Both sides were desperate for three points in the quest to remain in League One but 90 frantic minutes couldn’t decide a winner as it ended 1-1 at Gresty Road.
Lauri Dalla Valle gave Crewe a dream start after just 10 minutes when he was in the right place to slot home a low cross from Greg Leigh, but in an almost carbon copy of our goal, Marvin Bartley crossed from the right hand side and Darius Henderson volleyed home past Paul Rachubka on the half an hour mark to draw Leyton Orient level.
In fairness, Leyton Orient certainly created the better of the chances in the second half with Rachubka making a stunning save to deny danger man Chris Dagnall and Henderson missed his kick with the goal at his mercy.
Crewe, who had lost the injured Jamie Ness at half time and Chris Atkinson early in the second half, had to put an almighty shift in with youngsters Liam Nolan and James Jones having to operate in central midfield in an unfamiliar 4-2-3-1 with Uche Ikpeazu replacing the injured Atkinson.
The elements were against us, we had to ride our luck at times with Rachubka deservedly winning the Man-of-the-Match award for a string of important saves. Sometimes the quality wasn’t there in a battle but no-one could fault their effort.
Crewe Alexandra boss Steve Davis went with a different approach for the visit of Leyton Orient this afternoon. Davis went with three smaller type forwards than with a target man. The tactical change saw Ryan Colclough make his first start since October 2013 with Uche Ikpeazu starting on the substitutes’ bench. Marcus Haber and Nicky Ajose were also named as a possible second half alternative.
Colclough operated in a front three alongside Lauri Dalla Valle and Bradden Inman. Colclough was soon on the front foot and he fired straight at Alex Cisak after combining well with Inman.
On an early counter attack, younger Ryan Hedges embarked on a forceful run and Harry Davis did exceedingly well to shepherd Darius Henderson out of play and avoid the ensuing danger.
Dalla Valle gave Crewe a dream start after just ten minutes following a superbly worked move from a free kick. Alan Tate took it short, instead of guiding into a crowded box, to find James Jones and his superb pass released the overlapping Leigh into space down the left hand side. His low cross was perfect to miss out Cisak and there was the Finnish striker to tap home.
Minutes later a bright start from the Alex saw Ollie Turton latch onto a bouncing ball and Colclough shot over the crossbar.
The visitors were always a threat with the height of Henderson, the movement of Dagnall and the wing play of Jobi McAnuff. The influential Josh Wright also provided some superb crosses that had to be dealt with. McAnuff volleyed into the arms of Rachubka before the O’s hit back on 30 minutes.
Marvin Bartley conjured up an accurate delivery into the penalty area from the Crewe left hand side and Henderson stole in behind Turton to volley past Rachubka. The Alex goalkeeper had no chance.
Ness was superb for Crewe Alexandra in the centre of the park before he picked up a knock and had to be replaced at the interval.
Leyton Orient finished the first half strongly with Bartlett not connecting right with one chance and Dagnall shooting into the chest of the busy Crewe goalkeeper.
With two minutes of the first half remaining, Colclough and Inman combined well again and Coco pulled a shot wide.
Fabio Laverni’s side came out in the second half and took the game to the Alex. Harry Davis was called upon early to deny Dagnall a clear run at Rachubka’s goal before Atkinson was forced off with an injured after 50 minutes. He had to be replaced by Ikpeazu and Crewe were short on midfield numbers, so had to operate with youngsters Nolan and Jones in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
It became a back-against-the-wall job for a period with Orient rather unfortunate not to score as they dominated the early exchanges of the second half. Tate was booked for a foul on McAnuff.
A deep free-kick from Wright, dropped invitingly into the path of defender Mathieu Baudry but he didn’t connect with his shot powerfully enough to trouble Rachubka. The Alex goalkeeper also had to jump in front of Dagnall as the ball bounced around the box.
Davis then had to head out a really dangerous cross from Wright before McAnuff fired over after being found by the lively Dagnall.
Henderson had a great chance to put Leyton Orient ahead after Dagnall had nodded a Wright cross into the big man’s path but he didn’t connect right with his close range volley and Rachubka collected comfortably. It was a major let off.
The Alex goalkeeper then produced a stunning save to deny Dagnall one-on-one after being played in behind. The Crewe back line appealed for offside but the flag remained down and you would have backed the prolific Dagnall to finish the opportunity, but his powerful shot was tipped over by the Crewe stopper and Crewe had again survived.
Inman threatened to launch a dangerous counter-attack but was felled by McAnuff, who was booked.
After weathering that consistent storm of Orient chances, Crewe began to get a foothold in the game again. Colclough twisted and turned and saw his curling shot pushed away for a corner. Tate was booked for a lunging tackle on McAnuff.
The former Reading and Crystal Palace winger was a constant threat down the left flank and he forced Rachubka into another save, he sprung out to collect the rebound off his own body.
With ten minutes left, Ajose replaced Inman and Crewe finished quite strongly without really conjuring up a really good chance. James Jones, off balance, fired wide of the target before Ikpeazu tried to bundle his way through. A late Turton cross also hit the big Crewe striker and ran through harmlessly through to Cisak.
In stoppage time and with Crewe trying to find a late winner, Nolan poked the ball out to Lauri Dalla Valle but his shot was blocked from just inside the Orient penalty area.