Alex come from behind again to win at Crawley thanks to goals from Wintle and Green
Alex midfielders, Ryan Wintle and Paul Green were both on target at Crawley Town as Crewe Alexandra recorded their third consecutive victory to take us top of the League Two table at this very early stage. The 207 travelling Alex fans absolutely loved it.
A spirited Crewe Alexandra side had to do the hard way yet again at the People’s Pension Stadium after missing a glutton of chances before conceding first due to Bez Lubala’s solo effort. A well worked equaliser saw Wintle level things up before the break after he was teed up by Charlie Kirk and the winger was the provider for Green’s winner too. His excellent cross found the advanced midfielder ten minutes into the second half and his downward header had enough on it to beat Glenn Morris.
Crewe should have enjoyed more of a comfortable night with the likes of Kirk, Daniel Powell and Chris Porter all spurning good chances to give us a deserved lead before Lubala’s opener.
The home side threw everything at us in the dying stages but Crewe held firm with the senior professionals, Hunt, Nolan and Green leading by example and Porter heading some of those high balls out of our box.
It was a well-deserved three points for the Railwaymen but it should have been more comfortable after a fantastic opening 15 minutes from us.
With Olly Lancashire serving a one-match suspension following his harsh dismissal against Walsall at the weekend, the timely return of Nicky Hunt saw him return to the starting line-up in central defence.
That was the only change to the side that deservedly defeated Walsall 1-0 on Saturday thanks to Eddie Nolan’s winning goal.
Crewe Alexandra actually had the ball in the net after just 35 seconds following a lovely move from a deep free-kick taken by Hunt. His searching ball found Charlie Kirk down the left hand side but he was correctly ruled offside before he had time to screw it back perfectly for Tom Lowery to dispatch into the bottom corner. It would have been some start.
Just two minutes later, the Railwaymen should have taken the lead after a clever short corner. Green and Wintle combined passes on the edge of the Crawley box and Green’s teasing low cross into the six yard box found the rushing Daniel Powell but he couldn’t quite bundle it home in front of goalkeeper Glenn Morris.
Crawley’s first real sight of Will Jaaskelainen’s goal came in the fifth minute after the ball was played out wide to Ashley Nathaniel-George but his low drive was cut out by the sliding Eddie Nolan.
More good play from the Railwaymen saw a delightful lay off from Nolan off the touchline and into Powell and in turn he found Nolan again close to the corner flag. The Irishman produced a tempting back post cross that Porter challenged for with Morris and with the ball dropping loose to Kirk, he did everything right to get his effort on target only for the Crawley captain Josh Payne to head off the line. It was a goal saving clearance certainly.
Crewe were dominant in the early passages of play and following a sharp twist and turn from Powell, he forced a fine one handed save from Morris down at his near post. Powell also forced the busy Crawley stopper into another save and it was evident that the Crewe winger had too much power and pace for full-back Josh Doherty.
The chances kept on coming for the Railwaymen and after a firm shot from Kirk was too powerful for Morris to hold, he had to rely on his captain again to deny Porter from helping himself to a simple tap in. From the resulting corner, Porter headed a yard over the crossbar.
Crewe had conjured up at least four decent chances in a dominant 15 minutes and it looked all too familiar to last season when we did exactly the same but ended up losing the game 3-0!
Lo and behold, totally against the run of play, the home side took the lead on 16 minute. It was really their first venture into the Crewe final third. Ollie Palmer contested for possession and when Nathaniel-George smuggled the ball through to Bez Lubala, he skipped past one challenge to break too easily through the centre of the Crewe defence and he slotted his low shot past the advancing Jaaskelainen for his fourth goal of the season.
Powell continued to be a threat, running at pace and being his direct self and another encouraging run saw him square up to Payne but on this occasion he pulled his cross shot wide of the far post. It was evident that opportunities were there for Crewe and we just had to start taking them.
Crewe finally scored the goal our play thoroughly deserved on the stroke of the half an hour mark. It was a fantastic move that saw the influential Powell hold off Doherty yet again and feed the unmarked Green and his low cross reached Kirk at the far post. The winger took a positive touch before laying off for Ryan Wintle to drill home his first goal of the season. A terrific move and a terrific goal to put the Alex level.
Crawley’s Lubala was a thorn in our side though and he volleyed well over from a promising position. His captain then stepped up field to shoot inches over the top of the Crewe crossbar.
Powell eased the struggling Doherty out of his path again but no-one could quite reach his cross shot to the far post with Porter doing his level best to try and get his studs on it. A half where Crewe had comfortably been the better side ended with Powell finding Green inside the Crawley box but he couldn’t quite take it in his stride and Morris took his chance to pounce.
Crawley made a double change at the break with Nathan Ferguson and Reece Grego-Cox replacing Ashley Nadesan and Nathaniel-George. Ferguson had an early effort blocked by Nolan, who stood firm.
Crewe continued to get in some dangerous positions but that final, really accurate pass was just lacking. On too many occasions, we hit a red shirt from a really promising position.
Lubala became the first player to be booked for going through the back of Tom Lowery as he tried to collect the ball off Hunt. The challenge angered Hunt, who protested with the Crawley winger.
Crewe took the lead ten minutes into the second half. Porter did fantastically well in the air to win his flick on to find Kirk and after getting the ball out of his feet, he whipped over another dangerous cross onto the head of the advanced Paul Green and his downward effort defeated Morris close to his post. It was Green’s first goal of the campaign as Crewe continued to spread the goals around the team.
The home side nearly hit back straight away when a superb cross field pass found the chest of substitute Grego-Cox and his excellent cross allowed Palmer to rise and head goalwards but the covering Nolan was well placed to clear from the line and protect our 2-1 lead.
Crawley certainly offered more of a threat going forward and the fresh leg had injected some urgency in the final third as they chased an equaliser.
Ng fired a long range effort to test Morris again and the Crawley goalkeeper needed two bites at it to grasp it. Wintle, who impressed all evening with his work and his clever positioning whistled one just wide from just over 20 yards.
The game was evenly poised as we entered the final 20 minutes. David Artell made his first change by introducing the zest of youngster Owen Dale for Powell.
Moments later it was nearly 3-1 after Ng pressed forward and lifted a perfect cross for Porter t really attack but again he was slightly put off by the presence of Payne and Morris managed to get his palms on it and deflect it behind for a corner. The next goal was going to be crucial.
With just over ten minutes left on the clock, Crewe lost Harry Pickering with what appeared to a groin injury. The left-back had been struggling for a few minutes and had to be replaced. Oli Finney replaced him and had to fill in at left-back.
From a Darces-Cogley free-kick, his deep cross found Ferguson and his header looped towards goal and Palmer but Jaaskelainen did really well to come and punch clear of the danger.
Crawley certainly began to apply some sustained pressure on our goal and were turning our defenders at any opportunity. Hunt and Nolan were holding us together with their experience.
With the minutes ticking away, Crewe got on the ball a lot more and made Crawley chase us around for a bit.
As would expect though, the home side threw everything they possibly could. Those high balls continued to enter our box and Jordan Tunnicliffe had a downward header that bounced the right side of our post. Crewe had their three points.