Crewe: Garratt, Turton, Bakayogo, Davis, Guthrie, Ainley (Kirk, 61), Cooper, Jones, Hollands, Lowe (c) (Udoh, 70), Dagnall (Wintle, 77)
Unused Subs: Richards, Ray, Bingham, Ng
Goals: Cooper, 71
Attendance: 2,572 (192 Crewe)
It was an evening to forget for the Alex as they were well beaten at Adams Park.
After defending solidly throughout our game at Blackpool on Saturday, we produced our worst defensive display for a while to go down heavily to Gareth Ainsworth’s side.
Wycombe exposed our back-line far too easily to lead 3-0 at half-time and by an emphatic 5-1 scoreline by the final whistle. It was difficult to understand after such an assured start to the season.
Before Paris Cowan-Hall had headed home a second goal for the home side on 38 minutes, the Alex had arguably been the better side but we conceded far too cheaply with Sam Wood opening the scoring after dispatching a low cross from Paul Hayes.
A killer third goal from Dominic Gape ended the game as a contest just before the half time break and further goals from lively substitute Scott Kashket made it a horror night at the back for us. Wycombe got in behind our high-line far too easily this evening and it was completely the reverse of Saturday’s defensive display against Blackpool where the Seasiders had hardly threatened Ben Garratt's goal.
George Cooper was on target for the Alex with his 4th goal of the season after he tucked home from close range after a scramble inside the Wycombe box.
In the absence of the injured Alex Kiwomya, manager Steve Davis decided to swop his two youngsters around for the trip to Wycombe Wanderers. Callum Ainley replaced Charlie Kirk in the starting line-up. It was Ainley’s first league start of the season after previously starting and scoring in our 3-0 win at Accrington Stanley in the Checkatrade Trophy.
Callum Saunders and Ben Nugent were not quite fit enough to travel, so Dan Udoh and Perry Ng were both named on the substitutes’ bench.
The former Crewe defender Anthony Stewart started for the home side but our old nemesis Adebayo Akinfenwa started on the bench.
Wycombe tried to expose our high line by getting the ball forward as quickly as possible and in the opening minutes, Ben Garratt rushed from his line to head clear from danger as Paul Hayes tried to race on to a long ball through the centre of the Crewe defence.
In the 8th minute, the hard working Ryan Lowe didn’t give up the ghost as a back pass was rolled into the path of goalkeeper Jamal Blackman. Lowe got his body there and Blackman’s clearance cannoned off the Crewe striker and cleared the crossbar.
Wycombe worked hard to press and prevent us from playing our passing game, but slowly we got into the game and began to string a number of exchanges in the home side’s half of the pitch. So it was strange that it was the home side taking the lead inside the first 20 minutes.
On 19 minutes, Wycombe exposed our back-line with a route one approach. Following a flick on that by-passed our two centre-halves, Hayes broke clear of the Crewe defence. The covering Ollie Turton tried in vein to get across and block his low cross for the totally alone Sam Wood, who made no mistake from close range. He tucked it away past the helpless Ben Garratt.
Crewe tried to hit back almost immediately and the alert Blackman had to push away a dangerous delivery from Cooper from the right hand side. Cooper whipped over a dangerous looking cross towards the far post and no-one applied a touch until Blackman reacted. James Jones also had a drive blocked from the edge of the Wycombe penalty area.
On the half an hour mark, Ainley showed great technique to roll away from his man and get a shot of target with a well struck shot from 25 yards. The youngster’s effort was just too close to Blackman. From a Jones corner from the left, Guthrie rose highest to head into the gloves of the Wycombe goalkeeper.
The pressure continued from the Railwaymen and if Jones had looked left he could have played Ainley through on goal but he chose to go right and his pass was a little wide for Dagnall to chase down. It was much better from the visitors though as we went in search of an equaliser before the half-time interval.
On 38 minutes, Dagnall nearly provided that equaliser after we had won possession high up the pitch. The ball found Dagnall’s chest on the edge of the box and he fired a downward shot that Blackman again did superbly to palm it around the post. It was a terrific save.
A minute later, Wycombe, really against the run of play, doubled their advantage. Following a deep cross from Michael Harriman, a period of head tennis inside the Crewe penalty area, saw Hayes flick the ball into the six yard box and Paris Cowan-Hall headed a looping header over Garratt for 2-0.
Just when it seemed that Crewe were going to make our dominance count, it was Gareth Ainsworth’s side celebrating a goal that was cheap for us to concede.
It got worse for Crewe with two minutes of the half remaining. This time it was Dominic Gape racing through on the Alex goal after breaking through our high line. Gape was pursued by Bakayogo but kept his composure to slide it past Garratt, who had made it easier for the on-loan Southampton youngster by advancing from his goal line. After looking so solid on Saturday, we had produced our most disappointing defensive display of the season to somehow go in three goals behind at the interval.
In the opening minutes of the second half, Jon Guthrie prevented Garry Thompson from racing clear and possibly making it 4-0. The Crewe defender recovered to poke the ball back to Garratt to avert the danger.
Crewe desperately needed to score the next goal but we found it difficult to find that quality final ball into the forward players. Cooper went down under a challenge from Stewart but there was nothing in it and a penalty award would have been soft. At the other end, Cowan-Hall was booked for deliberately handling a cross towards our goal from a corner.
The first change of the night, saw Kirk replace Ainley on the hour mark. Cowan-Hall soon made way for Scott Kashket and it didn’t take him long to make his mark.
30 seconds after coming onto the field, the substitute broke through our rearguard and Garratt raced from his goal to try and halt the attacker. The fresh Kashket touched it past the Alex goalkeeper and placed it into the empty net for 4-0.
It was game over now and should have been damage limitation time for the Alex but on 69 minutes, the super sub Kashket made it 5-0. He reacted quickest to get a deflected shot on target after a firm shot from Wood had rocked the Crewe crossbar.
That prompted an instant substitution with Lowe being rested for Udoh. Crewe did score a consolation goal through Cooper following a melee inside the Wycombe penalty area. Blackman, who had not made many mistakes flapped at our free-kick and after Udoh’s shot was blocked, Cooper was on hand to tuck home his fourth goal of the season.
Before he was to be replaced by Nick Freeman, Hayes nearly got himself on the scoresheet but his attempted lob just about cleared the Alex crossbar.
The lively Kashket smelt a hat-trick but was denied superbly by Garratt. The Alex goalkeeper did well to get his fingertips on it and deny him the matchball.
Wycombe introduced Matty Bloomfield for Thompson for the final 15 minutes and Wintle was given some game time in place of Dagnall. It was Wintle’s first appearance of the season.
Crewe really wanted the final whistle to signify our second league defeat of the season. The players will be aiming to erase this evening as soon as possible with Mansfield arriving in South Cheshire on Saturday.
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