Alex slip to their fourth successive defeat after 60 second opener
Crewe Alexandra slipped to their fourth successive defeat since our Wembley triumph as promotion hopefuls Yeovil Town scored the only goal of the game in the opening 60 seconds through Joe Edwards and then kept Crewe out for 90+ minutes again. In a repeat of the result at Gresty Road, Gary Johnson's well drilled side defended superbly well and if we did find a way through their re-guard, we found a man-of-the-match performance from Marek Stech. The Yeovil goalkeeper got the accolade after keeping out decent efforts from Max Clayton, Chuks Aneke and a stoppage time effort from substitute Ryan Colclough.
Veteran goalkeeper Steve Phillips shook off his slight thigh injury to resume his duties at Huish Park with Alan Martin dropping back down to the substitutes’ bench. There were also recalls to Steve Davis’ starting line-up for Bradden Inman and Abdul Osman in midfield and AJ Leitch-Smith up front.
Continuing on from Tuesday’s night slow start at Swindon Town, Crewe Alexandra made another disappointing one at Huish Park, conceding an opening goal in the first 60 seconds through Joe Edwards.
The supporters had hardly had time to settle into their seats in the Somerset sun before James Hayter manoeuvred himself into position to chest down a long ball into the path of Edwards and after bursting past Mark Ellis, his long range effort beat the recalled Crewe Alexandra goalkeeper Steve Phillips and nestled in his bottom corner.
It was a terrible start from the Railwaymen but we recovered well enough to create two really good chances in the opening 15 minutes.
Firstly, an acrobatic effort from Kelvin Mellor had to be tipped over by an alert Marek Stech in the Yeovil goal and from the resultant corner; Chuks Aneke nodded a far post header into the stopper’s gloves.
Bradden Inman then embarked on one of his trademark runs from deep, which saw him commit defenders and make it into the Yeovil penalty area. In between two defenders, Inman’s clever reverse poke saw his shot go inches wide of the far post. If it had crept in, Stech wouldn’t have stood a chance. It was an inventive effort that perhaps deserved a more positive outcome.
Despite the early goal, Crewe had settled into their passing stride fairly well but appeared vulnerable on the counter-attack as well. The division’s leading scorer Paddy Madden shot wastefully wide with more of the pitch to run into, before Hayter’s snap shot was much closer following a really forceful run from Sam Foley down the Crewe left.
Before the half an hour mark, the home side had lost two players through injured with Byron Webster and Nathan Ralph having to be replaced by Lewis Young and Angelo Balanta. In a first half of injuries, referee Brendan Malone also limped out of the action and had to be replaced by one of his senior assistants.
Following a pretty lengthy delay, Crewe continued to press forward, looking for a passage back into the game. Max Clayton forced Stech into a one handed save after Moore had cleverly flicked a ball into him. An advanced Matt Tootle also forced the Yeovil into a good save as he tried his luck from distance.
Crewe’s best spell of the first half came to an end, with Yeovil appearing the more likely to score the next goal. Madden fired wide of the mark, after he had got in behind our back four and Phillips had to be alert to dive on a dangerous looking cross from Foley with Hayter poised for a simple tap in.
Moments later, Hayter was inches away from connecting with a cross from Balanta but he couldn’t quite reach it as it flashed across the six yard box.
As a fairly even first period drew to a close, Clayton dragged a shot from the edge of the box well wide before Moore had a powerful shot blocked. Tootle, who had popped up in the opposition penalty area again was a little unfortunate that his sharp turn had not totally fooled Luke Ayling and the Yeovil defender was able to recover and clear up field.
In the opening minute of the second half, Ayling just about did enough to put Clayton off in front of the Yeovil goal after he had tried to bring down a lifted pass from Moore. The Yeovil defender got enough on it to take it through to his goalkeeper Stech and there continued to be chances in the game for both sides.
Yeovil were forced into their third and final substitution just a few minutes into the second half, when substitute Balanta had to be replaced by Gavin Williams. Soon after Tootle read the situation well to stop Hayter in his tracks as he tried to drift past a couple of challenges. Harry Davis also had to block a shot from Madden, as he was forced wide.
It continued to be end-to-end and open game with Hayter heading a Madden cross downwards and into the hands of Phillips, before Inman had a shot deflected behind for a corner. Clayton was also close to getting a decisive touch onto a low cross from Tootle after some promising build up play involving Moore and Leitch-Smith.
On 62 minutes, Aneke must have thought he had drawn the Alex level with his final touch of the game, after he had reached Osman’s deep cross first but the agile Stech kept it out. It would be Aneke’s final contribution as he was almost immediately replaced by Ryan Colclough. Minutes later, Ellington came on for Leitch-Smith as Crewe tried to unlock the Yeovil Town defence through different personnel.
The open affair continued with Clayton crowded out on the edge of the penalty area and Ellington being struck by a random clearance from the boot of Stech. At the other end, Mellor had to recover superbly well after his clearance only found Williams on the edge of our box.
Davis became the first player to be booked after protesting too much after being penalised for contesting possession with Madden in the air.
With the match entering the final 10 minutes, the Alex continued to have majority of the possession but found a well drilled and organised Yeovil back line difficult to break town. A skilful run from Ellington nearly unlocked them but his shot was just off target.
With six minutes left, captain Osman was booked on his return from suspension after he had blocked a run from Ed Upson on the edge of the Crewe penalty area. From the resultant free-kick, Williams saw his free-kick clip a Crewe body and go behind for a corner.
From Williams' cross from the right, Ayling must have thought he had made it 2-0 but Tootle did remarkably well to get his header off the line with Phillips beaten.
The final change from Steve Davis saw Ollie Turton replace Clayton. Ellis headed a late Davis free-kick over the top. Crewe kept going until the final whistle and Colclough saw man-of-the-match Stetch again produce a fine save in stoppage time to see Yeovil complete a league double over the Railwaymen.