Crewe: Garratt, Turton, Davis, Guthrie, Bakayogo, Jones, Bingham, Kirk (Ainley, 66), Cooper (Kiwomya, 59), Lowe (c), Dagnall
Unused Subs: Richards, Ray, Nugent, Saunders, Udoh
Attendance: 4,742 (1,257)
Crewe Alexandra and Portsmouth played out a hard-fought 0-0 stalemate at Gresty Road to take a share of the spoils.
Both side’s defences were on the top of their game, not allowing the opposition any space or clear-cut chances – with Billy Bingham’s fierce 88th minute drive from distance the closest the Alex could come to breaking a stubborn Pompey down.
Crewe’s defence too stood up to the test, with Harry Davis and Jon Guthrie in-particular excelling at centre-half.
Crewe Manager Steve Davis reverted back to the same XI who dispatched of Stevenage on the opening day, changing three from the side who beat Sheffield United in the cup in midweek.
There was a jovial atmosphere inside Gresty Road from both sets of supporters before kick-off, and that continued during the early stages with both sides playing some attractive football.
Portsmouth attacked with plenty of purpose, getting in down the channels and crossing low but Ben Garratt, Jon Guthrie and Harry Davis were consistently on hand to clear the danger – with Garratt not forced to make a meaningful save.
At the other end, attacking opportunities were less forthcoming for Crewe, with a deflected Chris Dagnall header & Billy Bingham’s wayward long-ranger the closest efforts in the first 35 minutes.
On 40 minutes, Crewe captain Ryan Lowe tried an audacious half-volley from 45-yards that had David Forde in the Pompey goal scrambling, but it bounced wide.
Three minutes from the break Dagnall had Crewe’s best chance of the half, a half chance at best, taking a lofted ball onto his chest & firing wide of the near post when off balance.
Turton tried his luck from range as the half drew to a close, but it sailed way over and the sides retired at 0-0.
The Alex turned up the heat at the start of the second period, Dagnall coming close to breaking the deadlock in the opening minute, swivelling inside the box but failing to make enough of a connection to divert the ball towards goal.
Substitute Ainley was next to go close on 68 minutes, Pompey only half clearing a corner, Lowe chipped back in for Davis who laid off Ainley – but his shot was weak and was easily saved by Forde.
Pompey fought back and the traveling contingent thought they’d taken the lead on 81 minutes when sub Curtis Main rifled into the far corner, but the goal was correctly ruled out for a foul on Oli Turton.
With time running out, Bingham came close with a wonderful 22-yard drive on his trusty left-peg on 88 minutes, forcing Forde to fly to his left & beat away the drive.
That proved to be Crewe best and final opportunity of the afternoon with two good sides cancelling each other out with two good defensive displays.