Crewe Alexandra’s inconsistent season continued with a 1-0 home defeat by a well organised Yeovil Town side. Crewe were undone five minutes before half-time via a set play and although the Railwaymen controlled much of the possession in the second period, they couldn’t find that equaliser. Bryon Moore, who hit two goals against Swindon on Tuesday evening, forced Marek Stech into a decent save and substitute Brendon Daniels flashed a late effort over the crossbar but the Glovers goalkeeper was not tested enough as Crewe slipped to a third home defeat.
The Glovers who did a job on the Alex scored the only goal when their towering centre-half Byron Webster forced home a corner into the roof of the Crewe net on the eve of the interval.
With Abdul Osman (ankle) and Andy Bond (groin) missing through injury, there was a first league start for young Oliver Turton in central midfield. Turton partnered captain Luke Murphy with Michael West and Chuks Aneke both keeping their places for the visit of the Glovers. Max Clayton (groin) still not quite fit enough there was a place on the substitutes bench for his brother Harry.
Crewe started at a decent tempo but chances on goal were fairly limited from both sides in the early exchanges. Mathias Pogba missed an opportunity to play West in before Aneke was booked early for a chance with Webster.
The ball was spending too much in the air for our liking and the final product from both sides was missing. Tootle galloped forward to have a shot blocked and Aneke did force Stech into a one-handed save after some probing play form Turton. West just couldn’t poke the loose ball goalwards before Daniel Burn cleared the danger.
Yeovil did have the ball in the net after 20 minutes when the in-form Paddy Madden headed home a Sam Foley cross, only for the assistant to rule it out for offside. Moore and Tootle were combining well down the left flank but Yeovil were standing firm at the back and it became something of a midfield battle.
After a Murphy free-kick was cleared, Moore picked the ball up and ran at the Yeovil defence but he dragged his shot wide of the mark.
The visitors’ attack were fairly rare too but Mark Ellis was called upon to cut out a dangerous looking cross from full-back Jamie McAllister and Joe Edwards fired the loose ball over the bar.
Pogba, worked hard but was at times an isolated figure up there and it was obvious that Steve Davis is short of attacking options coming from the bench, with AJ Leitch-Smith and Max Clayton currently injured. The impressive Murphy and Tootle tried to press Crewe forward but it looked like being defences on top in the first half.
That was until James Hayter fought for possession with Turton to smuggle the ball out to Edward Upson and his bouncing shot was awkward for Martin and he could only help it behind for a corner. Yeovil, with the height they possess in their side, were always a threat at set-plays and so it proved on 40 minutes. Webster challenged at the far post and when the ball dropped he reacted quickly to fire the ball into the roof net. It was a sucker punch for the Alex to take.
Crewe tried to hit back almost immediately but Pogba had his low cross cut out by McAllister and Aneke flicked a backward header into the hands of Stech after being picked out by Moore.
Crewe upped the tempo at the start of the second half with Pogba having a couple of early half chances that didn’t really trouble Stech.
At the other end, the lively Keanu March-Brown whistled one over the crossbar from 25 yards out before Daniel Johnson replaced the experienced Hayter. Madden also forced Martin into a smart save after getting through and it was a catalyst for Crewe to take hold of the possession.
Tootle tried to play Pogba through, but the ball just ran through to Stech before a smart move from a free kick nearly forced home an equaliser. Murphy chipped it into Pogba and after some clever link up play between him and Aneke saw him face a save from Stech. It was more of a stab at goal from Aneke rather than a powerful shot.
The hard working Pogba shot through a crowd but it was eventually blocked by Burn before West was replaced by Daniels.
Murphy remained the heart-beat of the side and understandably won the man-of-the-match award for his effort. He tried to get on the ball and get us going and was competing well alongside debutant Turton. He too was neat and tidy in his play and did a lot of tracking back. Turton also shot wide as Crewe tried to muster a late surge.
The pressure continued to be on the Yeovil box but they defended extremely well and were a threat on the counter-attack when an opportunity arose to break. After Mellor had gone down in the box, the excellent Madden drifted past Martin but couldn’t screw his shot on target.
Some more good work from Murphy saw him find Aneke in space and his clever ball through to Moore forced Stech into his best save of the afternoon. A confident Moore hit it well enough on the half volley and on the bounce but the Yeovil goalkeeper was right behind it to make the stop.
Crewe were nearly caught out at the back, with Foley guiding a shot a yard wide with the outside of his foot and Madden driving another shot just wide.
With the clock ticking away, Crewe were desperate for a chance to fall to us inside the box. Aneke had the best chance after another forceful run from Tootle but he could only side foot wide from pretty close range. Daniels also got a late ball out of his feet but fired over and he was then booked late on for sliding in on the Yeovil goalkeeper for showing his studs. It was harsh.
Ellis was also booked for a shove as he tried to take a quick free. It was all determined and desperate stuff but that real genuine chance to get something from the match never materialised and Crewe slipped to their third home defeat of the season.