Crewe Alexandra’s disappointing away form this season continued with a heavy defeat at Swindon Town. Mark Cooper’s side inflicted a 5-0 defeat on Crewe Alexandra with midfielder Ryan Mason grabbing a second half hat-trick after Nile Ranger and another from Massimo Luongo had put the home side 2-0 up at the interval.
Defensive frailties were exposed again and as an attacking force, Crewe struggled to get Max Clayton into the game and hardly forced Wes Foderingham into a save all afternoon. Only a missed penalty from man of the match Mason in stoppage time prevented a sixth goal.
Steve Davis made two changes from the side that lost 2-0 at Leyton Orient last weekend with Mark Ellis and Brad Inman starting their first games of the season in place of George Ray and Vadaine Oliver. The introduction of Inman on the left hand side of midfield resulted in Max Clayton moving to a more familiar central role with Chuks Aneke supporting Clayton and the two wider players.
In contrast to last weekend in East London, the match kicked off at the County Ground in bright sunshine. Both sides quickly tried to get the ball down and play a passing game on an excellent surface but the former Newcastle United striker Nile Ranger won a couple of early flick ons in the air.
The first half chance of the afternoon saw Alex Pritchard fire harmlessly over the crossbar from the edge of the Crewe penalty area. Matt Tootle did exceedingly well to also clear a dangerous looking cross coming over from full-back Nathan Bryne.
A positive start from the Railwaymen saw Chuks Aneke over-hit a free-kick into the gloves of Wes Foderingham with Harry Davis lurking at the far post for any slip and then Aneke should have done better with a pass out to Inman as Crewe looked to get in behind the Swindon back line.
Crewe certainly made a more solid start to the game and neither goalkeeper was troubled in the first 20 minutes, although Swindon forced a number of corners. Centre half Massimo Luongo tried an acrobatic effort that was easily gathered by Alan Martin before a better touch from Max Clayton in the Swindon penalty area from Colclough’s pass would have given him a sight at the home side’s goal.
An encouraging burst from Inman saw him shake off the intentions of Bryne and cut in from his wide left position but his low shot was blocked by the covering Jay McEveley. Just moments later, Ranger skipped around a grounded Ellis to race through on goal but a retreating Tootle did enough to put the lanky striker off and the ball ran through to Martin. The home supporters felt Tootle had placed on his hands on Ranger and given him a little shove, but Ranger had already over run the ball and in fairness he didn’t complain too much himself.
The game began to open up and when Martin rushed a clearance, Swindon quickly came back at the Crewe back line. Martin had surrendered possession too easily trying to find an isolated Max Clayton with a drop kick up field and after Yaser Kasim unlocked the Crewe defence with a simple through ball, Ranger calmly tucked his finish beyond the Alex goalkeeper on 34 minutes.
Crewe nearly drew level five minutes later, when Aneke slipped Clayton in but the young striker cut back in onto this left foot and the ball was pinched from him by Darren Ward. The loose ball broke to Aneke 20 yards out, but his placed shot on target was again blocked.
Swindon doubled their advantage just before half time and in rather strange circumstances, as Luongo’s cross from the Crewe right, looped over a stranded Alan Martin and dipped in at the far post. It was a touch of good fortune for Mark Cooper’s side and Crewe, once again, on the road this season, needed a rousing second half performance.
Before the interval, McEveley was booked for a trip on Colclough and from the resulting free-kick delivered from Tootle, Mellor headed centrally into the gloves of Foderingham.
The home side were quick out of the blocks in the second half. Full-back Nathan Thompson cut in to unleash a powerful shot that Martin did well to get a strong hand on to it and Crewe could have broken up the pitch with Aneke. The on-loan Arsenal starlet dallied in possession and nearly lost it, but he reacted quickly enough to find Mellor. The full-back then hesitated and had the ball pinched from him by an alert Ryan Mason, who are playing a neat one-two with Pritchard, he confidently slotted home a third.
It was turning into a disastrous afternoon in Wiltshire and it got worse when Ellis allowed Ranger to get the wrong side of him and the Swindon striker got his reward for chasing down a back pass to nip ahead of Alan Martin. Ranger took it past the Crewe goalkeeper and he could have no complaints when a penalty was awarded for the trip. Martin was booked, as there was cover on the line. Mason stepped up to score his second goal in nine minutes.
Crewe were struggling to force the Swindon goalkeeper Foderingham into any meaningful saves. Pritchard was booked for a trip on Colclough close to the touchline. Inman, who was comfortably our liveliest attacker did force Foderingham into some action before Swindon made a double change with Byrne and Luongo making way for Nicky Ajose and Ryan Harley.
Swindon went 5-0 up with Mason completing his hat-trick far too easily, stealing in to turn home a Pritchard cross from close range. Steve Davis instantly made a trio of changes with Inman, Aneke and Mellor making way for Gregor Robertson, AJ Leitch-Smith and Lee Molyneux. Inman swung over an early cross before Leitch-Smith forced a smart save from Foderingham after he raced onto a pass from Colclough.
Martin was kept busy again to save from Mason and Nile Ranger couldn't quite direct a header on target. A diving McEveley was then just about put off enough by Abdul Osman at the far post, as Swindon went in search of a sixth goal. Crewe were after the final whistle. Swindon made their last change of the afternoon with Louis Thompson replacing Kasim.
In the closing stages, Grant did well to block a shot from Pritchard but again the ball bounced around in the Crewe box and we struggled to get it away properly. It was the story of the afternoon.
The frustration got the better of Colclough, who was booked for a clash with Thompson, and Robertson did well to drag the winger away from any further discipline. Molyneux was also booked for a rash challenge in stoppage time, on what proved to be a very frustrating and disappointing day in Wiltshire.
To rub salt in the wounds, Ellis tripped Thompson for another penalty in injury time but on this occasion, Mason saw his spot kick superbly saved by Martin to prevent a sixth goal.