Max Clayton’s tidy finish after 23 minutes gave Crewe Alexandra three great points against Coventry City. Clayton was in the right place at the right time to slot home from close range after a bright move on the edge of the City box involving AJ Leitch-Smith and Gregor Robertson.
Coventry’s best effort saw them rock the Alex crossbar in the second half through Cody McDonald but Alan Martin was hardly tested as we recorded our second win in League One.
With the club selling their midfielder and captain Ashley Westwood to Aston Villa late on deadline day, there was a recall for Abdul Osman in central midfield. His central partner Luke Murphy was handed the captain’s armband.
After successfully coming through an Under-21 fixture against Sheffield Wednesday in mid-week, Matt Tootle was named on the substitutes bench, alongside summer signing Michael West, who had overcome a problem with his Achilles to be named in the first-team squad for the first time.
A fairly even opening saw both teams enjoy possession and try to probe but neither goalkeeper were tested with genuine efforts at goal. It was the visitors who really should have taken an early lead through their midfielder Carl Baker but he couldn’t give his close range header down. It was a glorious chance wasted. The same player then shot into the mid-drift of the Crewe goalkeeper Alan Martin as they looked to take the lead.
Murphy, with the armband, drilled a dangerous looking free-kick into the direction of Max Clayton but it more hit him more than anything and the ball dropped dead inside the Coventry penalty area before being cleared.
Crewe scored the all-important goal after 23 minutes and it was a well-worked creation that opened up the Coventry back line and allowed Clayton to slot home his third goal of the season. In the build up AJ Leitch-Smith showed great feet to evade a couple of challenges, to put left-back Gregor Robertson in the clear. His low cross re-found Leitch-Smith and he instantly rolled it on to Clayton, who guided his low shot past a helpless Joe Murphy for the decisive goal.
The lively Harry Bunn nearly took advantage of a defensive mix-up between Jordan Clarke and Reece Brown but it didn’t run in his path.
Kelvin Mellor excelled at full-back and kept a watchful eye on Cody McDonald and Mark Ellis produced a Man-of-The-Match display at centre-half as Crewe kept their first clean-sheet in League One.
Another forceful run from Murphy saw him create an opening for Moore but he didn’t curl his shot with any real conviction and it was a simple save for the well-positioned Murphy.
An entertaining half ended with Bunn forcing another save from Murphy and Mellor so nearly reach a cross from Moore.
As excepted Coventry City certainly took the game to the Alex at the beginning of the second half and Crewe were finding it difficult to escape into the Coventry half of the pitch.
Caretaker manager Richard Shaw must have thought his luck was really out when McDonald hit the crossbar with a splendid effort and then couldn’t turn the rebound on target.
Crewe were having to defend with really resolutely but in truth Martin was not being tested too much. Osman was biting into tackles and competing and Clayton battled up against the physical nature of William Edjenguele.
Moore did give us some respite by winning a corner and Bunn’s well drilled delivery nearly saw Ellis slide in at the far post.
Coventry introduced the fresh legs of their deadline day signing David McGoldrick from Nottingham Forest for McDonald and then Gary McSheffrey for Steve Jennings. McSheffrey’s first involvement saw him shoot straight at Martin from 20 yards and MCGoldrick’s best effort saw him whistle a half volley just over the top of the crossbar.
Osman snapped into a tackle to win possession back and fed winger Bunn and in turn he found Murphy, who created a yard of space before drilling a shot just wide of the mark. Bunn had a shot blocked before he was replaced by Tootle.
Reece Brown was booked for catching AJ Leitch-Smith from behind before a smart turn from Clayton nearly saw him play in Leitch-Smith through the centre.
Crewe were standing firm and had to cope with a late scramble with defender Edjenguele heading a yard wide. A late substitution saw Callum Ball replace Stephen Elliott for the visitors but that real genuine chance never came for them to snatch a point.
In the closing minutes, Ellis was booked for catching Kevin Kilbane as they threatened to break forward and Carl Baker was booked for losing his temper and punching the ball into the air.
A late move, saw Robertson and Clayton creating a half chance for Moore but his curling shot was never troubling Murphy in the Coventry goal.
The hard working Abdul Osman demonstrated Crewe’s defending qualities by taking a volley square in the face, after a brief period of treatment he sprung up to help us see us record three great points.