Preview: Crewe Hopeful Of Turning The Tables At The County Ground
21 April 2019
Crewe Alexandra travel to Swindon Town on Easter Monday looking to complete a Bank Holiday double after victory over Yeovil Town on Friday.
But it's the toughest of tests for Dave Artell's side with The County Ground traditionally not a happy hunting ground for Crewe sides.
The last time the Alex won in Wiltshire was in December 2002 & there have been eight games since then - including the last two seasons where Crewe have let 3-1 leads slip on both occasions to lose 4-3.
But records are made for breaking & Dave Artell will be confident his side can go to the Robins & make it three wins on the bounce after the Notts County & Glovers wins.
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Three major decisions go again Crewe, Artell red carded, but his excellent Crewe side win 2-1 thanks to a Porter brace.
Crewe: Jaaskelainen, Ng (c), Nolan, Wintle, Hunt, Green (Finney, 77), Jones, Lowery, Kirk (Bowery, 77), Ainley (Dale, 67), Porter
Unused Subs: Garratt, Sass-Davies, Miller, Reilly
Goals: Porter (3, 45+1)
Attendance: 6,017 (TBC Crewe)
Crewe Alexandra recorded their fourth away win of the season at Swindon’s County Ground thanks to two goals from Chris Porter from two superb assists from Tom Lowery, but that didn’t tell half the story of a crazy game! They always tend to be at Swindon.
Crewe dominated the first half and deservedly let 2-0 thanks to two tap-ins from Porter and it could have been more with the Swindon goalkeeper, Luke McCormick, denying Porter and Charlie Kirk. It was arguably Crewe’s best 45 minutes of the season and the result virtually ended Swindon's hopes of a top seven finish.
After Chris Porter had a third goal chalked off for a dubious offside from a sideward pass from Callum Ainley, the home side were awarded a penalty after their substitute Ben House went shoulder to shoulder with Ryan Wintle, who was playing at centre-half. Michael Doughty slotted home the spot kick.
Following the Swindon goal, Crewe should have been awarded a penalty of their own when Porter was felled just as he was about to pull the trigger for a chance at a hat-trick but amazingly he was booked for a ‘dive’ and following his own, understandable protests, his manager was shown a red card and sent to the stand. Three major decisions had gone against Crewe but we managed to regain our composure to see the game out.
For the Easter Monday fixture at the County Ground, the experienced midfielder Paul Green returned to the starting line-up. The recall of Green was the only change to the side that comfortably defeated Yeovil 2-0 on Friday. Young defender Billy Sass-Davies, who had made an encouraging league debut made way, so Ryan Wintle was utilised at centre-half.
Will Jasskelainen retained his place in goal after his impressive debut against The Glovers.
Crewe made a dream start in Wiltshire to take the lead within two minutes. After Eddie Nolan and Nicky Hunt had done well in our own corner of the pitch, a swift break saw Green feed Lowery through on goal. The midfielder had to check back inside the Swindon box, but it allowed him to assess his options and he looked up to feed Porter for a tap-in. Porter had the easiest of finishes to pass it beyond an exposed Luke McCormick for his 13th goal of the season.
Crewe’s emphatic start continued in earnest and after the busy Lowery had found the overlapping Perry Ng, his dangerous cross was just about blocked. Moments later, Jones found himself in loads of space and he swung the ball out to the left of the box to find Porter. He took a touch before curling a sublime effort that drew a fantastic save from McCormick. His fingertip denied Porter a second of the afternoon in the early exchanges.
Swindon were finding it increasingly difficult to cope with the movement of Crewe’s midfield. There was a real energy to our play with Jones and Lowery pulling the strings. After 10 minutes, more good play by Jones saw him find Ainley and after he had jinked his way to the by-line, his fierce drive across the six-yard box took a nick to take it behind for a corner. A touch from anybody would surely have resulted in a second goal for a vibrant Crewe.
Swindon welcomed a respite with a couple of free-kicks but Crewe defended them well enough and it was good for young Jaaskelainen to have a touch.
Jaaskelainen was forced into his first meaningful save after 20 minutes. He had to adjust himself to position himself to collect a toe-poked effort from Theo Robinson after Luke Woolfenden had done well to find him inside the box. Swindon, who also liked to play out from the back were raising their game and flashed a couple of crosses right over the Crewe penalty area.
There was a short break so Porter could receive some treatment and it was most welcome as the players headed for the touchline for a short drinks break and a reprieve from the beaming sun.
On 33 minutes, Swindon’s James Dunne was awfully lucky to escape a red card after he so obviously pulled Porter back as he threatened to race through on goal. He was the last man when he made the infringement but despite the Crewe protests, the referee brandished a yellow card. Artell was livid in the technical area and understandably so.
With Crewe on top, Wellens made a change to his personnel and tactics with Kaiyne Wollery replacing Ali Koiki ten minutes before the interval.
Crewe broke again with real purpose on 39 minutes with Wintle playing a delighted pass out of defence into Porter and his instant lay off to Ainley out on the right wing. Ainley returned the pass to Porter but his shot was blocked and so was James Jones’ effort in the follow up.
Almost immediately, Swindon had a break of their own with Keshi Anderson feeding Robinson but his final shot was straight into the gloves of Jaaskelainen. The young goalkeeper also took the initiative to come and punch a dangerous looking free-kick from Bennett. As the Swindon pressure grew before the break, Wintle then stuck his head on a shot to deflect it behind for a corner.
Crewe rode that little more pressure and ended the half as we started with another Porter goal. It was another brilliantly crafted goal of the highest quality with captain Ng involved and the excellent Lowery cleverly racing into space once again. He had the know-how again to coolly look up and once again provide a perfect assist for Porter to net from close range. The build-up play was exceptional and it was again the simplest of finishes for Porter.
Crewe were not finished there either with Ainley turning provider for Porter but his back heal for a first half hat-trick was blocked and Ng’s follow up was blocked by possibly a hand before the agile McCormick made a stunning save again to dent a bouncing shot from Kirk. How Swindon kept it out was anyone’s guess, but it was no surprise that Swindon left the pitch to a chorus of boos as the half time whistle went.
At the beginning of the second half, Swindon made an early charge into the Crewe box and Nolan went to ground to make a timely block to block a shot from Robinson. Porter needed treatment again following a clash of heads but with the matchball to chase, he was soon up again.
Six minutes of the second half had elapsed when Porter thought he had indeed completed his hat-trick after Ainley had robbed possession in midfield and raced through on goal. He unselfishly rolled it across for Porter to tap home again and the assistant certainly didn’t raise his flag and then after a delay and muddle he did! Crewe were again livid and the referee had to go over to explain to the Crewe dugout of the decision. The ball looked to have been played forward but Porter also looked in line with the last defender. It was another big decision going against the Alex.
Green was fouled in the centre of the pitch but was booked as he fell and handled the ball on the floor. It should have been our free-kick but it went to Swindon and Doughty struck it comfortably wide.
Swindon’s second change saw Ben House replace Anderson on the hour mark. The substitute made an instant impact. After Nolan lost the ball too close to our box, House went shoulder to shoulder with Wintle, went down and the referee pointed to the spot. It actually appeared that Wintle was just too strong for the Swindon forward and it looked soft from our viewpoint. Doughty rolled the ball past Jaaselainen to give the home side a lifeline back into the game.
On 65 minutes Crewe should have had a penalty of our own. Porter was alert enough to rob possession off the last defender and race through on goal. He was ahead of his man and the whole stadium was up thinking it was a penalty to the Alex. Unbelievably, the referee raced over and booked Porter for a dive. Why he would go down when through on goal for a hat-trick? No-one could believe it, none more so than Artell who was sent to the stands for his protest. To be honest you could hardly blame him. Three massive decisions had gone against his team from referee Lee Collins and his assistants.
Kirk was also booked for kicking the ball away before Owen Dale replaced Ainley. Soon after, communication came down via the directors box and Finney and Bowery came on for Kirk and Green.
Swindon’s last change saw the former Port Vale man Marc Richards replace Robinson.
As expected Swindon started to swing crosses into the Crewe box but we stood firm. Jaaskelainen was not tested in another assured performance from him. Woolfenden sent a far post header into the side netting and the Crewe goalkeeper had to scoop up an effort from Richards.
With time running out, the sprightly Dale raced into the box and had a firm shot blocked. Crewe were excellent in their game management, keeping the ball in the corner and winning free-kicks and successive corners. There was also a late effort from Ng that was held by the Swindon goalkeeper.