Crewe: Garratt, Turton, Davis, Guthrie, Bakayogo, Hollands, Bingham (Jones, 58), Cooper, Lowery (Kiwomya, 58), Lowe (c), Dagnall
Unused Subs: Richards, Nugent, Ng, Ainley, Udoh
Goals: Kiwomya (81)
Attendance: 8,012 (496 Crewe)
Alex Kiwoyma marked his return from a recent shoulder injury to hit an equaliser for Crewe Alexandra at Meadow Lane.
The on-loan Chelsea winger replaced Tom Lowery just after the hour mark and he finished off a fine run from George Cooper to draw the Railwaymen level just 60 seconds after Jonathan Forte had given the home side the lead in a really tight affair.
Crewe will rightly feel aggrieved though that we didn't collect all three points because Harry Davis had appeared to have headed us into the lead from a corner. The ball certainly looked to have crossed the line before the Notts County goalkeeper Adam Collin could scramble it back across. The officials failed to spot it and Crewe were left to rue our bad luck.
Crewe Alexandra boss Steve Davis made one change from the side that drew 1-1 at Luton last weekend. The second half performance of youngster Tom Lowery at Kenilworth Road saw him rewarded with his full debut at Notts County. Lowery got the manager’s vote of confidence ahead of the fit-again Alex Kiwomya and Academy graduates Callum Ainley and Charlie Kirk. Kiwomya’s performance for the Development Squad at Coventry City on Monday saw him return to the squad as a substitute. With virtually a full squad to choose from, both Kirk and Ryan Wintle did not travel. Midfielder James Jones returned from International duty with Scotland Under-21s but he had to settle for a place on the bench.
John Sheridan’s Notts County side included our former captain Matt Tootle in centre midfield and defender Thierry Audel. Vadaine Oliver and Michael O’Connor were not included due to injury.
Crewe made a forceful start to the game and had the final ball been a little more accurate, the likes of Lowe and Dagnall could have been behind the Notts County back line fairly early on.
The home side were looking to get the ball forward as quickly as possible to their key man, Jon Stead but Guthrie and Davis often nipped ahead of the veteran striker to head up field. It was an intriguing physical battle. In fact Stead has to be alert to prevent Guthrie from connecting with a corner from the Crewe left and a succession of corners also saw Lowe had a firm shot blocked.
In roles reverse, Guthrie had to poke the ball away for a corner before it reached Stead after some good approach play from the lively Adam Campbell inside the Crewe penalty area.
It was certainly defences on top in the opening 20 minutes with neither side creating a clear cut chance but Crewe were playing some attractive one touch passing.
It was an evenly poised game with both sides eager to pass the ball but neither goalkeeper was being tested regularly. Garratt had a couple of straight forward crosses to collect and he punched a Tootle cross away from danger. That final penetrative pass was missing and that is why Cooper tried to his luck from over 30 yards out but it wasn’t on target to call Adam Collin into some meaningful action.
After Billy Bingham was bandaged up for a head cut, a deep free-kick delivery from Cooper found Guthrie at the far post but his downward header was too close to Collin and it was an easy collect for the Notts County goalkeeper.
Just before the half time interval, Stead met a cross from Jonathan Forte but under pressure from Guthrie his connection flew wide of the mark.
Stead, who had fallen on awkwardly on his ankle towards the end of the half, didn’t re-appear for the second half and had to be replaced by Aaron Collins. The Notts County substitute had the first genuine chance of the afternoon after he turned onto a loose ball inside the box and Garratt had to save with his legs. Lowery read the situation superbly well to clear the loose ball for a corner before Alex Rodman could apply a touch into the unguarded net.
Crewe’s first attempt on target saw Cooper again involved but his shot was too straight at the Notts County goalkeeper.
After a Rodwell cross had passed everyone inside a crowded penalty area, Steve Davis decided to make a double change just before the hour mark with Jones and Kiwomya replacing Bingham and Lowery.
Collins was proving a handful and he caused some panic in the Alex defence when he beat Garratt and Guthrie to a long ball through the middle but the Alex goalkeeper did enough to rush out and force him wide and away from his goal. Moments later he lifted a shot over the Crewe crossbar.
Sheridan’s second substitute saw Rodman make way for Genaro Snijders with just over 20 minutes remaining. The introduction of the winger gave the home crowd a lift vocal wise.
On 73 minutes, Crewe thought they had broken the deadlock when Davis stooped to meet a corner from Cooper. His header certainly appeared to have crossed the line before goalkeeper Collin had scooped it back across and the Crewe players were just waiting for the officials to confirm but the assistant kept his flag down and referee Lee Probert didn’t see it either! Crewe were understandably aggrieved.
Notts County soon had a good chance of their own from a corner but Campbell failed to keep his shot down from a good position in front of Garratt’s goal.
It continued to be end-to-end but the game was crying out for that moment of quality to unlock the stubborn defences. Campbell finally produced it with 10 minutes remaining. His cross to the far post found Forte and his decisive tough took his ahead of Turton and he calmly finished into the bottom corner via the post. It was on harsh on the Alex who hadn’t looked threatened all afternoon.
Steve Davis has spoken readily about the character of his team this season and it didn’t take the Railwaymen long at all to hit back. Cooper drew defenders to him with a stunning break towards the Notts County box and after evading Duffy he slipped the ball through to Kiwomya and the on-loan Chelsea youngster calmly slotted it beyond Collin for his fifth goal of the season. It was an instant response from the Alex and Kiwomya had registered his return with another goal for the collection.
Both sides aimed to win the game, with Cooper curling a shot into the gloves of Collin and Snijders volleying a good effort over the top at the far post. Notts County arguably finished the stronger but Crewe were always a threat on the break but we just couldn't find that genuine chance to perhaps sneak the three points.
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