The Railwaymen produced a strong finish to the regular season, thus ensuring that they have a one in four chance of making it to League One and Steve Davis’ side won’t be feeling too much pressure compared to the other teams in the top seven.
Crewe actually lost their opening five games of the season, although Alex finished off without a defeat in their last 16 matches, even if 9 of these games ended in a draw.
The home side are marginal favourites at 6/4 (Paddy Power free bets) to claim victory in this first leg encounter against a team that led the way during the first few months of the season, although the Shrimpers were edged out of the automatic places by Crawley Town.
Paul Sturrock’s team need to dust themselves down and focus on edging out Crewe over two legs, with Southend boasting an outstanding away record of 13 wins on the road which was 3 more than champions Swindon.
This included a 3-1 win at Gresty Road in October and the Essex team can be backed at 2/1 (bet365 £200 free bets) to claim victory in this League Two play-off semi-final first leg, with three consecutive wins helping them to finish the season strongly.
Experienced forward Neil Harris will be leading the line for the visitors and he has a healthy return of 9 for the season, while Freddie Eastwood has the class to score goals at this level.