Inman off the bench to hit priceless winner
Crewe recent fine form on the road continued at Crawley with goals in each half from Uche Ikpeazu and substitute Brad Inman gave Crewe a priceless 2-1 win over John Gregory’s side. Crawley had managed to cancel out Ikpeazu’s 16th minute opener through a splendid shot from their own substitute Jamie Proctor but a superb one-two covering the length of the pitch between the excellent Byron Moore and Inman saw Crewe leave West Sussex with the three points.
Ikpeazu, who had promised goals this week, was in the right place at the right time to tap home a shot from Mathias Pogba after the Crawley goalkeeper Paul Jones failed to hold onto it.
Inman’s winner with just over ten minutes left was superbly crafted and gave Crewe a superb away win.
Steve Davis made two changes from the Crewe side that narrowly lost 2-1 to Coventry City last weekend. Midfielder George Evans was left out of the squad for the trip to West Sussex, with youngster Liam Nolan handed another chance alongside Anthony Grant. It was Nolan’s fourth start in the first team. Abdul Osman offered the midfield cover from the substitutes’ bench. The other change saw Byron Moore regain his place ahead of Bradden Inman.
The contest needed time to settle with the early exchanges dominated by a succession of headers in the middle of the pitch. The ball was spending more time in the air and when it was grounded, both sides were surrendering possession rather cheaply. It was a scrappy opening.
The first act of quality in the opening ten minutes inevitably came from the footwork of Chuks Aneke. Mathias Pogba pinched possession back high up the pitch to find the on-loan Arsenal starlet and his instant pass released Uche Ikpeazu through the middle, only for the assistant referee to raise his flag. It was a very tight decision and Ikpeazu could well have been level when Aneke had played the pass.
A minute later, Crawley’s main man Billy Clarke found enough space to find Rory Fallon on the edge of the Crewe box, but the retreating Grant did well to brush the forward off the ball and clear. Fallon bemoaned the challenge but referee Trevor Kettle wasn’t interested in awarding an early spot-kick to the home side.
minute when he confidently left his line to grasp a free-kick from Matt Sadler.thBen Garratt’s first real involvement in the game came in the 14
On 16 minutes, Crewe produced a really forceful and bright counter-attack to score the opening goal of the game. Moore and Tootle combined down the right hand side to find Aneke in space centrally. He nudged possession into the path of Pogba and after he had somehow got away from two Crawley defenders, he made his way into the penalty area with a little step-over.
Pogba’s low shot across goal wasn’t grasped well enough by goalkeeper Paul Jones and there was Ikpeazu to tap home from close range. It was a real poachers’ finish from the on-loan Watford youngster and his third for the club following his brace at Bradford back on his debut.
Almost immediately, Crawley nearly hit back with Clarke finding space on the edge of the Crewe box, but Garratt was well positioned to tip over his shot for a corner. From the resultant set-play, Ikpeazu did well defensively to get out and block a shot from Sergio Torres.
The comfort of the early goal saw Crewe enjoy the better of the possession with Moore looking confident on his recall to the side. An Ellis cross was just too high for Aneke to produce a clean header on goal before Fallon was booked for clattering into the back of Grant.
On the half an hour mark, Garratt read a long ball through the left channel really well to rush from his line and collect it just ahead of the lively Billy Clarke. The Crewe goalkeeper was alert to halt any ensuing danger. Clarke was certainly the danger man with his runs in behind for the Red Devils.
On 34 minutes captain Matt Tootle held up Mike Jones as he tried to make progress inside the Crewe penalty area and the Crawley wide man could only fire into the side netting from an acute angle.
A few minutes later, Gary Dicker was booked for a foul on Grant. The competitive midfielder was booked after a succession of fouls in the first half. He was joined in the referee’s book by Kyle McFadzean for a block on Ikpeazu as he knocked the ball past him.
In the final minute of the half, Rory Fallon was rather lucky not to have received a second yellow card after he caught Grant with a late challenge. Referee Kettle spoke to the player and his captain Josh Simpson but didn’t produce a second yellow card. It could have been, most certainly.
An early slip from Dugdale at the beginning of the second half, his goalkeeper Ben Garratt read the situation well again to rush from his line and volley away.
A really bright move from the Alex then saw winger Moore pick out Pogba with a deep cross and his intelligent nod back is hit by Aneke but his controlled half volley is straight at Jones. The Crawley goalkeeper then called upon again to grab a deflected header from Aneke after Matt Tootle’s accurate corner had found him in a yard of space.
Crawley came more into the game, but Dugdale and Ellis were remaining strong with their headers and Tootle and Guthrie helping out when required. Dugdale headed out a Sadler cross before Ellis was well placed to meet another cross ahead of Clarke. From the resulting corner, Nolan closed Torres down on the edge of the box and he could only shoot wide.
Uche Ikpeazu became the first Crewe player to be booked for kicking the ball away after he had been ruled out for offside.
A slip from Ellis allowed winger Mike Jones to get a shot off that had Garratt scrambling across his goal.
Crawley boss John Gregory made a double change with Clarke and Jones replaced by Jamie Proctor and Jeffrey Monakana.
Just before the hour mark, Crawley nearly made their pressure count. Mark Connolly cut in to get a shot off through a crowd of players and after taking a double deflection it struck the foot of the Crewe post. Moments later, the substitute Proctor shot straight at the Crewe goalkeeper.
On 65 minutes, Crewe made their first change with goal scorer Ikpeazu replaced by Vadaine Oliver.
Crawley’s pressure finally paid off on 68 minutes with substitute Proctor unleashing an unstoppable shot from 25 yards past Ben Garratt. The Alex goalkeeper had little chance with his thumping shot nestling in the top right hand corner of the net.
With 18 minutes left and Crewe needing to get into the Crawley half of the field, Bradden Inman was introduced for Pogba. A forceful run from Oliver was blocked by McFazdean.
On 75 minutes, young Liam Nolan nearly marked his return to the team with a goal after he latched onto a loose ball bouncing around the box but he could only shoot narrowly wide.
Nolan had been excellent on his return to the starting line-up. Captain Tootle then shot wide with the outside of his boot after some good interchanging of passing on the right hand side.
Crewe had certainly got themselves going again and with 11 minutes remaining, broke again to retake the lead. Inman started the counter attack on the edge of his own penalty area by stealing possession from Monakana and he waited for Moore to join him in the Crawley half of the field.
Moore then waited for Inman to make his move before returning the ball through the middle of the Crawley defence and his inch perfect pass found Inman, who beat the onrushing Jones to knock it past him and into the empty net.
Grant was harshly booked for what looked a good challenge on Simpson. With five minutes remaining and to shore things up, defender George Ray was introduced for Aneke. Crawley also made their last change with Hiram Boateng on for Fallon.
Crawley's only late chance saw Ellis make another block on a shot from Proctor. Crewe continued to defend their box, clear their lines and hold on to the three points.