Crewe: Garratt, Turton, Guthrie, Ray, Bakayogo (Saunders, 75), Jones, Hollands (Wintle, 85), Cooper, Kirk (Dagnall, 65), Kiwomya, Lowe
Unused Subs: Richards, Nugent, Udoh, Ainley
Goals: Lowe (28)
Attendance: 4,368 (995)
Despite a gallant effort from Crewe Alexandra, it ended in frustration for David Artell in his first game in charge of the club after a winning goal from Luton midfielder Jake Gray 20 minutes from time sealed a comeback from Nathan Jones’ side.
Luton had been reduced to ten men after the former Crewe loanee Alan Sheehan was sent off on 53 minutes after collecting his second booking but Gray finished off a pull-back from Danny Hylton to seal the points for the impressive Hatters.
Captain Ryan Lowe had fired the Railwaymen in front after 28 minutes after splendid work from Kiwomya but Luton were level in the final minute of the first half after Jack Marriott squeezed in a shot at the near post.
Crewe couldn’t make the extra man count and despite a real go in the final 10 minutes with a host of attack-minded players on the pitch, we couldn’t find an equaliser on the day.
For his first game in charge of Crewe Alexandra, David Artell made three changes for the visit of Luton Town with Captain Ryan Lowe returning to lead the line. Lowe, 38, replaced Chris Dagnall in a new-look front line with Charlie Kirk operating behind the main striker.
The other changes saw centre-half George Ray come into the starting eleven for Harry Davis and Danny Hollands return for the injured Billy Bingham. Perry Ng was named in the squad of 18 again.
David Artell clearly wants his Crewe Alexandra side to play attractive football and his rival in the technical area, Nathan Jones, has made a reputation on wanting his Luton side to play out from the back. It made for an attractive encounter at a vibrant Alexandra Stadium.
The opening exchanges were tentative with both sides working out shapes and formations but the Railwaymen were snapping into tackles and pressurising.
Crewe Alexandra’s first genuine chance arrived after 10 minutes with Crewe’s wingers George Cooper and Alex Kiwomya began to express themselves with more confidence. Cooper whipped over a dangerous looking cross and Kiwomya was able to apply a touch goalwards but it was too close to Christian Walton and the Luton goalkeeper gathered the ball inside his six yard box.
There were opportunities for Kirk to find Lowe and vice versa but it was evident that Crewe wanted to get on the front foot and take the game to the Hatters.
A really good move from the Railwaymen then saw the impressive Oliver Turton win possession back and he found Cooper. The winger brilliantly found Kirk with a disguised pass but he shot wide. If he had been on target it wouldn’t have counted because Kirk had strayed into an offside position but the proceeding move drew warm applause from the home fans.
Luton offered a threat with the masked man Hylton and the lively Jack Marriott. The Luton number 14, Marriott drew a smart save from Garratt when he shot across goal. Soon after Hylton produced a tempting low cross but Guthrie cleared superbly inside the six yard box.
Marriott stole a yard on Guthrie to curl one just a yard wide before the Crewe centre-half went close with a header from a Cooper free-kick.
Alan Sheehan, the former Crewe loanee left-back drilled one straight at Garratt before Crewe’s pressure finally paid off in the 28th minute. James Jones found Kiwomya in space and the on-loan Chelsea starlet slotted Lowe in on goal and the experienced goal scorer took a decisive touch before finishing with real composure past Walton for his 9th of the season. It was Crewe’s first goal in open play for five matches.
Jordan Cook and Sheehan for a foul on Kirk went into the referee’s book as did the Crewe midfielder Hollands.
A tremendous burst from Guthrie saw him make inroads into the Luton box and Cooper’s cross was cleared from danger. It was really promising stuff from the Alex.
Luton began to really impose themselves in an attacking sense and Ray, on his return to the starting eleven did really well to flick a cross away from Hylton.
The lively Marriott then raced in behind to pull down an excellent pass from Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu but Garratt rushed from his line quickly to block his shot. It a was a fantastic save from the Crewe number one but he would be beaten at his near post in the 44th minute. Marriott’s runs were impressive throughout and although under pressure from Ray, he managed to squeeze a shot under Garratt to equalise. It was untimely for the Alex as after an improved first-half display we went into the break level.
Luton actually started the second half on the front foot and Turton soon joined Hollands in the book before full-back Sheehan was shown a red card following two bookings following are grounded challenge on Kiwomya after 53 minutes.
Luton boss Nathan Jones quickly made a double substitution with Jack Senior and Jonathan Smith replacing Cook and D’Ath.
Artell’s Crewe tried to make the extra-man count with Ray flicking a Jones free-kick over the crossbar before Walton was forced to palm out a cross from Zoumana Bakayogo. The ball dropped to a Luton boot inside the box and it continued to do so, much to our frustration.
The new Crewe boss made a change with Dagnall on for Kirk and later Saunders replaced Bakayogo as we really went for it.
Marriott was the most impressive player on the day and forced Garratt into a smart save before Luton took the lead on 69 minutes. Crewe looked to have cleared the danger but Hylton did well close to the by-line to keep the ball alive and his pull back was tucked home by Gray. It was a blow for the Alex to take at that stage, but we regrouped to have a real go.
Lowe quickly found Cooper but his shot was blocked and the ball was cleared. James Jones also shot wide as Guthrie, playing on the left of a back three, had found him on the edge of the box.
Marriott could have sealed the points before he was substituted for Isaac Vassell after he had wrestled his way past Guthrie, but Garratt again did well to make a brave save as the Luton forward tried to lift it over him.
Luton began to kill the game off, understandably taking their time over things. Artell introduced Wintle for Hollands and although we staged a brave finish led by the impressive Cooper we couldn’t find an equaliser. Kiwomya fired just wide of the far corner and Lowe flicked one over but it was a difficult chance for the veteran. Hylton was also relived to see his goalkeeper behind him after a Lowe cross was headed back into his direction.
In the final minute of stoppage time, Cooper’s corner was headed over by Dagnall and the our chance of a point went with it.
View over 10 mins of HD highlights from the game exclusively on Crewe Alex Player below