Crewe Alexandra had to survive an early barrage of attacks from Leyton Orient to collect what proved to be a deserved point in the end. Russell Slade’s side hit the crossbar and post before deservedly taking the lead through Lee Cook after 26 minutes.
The Railwaymen had to ride their luck at times, but improved heading towards the interval and drew level five minutes before the break when winger Byron Moore turned in a super cross by Luke Murphy.
Crewe greatly improved in the second half and had chances to go ahead with Brad Inman having a shot blocked and the Leyton Orient goalkeeper saving well to deny both Moore and Mark Ellis.
It wasn’t as though Steve Phillips wasn’t kept buy either and he did well to push a Lee Cook free-kick behind for a corner and he had to rely on Matt Tootle to smuggle one from the line.
With the club electing not to extend the loan spell of Lauri Dalle Valle, the door re-opened for young Max Clayton to re-stake his claim for a more regular place. Clayton returned to the starting line—up to partner Mathias Pogba up front in a 4-4-2 formation.
The ever present defender Harry Davis travelled to the capital but wasn’t named in the starting line-up after suffering with flu during the week. Adam Dugdale returned to the starting line-up.
After having a rest last weekend, midfielder Brad Inman returned to the starting line-up for Chuks Aneke.
Crewe Alexandra started brightly enough at Brisbane Road with Inman producing an early cross that was claimed confidently by the Leyton Orient goalkeeper Jamie Jones.
The home goalkeeper was also called upon by early to rush out and claim a clever flick from Clayton that nearly invited Moore in on goal.
The recalled Dugdale showed some real pace to recover against Orient’s new signing Charlie MacDonald after he had tried to play the former MK Dons striker offside. Moments later, Matt Tootle did equally as well up against tricky winger Dean Cox.
On 10 minutes, David Mooney rolled away from Mark Ellis to race in on Steve Phillips’ goal. The Alex goalkeeper stood tall in the left hand channel to save his first shot and Mooney dragged his follow up into the side netting. With Orient piling on the pressure, Ellis did much better to cut out a dangerous looking cross destined for MacDonald.
From the resulting corner, Crewe rushed to the long ball, and didn’t set well enough when it was headed back into a crowded penalty area, but Mooney could only direct his close range header against the crossbar and Tootle completed the clearance.
A couple of minutes later, Ellis misjudged a long ball over his head and MacDonald was through on goal again, but his drilled show remarkably hit the foot of the post and bounced clear. Orient should really have been in front and Crewe needed to settle down and quickly, especially in their defending.
Luke Murphy used his experience and leadership to retain possession a bit more for the Railwaymen with Pogba having a shot on the turn blocked.
Crewe’s goal was living a charmed life and Phillips had to stay alert again to dive onto a low cross from full-back Moses Odubajo that would have given Cox a tap-in at the far post.
Russell Slade’s side thoroughly deserved the lead on 26 minutes when Cox again tested Phillips with a lofted cross-come-shot and the Alex keeper could only palm it downwards and Lee Cook confidently took it down on his chest and planted into the roof of our net.
Crewe did have a period of keeping the ball but genuine chances were few and far between for Pogba and Clayton. The Orient goalkeeper must have been getting cold due to the lack of inactivity inside his penalty area!
Five minutes before the interval, Crewe Alexandra’s captain Luke Murphy produced a moment of pure quality to provide a superb cross that invited Bryon Moore to side foot the Railwaymen level from within the six yard box. It had been our first shot on target.
That equalising goal from Moore, his third of the season, gave Crewe a confidence injection and Pogba was just about foiled at the far post again as he tried to reach another splendid delivery, this time from full-back Tootle.
After defending for large periods of the first half, Crewe didn’t really want the half time whistle as we were now on the front foot and forcing corners. The half ended with Moore firing another shot into the midriff of Jamie Jones from 25 yards out.
Crewe started the second period in a confident mood with Abdul Osman providing a deep cross that found an advanced Murphy, whose header back across goal was volleyed over by Pogba.
At the other end, Tootle cleared a dangerous looking cross from Cook away from our penalty area.
The game became a bit of a midfield battle with the ball in the air more than we would have liked. It soon settled down though. A swift move from the home side did draw a tip over from Phillips from Mooney and the Crewe defence just about managed to scramble the corner away at a third attempt.
Clayton was caught by the Orient defender Scott Cuthbert as he tried to make inroads down the right hand side and it was no surprise when he was booked for his untidy challenge.
After Moore was also fouled, Murphy’s free-kick was flicked goal wards by Kelvin Mellor, but the well positioned Jones claimed it on his line.
The quality from the Railwaymen was much better in the second half. Both teams were working hard to try and recapture possession and mount attacks. There was some really good passing and movement with just that final pass or cross lacking.
Moore did produce a telling cross via a free-kick and the advanced Ellis stooped to head goalwards that Jones just about scrambled behind for a corner. Crewe were enjoying more of the ball and looking a threat.
A superb move involving the influential Moore saw him nip past two tackles on the edge of the Orient box and slide Pogba into the left hand channel. Pogba cleverly switched his low cross back to Moore, but his side footed shot was straight at the busier Jones.
Crewe were looking more solid at the back, with Mellor clearing a dangerous looking cross from Cox and Tootle equally efficient in his defensive duties.
Tootle then showed the quality in attack by racing onto a back heal from Pogba. His low cross took a deflection to loop up invitingly for Inman to strike and he was unfortunate to see it blocked by the back of Mathieu Baudry.
An unfortunate slip from Pogba allowed Orient to mount an attack but Cox could only flash his shot wide of the mark. Phillips was untroubled.
Dugdale was booked for a late challenge on MacDonald after he had got his shot off and from the resulting free-kick; Cook forced a good save from Phillips, who had to push it behind for a corner.
From the resulting corner, the excellent Tootle was there again to clear a header from the line from Baudry. Phillips had been beaten but his covering full-back was well placed to clear from behind him.
With the time running out for winner, Steve Davis introduced the fresh legs of Ryan Colclough for the hard working Clayton and he had a late dribble and shot that Jamie Jones was behind to save.