Crewe Alexandra collected a point after a hard fought draw against Fleetwood Town at the Alexandra Stadium.
Overall a share of the points was probably a fair result but in the second half Crewe needed Ben Garratt to make two very good saves in the second half to deny David Ball and the striker also hit the post from close range after a goalmouth scramble.
Ryan Lowe gave Crewe a 5th minute lead with a smart finish into the bottom corner before Ball cancelled that goal out just five minutes later with a powerful drive that went into the roof of Garratt’s net. That is the way it remained with the point taking Crewe off the bottom of the League One table.
Steve Davis made one change to the side that lost in stoppage time to Doncaster Rovers last time out with the experienced David Fox coming in for Adam King. James Jones moved out to the right hand side with Ryan Colclough operating on the left.
Young goalkeeper Kieran Harrison was named on the substitutes’ bench after stand-in goalkeeper Danijel Nizic was ruled out with injured. Despite his first senior goal for the club at the Keepmoat Stadium, Callum Saunders was again named on the bench.
After a fairly frantic start to the proceedings, Crewe Alexandra took an early lead after just five minutes through veteran Ryan Lowe. After a long searching ball from Fox was no dealt with well enough by the Fleetwood defence, Haber made a nuisance of himself to force the loose ball to drop to Lowe and the 37-year-old guided his shot superbly into the bottom of Chis Maxwell post. It was Lowe’s second goal for the club since joining on loan from Bury and followed on from his stunning winner in the 3-2 win at Colchester.
Joe Davis, the son of Steve and the brother of Harry, made an early impression with a sliding tackle into Haber from which he was booked before his Fleetwood side equalised just five minutes after Lowe’s opener.
On 10 minutes, Crewe were a little sloppy in possession as they tried to make positive inroads into the Fleetwood half of the pitch and we were punished severely by David Ball. The striker was able to carry the ball an awful long way with Colclough in pursuit and he drilled a long range effort past Garratt and into the roof of the net. It looked as though the Alex stopper had got his hands to it and perhaps should have done a little better to keep it out. Ball’s opportunistic effort made it all square and both sides went on to enjoy spells of good possession.
The first half developed into a fairly even affair with both goalkeepers only really tested from distance. The Fleetwood right winger Amarii Bell drilled a dangerous cross right across the six-yard box before Crewe had an appeal for a handball and a penalty rejected after Bingham had pulled the back for Jones to strike. Crewe only got a corner from referee Madley.
A well worked short free-kick from Bingham found his midfield partner Fox on the edge of the box and his lofted shot was destined to drop into the top corner before Maxwell produced a moment of agility to push it away for a corner. Moments later Bingham fired in a snap shot from the edge of the box after Semi Ajayi had nodded down a free-kick into his direction.
Fleetwood certainly tried to play some good possession football themselves and it was a shame that the referee’s whistle disrupted the flow of the game. It resulted in the game becoming a bit scrappy and stop/start at times. Jimmy Ryan was booked for persistent fouling just before the half time interval. The impressive David Henen shot straight at Garratt just before the break and Crewe’s other half chance came from a route one move that saw Haber flicking on a long punt up field from Garratt. Lowe was onto in a flash and he instantly fired over the top of the crossbar.
There was still time for Lowe to test Maxwell again after he had been cleverly found by a solid Guthie. Lowe shaped to place his shot into the far corner but the Fleetwood goalkeeper was equal to it to get his fingertips to it.
Steven Pressley’s Fleetwood side certainly started the second half on the front foot as they looked to take the lead for the first time in the game. Ball struck a post from close range after a scramble in front of Garratt and Jones had to make a courageous block when the rebound was hit back by Ryan.
Garratt also made a fantastic save to deny David Ball after he went one on one with the Alex stopper after Jones was caught in possession. Ball tried to dink the ball over the Crewe number one but he stood firm to make the save and keep it level.
With Fleetwood on top, Steve Davis made a change with Bingham making way for Inman. The switch saw Jones move into his more natural position in the centre. The busy midfielder was called upon again to get a powerful shot from Nathan Pond from close to the line after another Fleetwood corner had caused us problems.
Inman’s first contribution saw him provided a superb cross that Ajayi rose highest to flick wide with his head. The on-loan Cardiff defender would have been disappointed not to have made the goalkeeper work after getting a decent contact on it.
Fleetwood freshened up their attack with young Nick Haughton and Jamie Proctor replacing Ball and Bobby Grant. Before he was replaced Colclough had a shot deflected over for a corner and Nugent headed towards the foot of the post after being found by Jones.
A tired Colclough made way for King with just over ten minutes left and in truth in the closing stages, Fleetwood looked the more likely side to nick the three points. Many inside Gresty Road certainly thought they had when the impressive Henen fired into the side netting in the closing minutes. From a certain angle it must have looked to have been another late winner against the Alex.