Crewe: Garratt, Turton, Guthrie (Bakayogo, 77), Nugent, Ray, Jones, Hollands, Cooke, Cooper (Ainley, 83), Dagnall (Kiwomya, 83), Bowery
Unused Subs: Richards, Wintle, Ng, Dale
Goals: Cooper (2, 25), Dagnall (16, 29), Cooke (87)
Attendance: 4,003 (740)
Crewe Alexandra recorded a league double over Grimsby to put us six points clear of the relegation zone.
Our best 45 minutes of the season saw us 4-0 ahead at the interval thanks to two goals apiece from George Cooper and Chris Dagnall and then the excellent Callum Cooke rounded off a perfect afternoon with his first goal in senior football with three minutes remaining.
It was thoroughly deserved victory and it could have been even more with the Grimsby goalkeeper James McKeown saving superbly to deny Jordan Bowery in the first half and man-of-the-match Cooper, in the second half when his attempted lob nearly cleared his head from the half way line. To be fair McKeown made a fantastic save to deny Cooper the goal of his career and the match ball.
Crewe Alexandra manager David Artell made one change to the team that were well beaten at Exeter City last weekend, with Chris Dagnall replacing Alex Kiwomya. With Charlie Kirk suspended following his red card at St James’ Park last week, there was a recall to the squad for youngster Owen Dale.
New loan signing Callum Cooke made his home debut after impressing in Devon last week.
The Grimsby boss Marcus Bignot received a warm reception on his return to Gresty Road and our former Academy youngster Chris Clements started after previously turning out here for Mansfield earlier in the season. A former trialist at the club, Jamey Osbourne, also started for the Mariners. He was close to earning himself a deal at Crewe back in the summer.
George Cooper gave the Railwaymen the perfect start with the opening goal inside two minutes. The powerful Cooke made a break from midfield to slip Cooper in behind the Grimsby back line and the 20-year-old kept his composure superbly well to slide his shot past James McKeown.
The Alex continued to press the opposition into errors and once we managed to pinch the ball back, we were quickly on the front foot again. Cooke shot wide from 25 yards before Cooper fired another effort into the floor after Cooke had chested a long ball from Turton back into his path.
Grimsby’s best half chances fell to the former Crewe trialist Osbourne. He shot straight at Garratt from distance and he forced the Crewe goalkeeper to push another effort out before it was cleared up field. The visitors also had Calum Dyson booked early on.
Crewe’s 4-3-3 formation was paying dividends and the second goal duly arrived on 16 minutes. Bowery did well to flick possession on and a determined Dagnall took one touch inside the box before he thumped a shot past McKeown for his first goal since October. Crewe had thoroughly deserved their early advantage but there was no resting on laurels.
Ben Nugent even tried to join in with the goal feast but his low shot from a corner just clear the far post and Bowery had a close range header well saved by the busy McKeown. The follow-up just didn’t fall into Cooke’s path or it could have been 3-0.
The third wasn’t long in coming though after Danny Hollands was tripped close to the Grimsby penalty area after he reached the ball first. Cooper stepped up and curled his shot past McKeown for his 8th goal of the campaign. It was a superb free-kick from the in-form youngster and Crewe and their supporters were really enjoying themselves.
It was 4-0 to the Railwaymen on the half an hour mark. Cooper was again involved and Bowery’s shot looked to be going into the far corner but Dagnall applied the final touch to make sure. After a barren spell by his standards, the hard working striker had scored two in a 13-minute spell.
At that point, a frustrated Bignot threatened to make a treble change but elected to do it at half time instead. Pearson was booked for bringing down the unplayable Cooper and from his free-kick delivery into a crowded penalty area Guthrie nearly applied a decisive touch at the far post.
Cooper in search of a hat-trick also had a shot pushed away by McKeown.
Before the end of what was a near perfect first half performance from the Railwaymen, Osbourne and Clements tried their luck with ambitious efforts but Garratt was equal to them all.
The unhappy Grimsby boss made three changes at the break with Danny Andrew, Dyson and Adi Yussuf making way for Sam Jones, Tom Bolarinwa and Akwasi Asante. It picked their performance up and Asante soon had a testing shot at Garratt.
With Crewe looking solid at the back with Ray and Nugent excellent, the whole team worked hard to keep a second clean-sheet under Artell. Grimsby had more possession than the first half but couldn’t conjure up genuine chances.
Cooper was booked for kicking the ball away for Crewe but he was soon involved in more attacking play. His pass into Bowery saw his his curling shot deflected inches wide of the target as the on-loan Orient striker went in search of his first goal for the club.
From the resulting corner, Ray flicked a header just wide and more sparking one touch stuff from the Alex saw Bowery and Cooke combine before Cooper shot straight at the Grimsby goalkeeper.
Tom Bolarinwa dragged a shot wide the Mariners and missed their best chance of the game when he wastefully blasted over from close range. Crewe restricted the visitors mainly to long range efforts.
Cooper then lit up the entire Stadium with a fantastic effort from close to the half way line. He spotted the Grimsby goalkeeper had strayed slightly from his line, and after flicking the ball up, his lob on the volley saw McKeown back pedal and in fairness make a terrific save to push it over his crossbar. It would have been some goal.
With time ticking away and Crewe looking comfortable, Artell made a change with Bakayogo replacing Guthrie. The left-back was soon thrown into the action when asked to make a fantastic clearance to deny Asante a goal. His challenge may have seen him injured in the process but he soon recovered to complete the game.
A double substitution saw Cooper and Dagnall earn a standing ovation and one of those replacements Ainley was superb. He was prepared to get on the ball and run at the opposition. He provided the late assist for Cooke’s first goal after showing some great composure as he entered the box, and his pull-back was dispatched superbly by the on-loan Boro player to complete a perfect afternoon.
View over 10 mins of extended highlights from the five star performance exclusively on Player HD below