Hard fought point and goalless draw for the Alex
Crewe Alexandra deservedly halted a pointless run of three games with a hard fought point and clean sheet against Bradford City. In what was never a dull goalless draw, our first for 54 games, at the Alexandra Stadium with both sides having half chances to claim all three points.
Arguably Crewe’s best chance of the game came in the dying minutes but winger Byron Moore fired his volley into the gloves of the well placed Jon McLaughlin.
Bradford City’s best opportunity fell to the fit again Nahki Wells in the first half but he dragged his shot wide of the target from a good position.
Steve Davis made a host of changes with Jon Guthrie replacing the injured Matt Tootle (foot) and there were also recalls for goalkeeper Alan Martin, Chuks Aneke, Max Clayton and a fit again Harry Davis.
The on-loan Manchester City youngster George Evans was also handed his senior debut with Abdul Osman left on the substitutes’ bench. The captaincy was handed to Adam Dugdale.
Clayton had an early chance after some good approach play from Moore and the overlapping Kelvin Mellor, but the young Alex striker didn’t catch his shot as well as he would have liked. Mellor then nearly picked out a run from Vadaine Oliver but the Bradford goalkeeper McLaughlin reacted quickly to rush from his line and clear the danger from the edge of the penalty area. The Bradford keeper acted as a sweeper throughout the game and did it really well.
Bradford were always going to be a handful with a front two of Wells and the towering James Hanson but the Crewe centre-halves dealt with them well and generally restricted them to half chances throughout. Hanson did head a far post header into Martin before Wells had a shot blocked by Dugdale inside the penalty area.
The hard working Oliver was denied a close range header after a superb delivery from Moore before debutant Evans forced the Bradford goalkeeper into a smart save, he pushed the effort away for a corner.
Crewe’s pressure drew warm applause from the home fans and Aneke had the confidence to try his luck from long range but didn’t catch three efforts well enough to trouble the Bradford stopper.
Bradford’s best chance arrived on the half an hour mark. Evans and Grant were caught out in midfield and a quick break from Nathan Doyle saw him instantly feed the quick Wells in behind but he dragged his shot wide of the mark. You would have backed the Bermuda International to have hit the target from there.
An entertaining first half, that ebbed and flowed saw Hanson poke an effort over the crossbar.
Aneke was at his influential best at the beginning of the second half and he played some trademark passing into Clayton and Oliver but they couldn’t quite register their efforts on target to test McLaughlin.
Crewe were enjoying their best spell and looked the more likely side to go ahead but Bradford continued to be a threat on the counter-attack and set-plays with Hanson about. Martin was well placed to gather another header from the Bradford target man and he had to push another downward one away for a corner.
Crewe continued to press forward though looking to break the deadlock with Clayton curling an effort into the gloves of the Bradford goalkeeper and Harry Davis curling a free-kick on target that needed a touch from the visiting goalkeeper.
Anthony Grant typified the drive and effort with one of his best performances of the season and would have been many supporters’ choice of man-of-the-match.
The Bradford winger Kyel Reid shot wide from 25 yards after encouraging run before Brad Inman replaced Clayton. His first involvement saw him curl an effort just wide of the mark after move good work from Oliver.
Wells tried to catch out Martin with a cheeky chip but the Crewe goalkeeper had read the danger to make an easy save.
With time running out, the tiring Oliver was replaced by the fresh legs and insurance of Osman.
A late chance saw Inman out pace Stephen Darby but his low dangerous cross was turned behind before an onrushing Crewe player could apply a decisive touch.
Darby got himself in a muddle in injury time and his loose clearance looped into the path of Moore but his volley was straight at the Bradford goalkeeper.