but they, along with playoff final winners Northampton Town, are embroiled in a survival fight at the bottom of the table.

Last season’s third-placed Plymouth Argyle sit seemingly safe in mid-table, meaning like Crewe they can begin to prepare for a possible promotion charge next year.

Crewe Alex Manager Dave Artell (1)
Crewe Alex manager Dave Artell

For Crewe, goals have come from a number of sources this campaign but more will be expected of French striker Mikael Mandron if the Alex are to make a run up the table next season.

The summer signing from Gillingham is Crewe’s leading scorer this campaign with 10 league goals, including a brace in an away win over MK Dons at the start of April.

That victory came after Mandron had started several games on the bench, as Artell tried to inspire his main goalscorer back to his red-hot early-season form.

With star right-back and club captain Perry Ng sold to Championship promotion-chasers Cardiff City in the January transfer window, the door is open for other players to make their mark on this Alexandra side.

That begins with Ng’s fellow academy graduates Owen Dale and Charlie Kirk.

Both are young wingers who have impressed on the flanks for Crewe this year.

Dale has supplied eight goals from the right-hand side, while left-sided Kirk has provided five goals and seven assists.

Still both in their early 20s, keeping the front three of Kirk, Dale and Mandron together – and firing – will be crucial if Crewe are to chase a long-awaited place in the Championship next season.

There’s reason for optimism among Alex fans based on performances this year, with Artell’s men never dragged into the relegation conversation.

Will Jääskeläinen, son of Bolton Wanderers legend Jussi and a former Nantwich Town loanee, has looked sturdy in his second full season at the club and his first at League One level.

The season even featured a cameo from old academy graduate Billy Jones, bringing his years of Premier League experience home after many years away from Gresty Road.

Now, it’s simply about building on these strong foundations.

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