Crewe: Garratt, Turton, Bakayogo, Guthrie, Davis (Ray), Hollands, Jones, Cooper (Kirk), Kiwomya, Dagnall, Lowe (Ainley)
Subs not used: Richards, Bingham, Saunders, Nugent,
Crewe Alexandra recorded their third win of the season with a 2-0 win over Exeter City at the Alexandra Stadium. Following back-to-back home wins the Railwaymen move into 6th position in the League Two table.
The red hot Alex Kiwomya put the personal disappointment of missing out on the League Two Player Of The Month award by netting his fourth goal of season after racing through on to a fantastic through ball from George Cooper. Kiwomya showed great composure in a one-on-one situation to give Crewe the lead on 22 minutes.
Midfielder Danny Hollands added a killer second goal three minutes from time after he ran through onto a pass from Chris Dagnall. It was his first goal for the club as Hollands became the 9th different Crewe player to score this season.
The former Crewe winger Joel Grant started for the Grecians on his return to Gresty Road. Exeter’s 15 year-old Ethan Ampadu was named on the substitutes’ bench for the visitors.
Steve Davis had the luxury of naming an unchanged team for the visit of Paul Tisdale’s Exeter City side. The Alex boss continued to partner the experienced Danny Hollands and last week’s match winner against Doncaster Rovers, James Jones in midfield. Billy Bingham was once again named on the substitutes’ bench for the first meeting between the two sides for over 25 years. Ryan Lowe captained the side.
Tisdale’s Exeter City side certainly came to South Cheshire to play some attractive football too and their best early chance fell to Robbie Simpson in the 10th minute when he went one on one with Ben Garratt but the Crewe stopper stood up to push his effort away.
The former Alex man, Grant was then stopped in his tracks by Harry Davis as he glided past a couple of challenges. Crewe were a bit lapse in possession and were giving the ball the away to the opposition too easily for Steve Davis’ liking.
Crewe were a threat on the counter attack though with George Cooper dragging a shot wide and then having another effort blocked after good work from Kiwomya and Lowe out on the left wing. Cooper’s side footed shot was blocked.
On 22 minutes, the Alex unlocked the Exeter defence with Cooper hitting a splendid pass through to the quick footed Kiwoyma. The on-loan Chelsea youngster raced through on Bobby Olejnik’s goal and showed great composure to drill home his fourth goal of the campaign into the bottom corner.
Jack Stacey was booked for a foul on Kiwomya as Crewe went in search of a second goal but the tidy visitors continued to provide a threat at the other end. Ryan Harley shot into the side netting and Grant then had the ball taken from his toes by the covering Bakayogo inside the box.
Jake Taylor volleyed just wide of the mark after Harley had reached the by-line to provide an accurate cross.
On 35 minutes, Crewe must have thought they were going to double their advantage when Dagnall pounced on a defensive slip to race onto the ball and rounded the Exeter goalkeeper Olejnik but he couldn’t steer his shot into the empty net. It bounced agonisingly wide of the far post.
The influential Cooper nearly found Dagnall with another excellent through ball and midfielder James Jones nearly slipped the willing runner in behind the defensive line.
Exeter’s 20 year-old Watkins curled a great effort just wide after the robust Simpson won a header inside the Crewe penalty area and the same player nearly got away from Harry Davis in the final minute of the half but the centre-half pulled him back to earn himself a booking.
Some promising early play from Cooper saw his low cross blocked for a corner but at the other end James Jones blocked a dangerous cross from Watkins from reaching Simpson.
Both sides had penalty appeals turned down for handball before Jack Stacey chipped delightful shot against the Crewe crossbar. Exeter began the second half by piling on some real pressure on the Crewe goal but we were standing firm and other than a fine save from Garratt in pushing a shot away from Harley, the Alex stopper didn’t have too many genuine saves to make.
Just after the hour mark, Steve Davis made a double substitution with Davis and Lowe being replaced by Callum Ainley and George Ray. Ainley operated behind the hard working Dagnall.
Crewe had a scare when our former player Grant seemed to block a shot from his own player Harley on the line.
Dagnall deserved a goal from his persistence and he cracked the Exeter City crossbar after being fed by Kiwomya. His shot hit the angle of post and crossbar. He was extremely unlucky.
A snap shot from Simpson after the ball had dropped invitingly at his feet should have ended up in the Crewe net but he put it wide and no-one could quite believe it.
Crewe continued to be a threat looking for that second goal that would seal the points. Ray had a header from a corner tipped over and Ainley nearly bundled his way through.
The decisive second goal came with three minutes left on the clock. Dagnall lifted a ball over to the onrushing Hollands and the experienced midfielder poked his shot past Olejnik to seal three great points for the Alex.
We had to survive a late shot from Watkins and a couple of corners in the last few minutes to also claim that clean-sheet.
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