Crewe: Garratt, Ng, Ray (c), Nolan, Pickering, Green, Wintle, Ainley (Lowery, 89), Kirk (Dale, 82), Bowery, Porter
Unused Subs: Richards, Hunt, Sterry, Taylor-Sinclair, Miller
Goals: Bowery (3), Porter (pen 32), Ray (90+5)
An unbelievable derby clash at Moss Rose ended 3-3 after a mistake-ridden affair saw it rain goals in South Cheshire. Crewe Alexandra looked to have wrapped up the three points when George Ray headed home a stoppage time goal from a corner with just 50 seconds remaining, but the home side hit back after they made Ben Garratt pay for not collecting the ball into his body.
The ball was kept alive by Scott Wilson and Reece Cole drilled home an equaliser. It was incredible stuff and Crewe will be kicking themselves that this was not three points in the bag, especially with the goals we conceded and the chances we squandered at half-time.
Jordan Bowery gave us a dream start with a lob after three minutes before a mix-up between Ray and Garratt allowed Wilson to nip in to score an equaliser after 15 minutes.
After winning a penalty, Porter duly took it and scored to put us 2-1before half-time and that was only that scoreline because of the stunning saves of Kieran O’Hara to deny headers from Ray and Paul Green. Callum Ainley also hit the post with a great effort.
A bizarre goal that saw Garrat nudged and then drop the ball over his own line from a corner allowed Macclesfield to pull level again until that extraordinary climax.
It was certainly two points dropped at the Moss Rose and although it was a point and we remain unbeaten it felt like a loss.
After last weekend’s home match against Carlisle United was postponed due to the freezing weather , David Artell had the luxury of naming an unchanged side for the short trip to Macclesfield. With new loan signings, Aaron Taylor-Sinclair and Jamie Sterry named on the substitutes’ bench there wasn’t room for the unfortunate Oli Finney and Alex Nicholls.
Boosted by a huge following in the away end, Crewe made a dream start in the Cheshire derby. After just three minutes, left-back Harry Pickering lifted a pass over the high Macclesfield Town backline and Jordan Bowery took full-advantage. He raced into space and as the Macc goalkeeper, Kieran O’Hara hesitated to come and collect on the edge of the box, Bowery calmly lifted it over the advancing goalkeeper. It bounced perfectly to nestle in the back of the Macclesfield net and the away following erupted. Bowery, who had scored twice against the Silkmen in a 3-0 win earlier in the season, had once again ignited this derby clash with a sublime finish.
Under Sol Campbell, Macclesfield certainly play much more football. Despite what appeared a tricky playing surface, they are neat and tidy in their passing and put a shift in. It made for a tight affair with neither side creating too much in the wake of Bowery’s wonderfully taken opener.
Therefore, it would take a moment of miscommunication after 15 minutes for the home side to draw level. The lively Scott Wilson chased down a hopeful through ball and George Ray was favourite to get their first but he seemed to hesitate a touch and wait for his goalkeeper to come and collect. Neither dealt with the situation well enough and Wilson seized his chance, gave Ray a nudge (it looked a foul), and side footed it past the badly positioned Garratt to guide it home into an empty net. It was another composed finish.
This tasty fixture was bursting into life once again. Crewe almost immediately restored the lead when Callum Ainley low drive from 20 yards was unfortunate to thump the foot of the post. Minutes later, Ray then forced O’Hara into a stunning save when his downward header seemed to be bouncing in. The Macclesfield goalkeeper needed a short period of treatment afterwards but was able to continue.
The threat of Bowery out on the right hand side continued and after he had once again drifted into the box, his curling shot aimed for the far corner was deflected behind for a corner by Miles Welch-Hayes. Nothing materialised from the set-piece.
More pressure from Crewe saw Porter’s low cross just evade Bowery and in the follow-up, Ng’s low drive was deflected behind for yet another corner for the Alex.
Just after the half an hour mark, Porter’s reading of a poor back pass from Nathan Cameron paid off with a penalty award. After some neat play from the Alex, Green burst forward to force Cameron into a back pass and Porter read it to beat O’Hara and the momentum of the goalkeeper took down the Crewe striker. After a moment of delay, the referee awarded a penalty and Porter stepped up to slot home with ease to make it 2-1 on 32 minutes. It was Porter’s 9th goal of the season.
Crewe always looked the more likely side to add to their tally before the half time interval. O’Hara redeemed himself with a stunning save to deny a forceful header from Green after Ng had picked him out with an excellent cross. Charlie Kirk also had a chance to head home at the far post but the Macclesfield goalkeeper was helped out on this occasion by Jared Hodgkiss.
The Railwaymen certainly didn’t want the half time whistle to come as we were comfortably enjoying our best spell of the game. There was half chance for Bowery after he yet again stole in behind but he couldn’t quite grasp the ball under his spell and Hodgkiss did well enough to force him wide.
A late burst from Wilson, who was a threat, found Michael Rose but his final shot was tame and Garratt collected easily enough.
Ainley then shot wastefully over just before the half time whistle after he had stole in to the box with purpose.
Crewe deservedly went in at the break 2-1 ahead and in truth but for a couple of fine saves from O’Hara it should have been more.
Sol Campbell made his first change at the beginning of the second half when the former Port Vale defender Zak Jules replacing Hodgkiss. Welch-Hayes switched over to right-back.
Crewe had an almighty escape just four minutes into the second half. Ray looked in perfect control but his stooping header back towards his goalkeeper was short again and the alert Wilson snapped at his opportunity again but on this occasion poked his effort inches wide of the far post.
Moment later, a sublime piece of skill from Ng saw him advance into the Macclesfield box but he couldn’t quite pick out a team-mate across a crowded box. A powerful run from Green then saw him cut across the box but his eventual shot was crowded out and cleared.
It was developing into a really open affair again but with the game littered with unforced errors, the one game in it was nothing.
Crewe looked a threat going forward with Green firing over the top of the crossbar and after a promising run, Ainley just over hit a cross aimed for the far post where Porter and Kirk waited.
More great work from the influential Green saw him find Bowery and his shot had to be pushed out by O’Hara just ahead of the sliding Porter.
Just after the hour mark, Campbell made his second change with the towering forward Harry Smith replacing Koby Arthur. He was soon involved after Wilson stole in behind again but his cross was cut out by the well placed Eddie Nolan before it reached Smith.
Smith was then booked for aggressively trying to lift the grounded Ng off the floor before he really wanted to. It was a cheap yellow card.
Macclesfield’s final change saw Liandro Martis replace Callum Evans, who hadn’t got any change out of Ng all afternoon. Martis showed some early pace, but Nolan came across to slide the ball into touch for a corner.
There did not seem to be any danger when the ball dropped into a crowded penalty area. Garratt seemed to collect it under his crossbar but appeared to be bundled in over the line and the ball slipped from his gloves. Cameron claimed it as the Crewe players understandably complained to the officials for a foul. The referee went over to consult with his assistant and after a discussion the goal stood. It looked such a bizarre goal to concede with just over 15 minutes remaining. Garratt must surely had been impeded?
Crewe tried to respond again but Porter couldn’t quite keep his header down from a corner before our first change saw Owen Dale replace Kirk.
Ray was booked for catching Wilson as he spun away from him and the game was evenly poised with six minutes left on the clock.
Ng breezed past Smith down the right hand side before he found Wintle and his quick pass to Ainley presented him with a shooting chance but he couldn’t keep his effort down enough.
With three minutes remaining, Macclesfield took full advantage of some lapse passing to break with pace with defender Fiacre Kelleher leading the charge. It went via Wilson to Martis and his low cross was turned onto his own post by the stretching Pickering. Garratt jumped on the loose ball much to our relief.
With a minute left, the tiring Ainley was replaced by Lowery. His first contribution saw his corner lead to a loud protest from the Crew faithful behind that goal because they felt there was an infringement at the near post.
The superb Wilson then curled one inches wide of the far post but Garratt would have had it covered anyway.
Crewe kept pressing looking for another late winner and yet again that spirit paid off. Captain George Ray threw himself at a late corner from Lowery and his downward header beat O’Hara. It was the dying seconds of injury time and that should have been it but there would be one more sting to the tail.
Garratt should have collected a straight forward ball to ease the pressure just moments after we had retaken the lead but it bounced off him and out to Wilson and the pressure told. The ball was played out to the Macclesfield winger Reece Cole and he buried it into the bottom corner. Crewe had made too many mistakes this afternoon to claim all three points and with tempers boiling over, some of supporters reacted to one of their fans celebrating on the pitch and it was a shame that the game ended that way.