Crewe comeback to earn win
Crewe Alexandra staged a fantastic second half comeback to fight back from 2-0 down to collect all three points against Colchester United. The Railwaymen found themselves 2-0 down in the first period after a flat first half display that offered very little as an attacking force, but came out a totally different side to put the U’s on the back foot. Five minutes into the second half, loan signing Lauri Dalla Valle scored his second goal since joining from Fulham to inspire us and when Magnus Okuonghae handled a Matt Tootle cross, it presented with captain Luke Murphy with a chance to draw the side’s level. Murphy took the spot kick ahead of Harry Davis and drilled it into the bottom corner.
The remarkable comeback was completed by the arguably the most influential attacker in the second half, Byron Moore, as he took on the Colchester full-back Brian Wilson to provide an inche perfect back post cross for Mathias Pogba to nod home from close range. It was Pogba’s third goal in successive matches and his 7th of the season and the stadium was at it atmospheric best.
It was a certainly a game of two halves and the Crewe crowd certainly played their part in getting us going in that second half. Steve Davis has certainly installed spirit and character in his squad and it was some way to celebrate his 12-month anniversary.
Crewe Alexandra strangely slipped into an old habit of conceding an early goal when Colchester’s wide man Ian Henderson drifted past Gregor Robertson and pulled back a cross for Freddy Sears to guide his shot past Alan Martin. The Crewe goalkeeper never moved as the Colchester captain slotted home after just two minutes of play.
Conceding so early certainly stunned the home supporters and Crewe continued to be flat as the visitors pressurised us into surrendering possession too cheaply and hitting longer balls up to new boy Lauri Dalla Valle. He didn’t have too much chance in the air up against the towering Colchester central defenders.
Dalla Valle did create an early chance for Chuks Aneke but he sent his shot over the Colchester crossbar from the edge of the penalty area. Luke Murphy tried to get the home side going with a forceful run but his low drive was blocked by Eastmond.
Aneke was then tripped right on the edge of the Colchester box, but Murphy fired the free-kick into the Colchester wall.
The best duel in the first period was between man-of-the-match Tootle and Sears. Tootle didn’t put a foot wrong and kept the former West Ham youngster relatively quiet. He also pushed the forward back into his own half and one dangerous was cut out by goalkeeper John Sullivan as Dalla Valle waited to take advantage of any slip up.
At the other end, a loose ball nearly found its way through to Jabo Ibehre but the Colchester striker didn’t realise it was behind in and it ran through to Martin.
A scrappy first half, was interrupted by fouls and stoppages. Colchester were controlling much of the possession and Crewe were finding it hard to get in their stride.
Out of nothing really, Colchester scored a second goal when Henderson cleverly lifted the ball over an advanced Martin. It was great lob that gave the Crewe goalkeeper no chance as he was off his line. Crewe, not for the first time this season found themselves two goals behind and facing a real struggle.
Pogba had a shot blocked by Michael Rose before Aneke finally registered a shot on target after 40 minutes but it was straight at Sullivan. Our best move in the first period arrived in the final minute when Moore crossed for Dalla Valle and his near post effort was saved, one handed by a diving Sullivan.
Whatever Davis and his assistant manager Neil Baker said at the break worked a treat. He has said it was verging on the hair dyer. A totally different Crewe side came out for the second 45 minutes. Just minutes in, Aneke fed Pogba down the flank and his low cross was converted by the alert Dalla Valle. It was the lifeline we needed.
Crewe continued to push Colchester backwards with Moore prepared to take people on and reach the by-line more often than he had in the first half. After Harry Davis had won a corner, Moore dropped a cross-come-shot just in front of Sullivan and he had to adjust his feet to punch clear.
A fine Colchester move then gave Ibehre a golden chance to restore their two goal lead, but he slipped at the crucial moment and Ellis was given an opportunity to get back and do enough to put him off. Marcus Bean fired the rebound over the top.
On 64 minutes, Crewe were given the chance to level when Okuonghae handled a cross from Tootle after he had tried to nip in front of Dalla Valle. It was a fine spot from the referee and the Colchester defender was booked for the offence and the dissent that followed.
After missing last weekend against Wycombe in the FA Cup and with the penalty coming over seven days later, Crewe swapped the taker with Murphy taking the opportunity from Davis. The captain stepped up at a crucial time to drill it home for 2-2.
A vibrant Crewe now looked the best bet to go on and win the game. Dalla Valle fired into the side netting from an acute angle and Sears did likewise at the other end. Clinton Morrison, the experienced striker replaced Eastmond as the U’s went in search of a winner themselves.
A long ball from Aneke nearly found Moore on the run, only for the Colchester goalkeeper Sullivan to rush out and head away for a throw-in. From Robertson’s throw, Aneke unleashed a fantastic shot that deserved to hit the net. It was only just wide of the mark.
The winner came with 19 minutes left after another forceful run from Moore. He made the by-line again and clipped a perfect cross for Pogba to nod home. It was a well worked goal and Crewe, for their second half display had deserved it.
Colchester threw on our former loan midfielder Andy Bond and Gavin Massey in an attempt to salvage something from the game.
Davis headed away a dangerous cross and Bean shot over again as Colchester stepped up in the final stages. Crewe had a chance to seal it though but the hard working Osman couldn’t keep his header down from yet another Moore cross.
Crewe had to dig in towards the end of the game and see out five minutes of stoppage time. Bean nearly drew the U’s level in the closing stages when his volley was blocked by Ellis and Massey couldn’t keep his follow up shot down.
The crowd helped Crewe over the line to three fantastic point that had seemed unlikely at the break to say the least.