Crewe Alexandra slipped to their second league defeat of the season away to the current league leaders in League One, Leyton Orient, but were guilty of being their own worst enemies in the first half. On a rain soaked surface in East London, the Alex conceded two first half penalties, one that was scored by David Mooney and one missed by Kevin Lisbie and on another day could have conceded a couple more.
Slow out of the blocks, Crewe found themselves a goal down after just six minutes with Man-of-the-Match winger Moses Odubajo getting in behind the Crewe back line to fire past Alan Martin.
As an attacking force, Crewe struggled in the first half but were much better in the second half, although chasing the game. The Leyton Orient goalkeeper was kept busy to deny Ryan Colclough in a one v one situation and then saved smartly to deny Chuks Aneke and Max Clayton. Crewe’s best efforts to get back into the game saw a deflected effort from Anthony Grant whistle just wide and Aneke hit the underside of the bar with the goalkeeper beaten.
With winger Byron Moore ruled out due to a reoccurrence of his quad injury, there was a return to the starting line-up for young Max Clayton. This week’s signing from Newcastle United, Bradden Inman did travel to London and was named on a strong substitutes’ bench alongside the likes of Lee Molyneux and AJ Leitch-Smith.
The match in East London began in a torrential downpour and it was the in-form Kevin Lisbie trying out the wet surface early on with a long range effort from 25 yards that whizzed past Alan Martin’s left hand post.
In the 5th minute, Alex defender George Ray survived a fair shout for a penalty after David Mooney nipped in front of him to steal the ball from his toes and was sent over. The referee Keith Shroud was unsighted and didn’t see the contact. If he had, he could have had an early decision to make to go with the others he later would give.
Crewe’s slow start to the proceeding in the Capital saw us fall behind just 60 seconds later when the pacey wide man Moses Odubajo stole in behind full-back Matt Tootle to powerfully drill his shot through Alan Martin in the Alex goal.
In an attempt to get themselves going as an attacking force, , Ryan Colclough and Matt Tootle had to force their way through a puddle of water for the Crewe full-back to have a shot that was blocked inside a crowded penalty area.
The rain continued to fall, and in certain areas of the pitch, the ball was beginning to hold up and players were sliding quite a distance. Martin allowed a low cross to slip through his gloves and Lisbie slid into the far post after some good defending from Ray to clear. The Leyton Orient striker needed treatment.
Orient midfielder Lloyd James was the first player to be booked after 20 minutes for as late challenge on Anthony Grant and that was always going to be a danger with the surface allowing players to slide into tackles. Ray pushed Lisbie into another slide inside the box, but the fall looked worse than it was because of the wet pitch and the referee and his assistant deemed it a fair coming together.
Tootle then made amends for his loose clearance by blocking a shot from the goalscorer Odubajo but from the resultant corner, Orient were awarded a penalty when Chuks Aneke was adjudged to have held Lisbie as the ball was swung into the crowd box. Aneke was booked and after pulling himself up, the in-form Lisbie dragged his poor spot kick wide of the mark.
Amazingly, they didn’t have to wait too long for another chance from the penalty spot when Ray slid into the back of Dean Cox. In these conditions, staying on your feet was imperative, and after changing the spot kick taker, Mooney made no mistake this time, drilling past a diving Martin in the 37th minute.
Crewe were struggling to muster any real threat on Jamie Jones’ goal. Our first real opportunity of the first half came a minute before the half-time interval that we so desperately needed. Colclough managed to retain possession and carry it across the Leyton Orient 18-yard box to allow Aneke to curl a shot wide of the target.
Orient thought they should have had a hat-trick of first half penalties when from a James free-kick, their captain Nathan Clarke appealed that he had been pushed in the back by our own captain Osman, but the referee wasn’t interested. Crewe needed the half-time break.
Crewe started a lot better in the second half and after a Tootle free-kick was cleared, the Alex went on to force a succession of corners after Vadaine Oliver’s shot was blocked for the first one. A couple of scrambles occurred in front of Jamie James, but nothing fell for us to provide an early passage back into the match.
Martin was relieved at the other end, when we allowed another low cross to slip from his gloves but Lisbie could only stir it into the side netting. It was the same moments later for the hard working Grant when his back pass looked to have caught out Martin, but the Crewe goalkeeper was able to rush back and clear.
Some good approach play from Max Clayton again gave Aneke a sight at goal but his shot from the edge of the box was always rising over. Crewe were certainly enjoying their best spell of the game, and Aneke turned provider to find Colclough inside a crowded penalty area, and his shot was deflected up and over Jones’ crossbar for another corner. With Orient trying desperately to keep Crewe at bay, a busy Clayton had a shot dragged wide. The next goal was all-important.
A limping Odubajo made way for Johnny Gorman on 65 minutes. Moments later, Colclough cleverly intercepted possession from Scott Cuthbert and race through on goal. Colclough’s chance to give Crewe a clear lifeline was saved by an alert Jamie Jones.
Inman then came on to warm applause from the travelling Crewe fans for Oliver before Martin kept us in the match with a fine reaction save to deny Mooney from close range.
Grant was extremely unlucky to see his well struck shot from 25 yards out, take a wicked deflected and skid out of play. If it had been on target then Jones would not have stood a chance to keep it out.
Jones was certainly the busier of the two goalkeepers in the second half, making a smart save to prevent a header from Aneke creeping it at the far post and then he did well to hold onto a low drive from Colclough.
Orient made another change with the robust Marvin Bartley replacing the tiring Lloyd James.
More good play from Abdul Osman saw him pick out Aneke from a right wing cross and his downward header had to be superbly tipped over the bar by the agile Jamie Jones. Crewe just needed that goal to put some real anxiety under the current league leaders.
Moments later, when Aneke’s powerful shot hit the underside of the bar and bounced clear of the danger zone you sensed it was not going to be our day in the capital city.
With the minutes ticking away, Lisbie headed a Dean Cox free-kick straight at a well positioned Martin. The Crewe players were also relieved to see our captain get up after an awful challenge from Romain Vincelot that incensed the players. He was booked for the offence. As a precaution Osman did make way for Turton.
Lee Molyneux was also hand a debut at left-back for Mellor with a few minutes remaining but couldn’t find that goal to create a grandstand finish.