Kirk double including amazing lob from matchwinner Kirk for the winner sees Crewe fight back fom 3-1 down.
Crewe: Jaaskelainen, Ng (c), Nolan, Hunt, Jones (Finney, 74), Ainley (Dale, 66), Wintle, Lowery, Green (Taylor-Sinclair, 85), Kirk, Porter
Unused Subs: Garratt, Sass-Davies, Miller, Reilly
Goals: Porter (19), OG (63), Kirk (87, 89)
Crewe Alexandra showed tremendous character once again to fight back from 3-1 down to stage a remarkable win. Charlie Kirk was our outstanding match winner, scoring twice and forcing Joe Mills into an own goal. Crewe won 4-3 with Kirk scored a stunning lob over a stranded James Montgomery to win an outstanding final home game for the Railwaymen.
Crewe had taken the lead after just 19 minutes with Chris Porter flicking home a Paul Green cross but we found ourselves 3-1 behind just minutes into the second half as the visitors hit back through goals by Reece Brown, Junior Mondal and Christian Doidge.
This Crewe side never knows when they are beaten though and we recorded our fourth straight win for the first time this season thanks to the Kirk late show. It was a remarkable comeback from the lads to see us seal our 15th home win of the season – the best in League Two.
David Artell named the same starting XI that won at Swindon on Monday for the visit of Forest Green Rovers. Young goalkeeper Will Jaaskelainen retained his place as the manager again handed him game experience in place of Ben Garratt.
The Alex bench included a fit-again Aaron Taylor-Sinclair. The left-back returned to training this week after overcoming a thigh injury.
With Forest Green Rovers still with a chance of finishing in one of the automatic promotion places and Crewe having an outside chance of the play-offs, there was still plenty riding on the game.
As expected, Mark Cooper’s side like to play the right way and both sides got the ball down and passed it in difficult circumstances. Both goalkeepers had to play with the ball at his feet because of the quality of the game and it was a very tactical game. Both teams settled into an early rhythm of passing with just that final ball missing in the early exchanges.
The conditions made things difficult with the incessant rain and swirling wind but credit to both sides because it remained a real football match. Chances were limited as both team sparred for position early on.
Forest Green Rovers conjured up the first half chance with the former Port Vale man Gavin Gunning shooting just wide from distance. His effort had Will Jaaskelainen scrambling across his goal to make sure it went wide.
The visitors were well organised but Crewe broke the deadlock after 19 minutes. It was a terrific opening goal as well with Tom Lowery bursting from midfield and evading the presence of Gunning to find Green inside the box. The midfielder pulled it back, behind Porter but he cleverly flicked it home past James Montgomery for his 15th goal of the season. It was a wonderful finish.
More good build up play from Crewe saw Hunt find Kirk and his cross nearly found Porter again.
Lowery did have the ball in the net with a finish off the underside of the crossbar but Porter was penalised for a foul on Montgomery as they both went for it.
Forest Green tried to hit back and a deep cross from Shepard had to collected by an alert Jaaskelainen before Christian Doidge stuck out a leg.
On the half an hour mark, Ng, still looking for his first goal of the season twisted back inside the box and his shot whistled just wide of the target.
Six minutes later, the visitors equalised after a flowing move. Forest Green opened up Crewe for the first time in the afternoon and Reece Brown directed his accurate shot from the edge of the Crewe box past a helpless Jaaskelainen.
Moments later, Brown tested the young Alex goalkeeper again but this time he watched it well, adjusted his body and pushed behind for a corner.
Forest Green enjoyed their best spell as the first half came to an end but Mills had to make a timely tackle to deny Ainley getting through.
Mark Cooper’s side made an emphatic start to the second half and scored twice within the first eight minutes. After good work from Gunning, the lively Junior Mondal fired superbly into the top corner past Jaaskelainen.
Then a slip from Wintle allowed Doidge to get hold of the ball and set up a two on two situation. Doidge found Mondal and his chip over the onrushing Jaaskelainen didn’t have enough legs but Doidge had enough about him to race in and tap into an empty goal for 3-1.
Crewe were up against it after being punished twice on the counter-attack and Cooper’s side have been impressive away from home all season.
Lowery continued to influence the game with his forward running and eye for a pass. Brown was booked for the visitors but it was never that sort of game.
More good wing play from Kirk gave Crewe a lifeline back into the contest. His run to the by-line just after the hour mark saw him provide a cross from close to the by line and the danger forced the Forest Green captain Mills to turn it into his own net. The own goal ignited Crewe into life again as an attacking force, as did the introduction of Owen Dale for Ainley.
A chance opened up for Lowery and his 20 yard shot was pushed away by a well-placed Montgomery. Moments later a fantastic cross from Dale found Kirk across the box but he didn’t quite get his connection right and his tough fell to the Forest Green goalkeeper.
Another change saw Finney replace James Jones and Dale’s willingness to run the Forest Green back line always gave us a chance of levelling things up.
Crewe continued to press, looking for that genuine chance to draw level. Forest Green made a change with Shawn McCoulsky replacing Grub with 10 minutes to play.
Nicky Hunt was booked for foul on Mondal just on the edge of the penalty area. Mills effort took a deflection off the wall and lands on the top of the goal netting for a corner. From the corner, Jaaskelainen takes no chances to tip it over the bar.
The last change from Crewe boss David Artell saw Aaron Taylor-Sinclair replace Green and that allowed Wintle to move into midfield with the minutes ticking away.
Crewe showed incredible character once again to fight back. Great work from Dale and Lowery saw the excellent midfielder reach the by-line and fire across the six yard and there was Kirk to lean back and guide home an equaliser.
If that was good then his next goal was even better. Montgomery’s clearance went only as far as Kirk and the winger returned his lob so accurately to defeat the Forest Green goalkeeper as he rushed back to try and rectify his mistake! It was a fantastic finish for his 11th goal of the season and could be a late, late, late contender for goal of the season.
Crewe had to see out the remaining stoppage time minutes and had the scare of a goal disallowed through a push from Reid on Nolan or handball. The Forest Green players rounded the referee but the goal did not stand and Crewe had the points.
What a last performance to end our home season. That’s 15 wins and means we will have the joint best home record in League Two.
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