Another shut-out sees Crewe take it to the final day
A second successive goalless draw at Ashton Gate saw Crewe obtain a hard earned point and means that our League One status will be decided on the final game of the season against Preston North End. A controlled and defensively strong performance from the Alex saw restrict an in-form Bristol City side to only a handful of half chances and actually we conjured up the best two chances with Mathias Pogba having an effort blocked on the line in the first half and captain Matt Tootle driving a late shot wide with five minutes left on the clock.
With Steve Davis electing to alter his formation to 4-3-3 for the trip to Ashton Gate there was a recall for young midfielder Oliver Turton in place of Bradden Inman in central midfield. Turton made his first start since suffering a knee injury away at Sheffield United back in October. Inman dropped to the substitutes’ bench alongside the returning Max Clayton.
Steve Cotterill’s Bristol City side came into their final home game in real form having lost just once in their previous 11 games and they started confidently at Ashton Gate with Marlon Pack attempting to pick out the league’s leading goalscorer Sam Baldock with a long pass, but the captain couldn’t quite pull it down.
Crewe settled down pretty quickly though and conjured up two really good chances in the opening six minutes. Mathias Pogba had started the game lively from the right hand side and he found his own captain Matt Tootle, who drifted inside before firing wide of the target.
Moments later, Pogba was denied a clear header at a cross from Byron Moore by the covering Greg Cunningham. With the ball not going totally dead, Uche Ikpeazu demonstrated good strength to reach the by-line and provide a low cross. Pogba had picked up an excellent position but completely miscalculated his shot and it went through his legs.
At the other end of the pitch, the vastly experienced Wade Elliott had a low drive blocked by a well placed Mark Ellis. The former Arsenal youngster Jay Emmanuel-Thomas was being provided with the ball at any opportunity and his strength and power on the right hand side was certainly a concern to the Alex defence. A confident Emmanuel-Thomas even attempted a really ambitious back heal from the first corner of the game but it was again blocked.
Crewe’s midfield three were dropping off into our half of the pitch and allowing the likes of Simon Gillet to dictate the pace of the game. Wade Elliott, who was also having a growing influence on the game couldn’t keep a volley down after Dugdale had done well to track the run of Baldock and win his header. He also showed great strength to hold off Baldock and clear the danger after he threatened to anticipate a flick on from Emmanauel-Thomas. City were finding it difficult to penetrate behind the Crewe rearguard.
A promising spell from the Railwaymen saw us claim successive corners, the second of which saw Pogba head a yard wide after a better delivery from Jon Guthrie. His first attempt failed to miss the first man. Ikpeazu then shot well wide on his weaker side after another forceful run.
On 36 minutes, Crewe created their best opening of the first period. Firstly Moore burst onto the ball to make progress into the Bristol City penalty area but he was held up well by Nyron Nosworthy but in the follow up, Ikpeazu again hit the by-line and pulled a low cross back for Pogba. With his back to goal, the Guinean International had his back to goal and needed to adjust his feet to spin and get his shot off. His effort was blocked and cleared by Pack.
Crewe ended the half with their fair share of the possession and a real positive going into the interval that a composed display had hardly seen Ben Garratt tested.
The Railwaymen started the second half on the front foot, knocking the ball around with real accuracy before Ikpeazu injected some purpose into the attack with another run to the by-line, winning an early corner. After retaining possession again and being patient with their build up, Ellis’s drilled cross nearly reached his central defender partner Dugdale but Cunningham beat him in the air to clear.
Moments later, the dangerous Ikpeazu then produced another powerful run from a deeper position this time but after carrying the ball a long way, he didn’t quite catch his final shot and it was blocked on the edge of the Bristol penalty area.
A really promising start from the Alex then saw Pogba just not connect with a cross from Moore after more good play from Anthony Grant in breaking up play and feeding Moore down the left channel.
After a positive start, Garratt was called into action for the first time to save from Jay Emmanuel-Thomas after he had glided onto the ball straight through the heart of the Crewe defence. Thankfully, he shot straight at the young Crewe goalkeeper.
On 56 minutes, Crewe were presented with an opportunity from a free-kick from the edge of the Bristol City box but Guthrie’s effort was rather tame and was easily collected by Simon Moore.
Emmanuel-Thomas was beginning to become more of a nuisance though, dropping deeper and combining with the likes of Gillet, Elliott and Pack as Bristol City slowly began to enjoy a better spell of possession. Ellis had to watch a run from Gillet as he threw in at the far post, but luckily the cross had too much pace on it for the attacking midfielder to reach it. As that pressure grew, Baldock had Bristol City’s best chance with a free header but he uncharacteristically couldn’t direct it goalwards.
Wes Burns replaced Scott Wagstaff with 20 minutes left before Grant dragged a shot wide. The second substitution made by Cotterill saw the welcomed departure of Emmanuel-Thomas for Martin Paterson.
Wade Elliott produced one of the passes of the game to release Paterson but as he threatened to get away with his fresh legs, Dugdale recovered to do enough to put him off and he could only poke his shot wide.
Moore was a threat with his pace but certainly met his match in the man-mountain Nosworthy, who could match him. Moore was crowded out after a promising run as he burst into the box trying to test his namesake in the Bristol City goal.
The final Bristol City substitute saw the hard working Gillet replaced by Bobby Reid. The introduced sub instantly tried an ambitious first time effort from distance that cleared the Crewe crossbar.
With five minutes left, a really good break from the Alex saw Moore find Pogba inside the Bristol City box and his forceful run almost took him straight through a cluster of bodies but he was denied at the death but the ball bobbled out to Matt Tootle presenting him with a great chance, but the club captain could only screw his shot wide of the mark after he shot across Moore. It was a glorious chance to break the deadlock.
Crewe’s first change saw Bradden Inman replace Pogba late on but there wasn't another genuine chance for us to snatch all three points.