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Crewe take early lead through Porter but Bury score three second half goals to see the Alex start the year with another away defeat.
Crewe: Garratt, Whelan, Ng, Ray (c), Pickering, Green (Lowery, 44), Jones, Wintle, Kirk (Dale, 77), Porter, Bowery (Miller, 71)
Unused Subs: Richards, Hunt, Nicholls, Ainley
Goals: Porter (3)
Attendance: 3,812 (492 Crewe)
Crewe Alexandra’s inability to win on the road continued to haunt us at Gigg Lane this evening as three second half goals from promoting hunting Bury ruthlessly cancelled out Chris Porter’s early opener for the Alex. Porter had bravery got ahead of his man to divert a wicked cross from Jordan Bowery into the Bury net in only the third minute of play.
Crewe were the better side in the first half by a country mile and had opportunities to extend that advantage, but Ryan Wintle fired straight at Joe Murphy from a good position and a heavy touch from Jordan Bowery just prevented him from getting a shot off after being found by Paul Green.
Green was also forced off before the half time break with what looked like a knee injury. Hopefully, it is just a knock or a bit sore rather than anything too serious.
Bury upped the stakes in the second half with their most influential player, Danny Mayor inspiring two goals inside the first nine minutes of the restart. First, his shot hit a post to allow the grateful Caolan Lavery to help himself to a tap in.
Mayor then won a penalty after another mazy run and Jay O’Shea made no mistake from the spot. O’Shea sealed the points with a well taken second goal of the afternoon for him. We couldn’t halt his forceful run and he duly dispatched it past a helpless Garratt.
The 3-1 defeat stems our run of back-to-back wins over Christmas and Crewe have now lost double figures on the road. Needless to say the away results continues to be our Achilles heel.
Crewe Alexandra’s player-of- the-season, Eddie Nolan, was ruled out of the trip to Gigg Lane with a calf injury. Nolan had passed a fitness test against Stevenage three days ago but that was over an ankle injury.
That meant a recall for on-loan right-back Corey Whelan and a switch of position for Perry Ng. The versatile defender moved back into central defence alongside George Ray. Nicky Hunt returned to the Crewe Alexandra squad as the covering defender.
The Bury side contained our former forward Nicky Maynard and on-loan full-back Chris Stokes, as well as Chris Dagnall on the substitutes’ bench. Byron Moore was not in the squad of 18 after playing in the club’s last fixture against Notts County.
After a long searching ball from Stokes nearly found its way to Maynard, Crewe opened the scoring with their very first attack. Paul Green collected possession some 35 yards from goal and quickly found Bowery on the right wing. His accurate cross was delivered almost immediately and Porter was alert to get a positive connection at the near post. His volley smacked the post before crossing the line to give Joe Murphy no chance. It was the in-form Porter’s third goal in as many games and just Crewe’s fourth away goal of the season.
The Shakers tried to respond quickly and both Jay O’Shea and Callum Styles had forceful efforts blocked before Maynard’s first sight of the Crewe goal saw him drag a decent effort a yard wide of the far post. It had been a frantic start to the game and Maynard so nearly forced home an equaliser after 10 minutes after he got across Ray and slid in on a low cross from Nicky Adams. Garratt and Ray did well to deny him another goal against his former club.
Crewe had their moments too with Charlie Kirk curling one wide of the target and then Ryan Wintle having a shot from 25 yards blocked by the onrushing Adam Thompson after Harry Pickering had done exceeding well to recapture possession and find Wintle in space in the centre of the pitch. Both teams were intent on attacking when the opportunity arose.
Another swift break from the Railwaymen on 22 minutes saw Wintle found Bowery again hugging that right touchline and he waited to be joined by the supportive Corey Whelan and after taking a touch, he whistled a shot a yard wide of Murphy’s left hand post. It just needed to come in a little to test the Bury stopper.
With Crewe continuing to cause problems for the Bury back line, we were presented with another chance to double our lead just before the hour an hour mark. It was another patient build up involving Pickering and Kirk on the left hand side and after the cross went in from the winger, Porter forced the ball to drop inside the box. With Bury protesting for offside that wasn’t, Bowery had an initial shot on the turn blocked before Wintle fired straight at Murphy from a good position.
There was one almighty scare ten minutes before the interval when Paul Green went down clutching his knee. After some brief treatment and a few stretches, the warhorse was up and running again but he wouldn’t see the half out. He would signal to the bench with two minutes left of the half to ask to be replaced and Tom Lowery came on. After only recently recovering from a knee injury, any unnecessary risk wasn’t taken.
Bury’s eventual match winner O’Shea became the first player to be booked for a solid challenge on Wintle in the centre of the pitch.
Crewe kept the pressure on and more of a deft touch from Bowery would have seen him with a clearer strike at goal after he had been found by the influential Green. Bowery’s rather heavy touch just allowed Stokes to hold him up and move him away from goal. The second phase of play saw Green then find Jones, who’s shot was blocked.
Bury made a concerted effort to try and snatch an equaliser before the break when forcing a number of corners and Whelan did superbly to deny Callum McFazdean a clean header at the far post. There were a few grumbles from the home fans as the whistle sounded, just to show how well Crewe had performed.
Ryan Lowe’s side were always going to come out with a greater intensity and in the opening minutes of the half, the Shakers dangerman Danny Mayor was getting more touches of the football than we would have wanted. He had an early shot blocked by one of his own players and Lavery slid into another shot that didn’t trouble the well positioned Ng.
Mayor’s growing influence in the game told after just five minutes. He again ran at the Crewe defence and he was unfortunate to see his shot strike the foot of the post and the rebound fell invitingly for Lavery to shoot into an empty net.
To their great credit, Crewe responded really well and went close to regaining the lead almost immediately with Jones poking an effort into the gloves of Murphy and sub Lowery then shooting inches over the top of the crossbar after the referee had played a good advantage following a foul on Wintle.
On 58 minutes, the skilful Mayor tormented the Crewe defence again with another mazy run into our box and after drifting past two challenges, George Ray stepped across him and got man rather than ball. The referee was perfectly positioned to award the spot-kick and O’Shea promptly blasted it past Garratt for 2-1.
The Shakers had turned it around. Styles was booked for catching Kirk with his arm as the winger threatened to break into space.
A lovely touch from Kirk then sent Lowery racing into space down the left hand side and his clever cross was left by Porter and so nearly found the run of Wintle in behind him. There were still openings there for Crewe.
A break from Maynard saw him crowded out by the covering Ng and Ray and they did enough to retreat and deflect his shot behind for a corner.
Crewe’s second change of the afternoon saw Miller replace Bowery. Bury also made a change on 63 minutes with Lavery making way for Telford.
With 15 minutes remaining, a resurgent Bury completed their comeback with O’Shea scoring a fine individual goal. His desire to take people on was rewarded when his powerful drive into the bottom corner made it 3-1.
With Crewe needing two goals now, Dale replaced Kirk and he injected some pace up there. Miller couldn’t quite screw a cross back to a red shirt after he had beaten Murphy to a through ball and from the resultant corner, Wintle’s powerful header was just too high.
The hard working, Maynard, made way for Dagnall late on. Crewe to their great credit kept going and kept at it, trying to find late way back into the game, but that genuine chance never materialised and Bury professionally saw the minutes tick away.
Saying that Crewe had a strong appeal for a late penalty when a cross from Miller appeared to be blocked by an arm. The referee waved away our appeals and those of the Crewe fans behind that goal.