Crewe Alexandra had another bad day in League One as Notts County inflicted a 4-0 defeat on the Railwaymen. A first-half brace by Celtic loanee Callum McGregor and second-half goals from Danny Haynes and Marcus Haber condemned the Alex to a disappointing defeat at Meadow Lane.
It was another day to forget for Steve Davis' men who had plenty of chances in the game, but were made to pay for those misses by some clinical finishing from the home side.
Boss Steve Davis made four changes with returns to the side for the game Anthony Grant, Vadaine Oliver, Matt Tootle and Adam Dugdale, who was recalled from a loan deal at Tranmere Rover earlier in the
week, all starting the game.
It was the Alex who enjoyed the better of the opening minutes. They dominated early possession and on seven minutes had the first chance of the game, as Dugdale volleyed a Byron Moore free-kick wide of the goal.
After only 11 minutes, County were forced in to an early change as former Crewe loanee Alan Sheehan was replaced by Greg Tempest. That change took place after County had won a corner, and from that corner a dangerous delivery was headed inches wide of the Alex goal by Joss Labadie.
County, who lined up with attacking full-backs slowly began to come in to the game although for all their possession, they struggled to create clear-cut chance on the Alex goal. It was a real battle of tactical plans at Meadow Lane as Byron Moore reverted to a wide role after starting the game at the tip of the diamond in the Crewe midfield.
Max Clayton had two efforts on the County goal from distance within a minute as the game moved past 25 minutes. The first was well saved by County keeper Bartosz Bialkowski, while the second deflected over the bar.
On 30 minutes, the recalled Grant was booked for a heavy tackle on County sub Tempest. Minutes later Clayton had a great chance to put the Alex ahead, but volleyed a Oliver knock-down over.
The Alex were made to pay for that miss moments later. Good possession saw McGregor find space and the Celtic loanee drilled a low shot that found the bottom corner to give the home side the lead.
Moore had an effort from distance comfortably saved as the Alex looked to respond. On 40 minutes Clayton again had an effort saved as he linked up well with the powerful Oliver.
As it looked as though the Alex were getting back in to the game, County doubled their lead. After Moore could only part clear a long-ball, Mustapha Dumbuya found McGregor who jinked past his man and guided
the ball in to the bottom corner. That was the last action of the first half.
It was the Alex who made the brighter start to the second-half as Byron Moore corner eventually found Oliver who's effort just deflected over. From the resulting corner, Clayton failed to find a good connection after a Dugdale knock-down.
At the other end, McGregor missed a chance for a hat-trick as he blasted wide following some excellent linkup work from Danny Haynes. Minutes later a Tempest free-kick just went wide of the Alex goal.
Crewe desperately needed a goal to give them a lifeline in the game. Ellis headed a Matt Tootle cross wide, minutes later Oliver couldn't get a clean connection on another good delivery from the full-back.
On 65 minutes the game was over. County broke down the left and after Tempest crossed, Steve Phillips could only part clear and Haynes smashed in from close range to make it 3-0 to the home side. It was now only about pride for the Alex, and Vadaine Oliver nearly turned in a Grant shot as the Alex looked for a consolation. With 20 minutes remaining, Ryan Colclough replaced Clayton before Chuks Aneke replaced Grant.
Things went from bad to worse for the Alex as former Stevenage forward Marcus Haber headed home a cross from 12-yards. It was quickly turning in to another bad for the Alex, who had looked arguably the better of the two sides for much of the first-half.
That was the way the game ended as the Alex succumbed to their 5th away defeat of the season. They will certainly be looking for better as they make the trip to Fleetwood Town in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy on Tuesday night.