Stalemate at the Alexandra Stadium after tense affair
February. stWith so much at stake at the Alexandra Stadium, a tense affair ended in stalemate. A goalless draw means Crewe have collected four points from the Easter period but have still have not won at home since 1
Crewe just couldn’t follow up a fabulous 3-1 win at Shrewsbury and achieve a third back-to-back win of the season, with Colchester coming closest to winning the game with Freddie Sears smacking the Crewe post in the second half. Crewe huffed and puffed but couldn’t conjure up that real genuine chance that could have made all the difference.
Uche Ikpeazu had the best chance to claim the points for the Alex with a header after an excellent cross from Byron Moore reached the back post but he couldn’t get it on target.
The U’s will be happier with the point as it keeps Crewe below them in the League One table and now Crewe have Bristol City away and Preston North End at home to finish the season.
Steve Davis named the same side that won so impressively at Shrewsbury on Good Friday with Bradden Inman operating behind the main forward Uche Ikpeazu. It was exactly the same substitutes’ bench that helped us achieve that 3-1 away win at the Greenhous Meadow.
The Railwaymen made a tentative start to the game but forceful runs from Ikpeazu and Mathias Pogba from wide on the right soon got the home support back in good voice. After a little bit of a nervy start to the proceedings, Ikpeazu didn’t quite catch an early shot after Pogba reached the touchline to produce a decent cross into a crowded penalty area.
Crewe were working exceedingly hard to pressurise Colchester in possession and Grant and Pogba earned warm applause by winning the ball high up the pitch.
Jabo Ibehre was a handful with his physical presence for the visitors and he shot just wide of the mark after a forceful run and in tandem with winger Gavin Massey that was certainly the U’s best opportunity to be a threat in the final third of the pitch.
Crewe’s best effort of the first half saw Inman and Moore combine and lay off a chance for Liam Nolan to strike. His effort from 25 yards was well struck but the Colchester goalkeeper Sam Walker was equal to it to push it away from danger. In the follow up, Grant’s effort took a wicked deflection to take the pace out of it and it drifted through to Walker.
Another probing run from Pogba found Ikpeazu and after a little turn, he shot inches over the crossbar. Crewe were on top at this stage of the half, but slowly but surely Colchester got themselves firmly into the game as an attacking force.
Ellis had to produce a strong tackle to stop Massey from having a clear run at Ben Garratt’s goal and after Grant had slid in to concede a free-kick some 25 yards from the Crewe goal, the Colchester captain Brian Wilson couldn’t keep his curling shot down enough to test Garratt for the first time.
The game became a little scrappy but Ikpeazu was direct again with another forceful run but he dragged his final shot straight at Walker.
Colchester got on top and Ibehre nudged a cross from Sears just wide before Massey shot straight at Garratt from distance.
Crewe were holding on more than the visitors for the half-time whistle. Sanchez Watt shot harmlessly wide from a good position and Jon Guthrie had to well-placed to turn away a dangerous looking cross from Freddie Sears.
Colchester looked the more likely side to score in the closing stages of the first period and Ibehre dragged another effort wide and Sears shot straight at Garratt as the U’s looked to take an advantage into the interval.
After surviving some late pressure at the end of the first half, Crewe came out with a lot more purpose at the beginning of the second. Moore showed some encouragement with a shot straight at Walker and Adam Dugdale was unlucky to see an early volley from a Guthrie corner hit a defender.
A clever flick from Inman nearly found the run of Moore, but Walker read it accordingly to smother at his feet.
Colchester were still a threat in the final third though with Ibehre, Sears, Massey and Watt always offering something. Dugdale blocked a shot from Massey before at the other end Moore took on Wilson with his pace and clipped a cross that Pogba just couldn’t reach.
Steve Davis made the first change with Waters replacing Inman and he provided some zest with his trickery and directness.
Crewe looked the more likely side but a slip from Nolan allowed Ibehre to get away and as the Alex defenders retreated, he slipped in Sears and his powerful shot thumped the outside of the post and rebounded to safety. It was awfully close to the opening goal.
Garratt was also called upon to spread himself in from of Ibehre as he threatened to lift the ball over the advancing Crewe Alexandra goalkeeper. He did superbly well to deny him from close range.
Ikpeazu showed more great strength to reach the by-line but his cut back missed everyone out, including the fresh legs of Waters.
A swift break from the Railwaymen then saw captain Tootle reach the edge of the Colchester penalty area, but he was just crowded out and couldn’t get his shot off.
After surviving that shot from Sears that rocked our post, Crewe continued to press looking for that all-important goal. Crewe’s best chance saw Moore, yet again, clip a cross to the far post and Ikpeazu rose well but couldn’t direct his header on target.
That would prove to be Ikpeazu’s last contribution and he and Pogba made way for Vadaine Oliver and AJ Leitch-Smith.
Moore, who was arguably our greatest threat on the day, forced Walker into a smart save at the foot of the post and Oliver couldn’t quite reach a Guthrie corner.
Crewe tried to win it late on but it was also important to keep the back door firmly closed. Colchester were content with a point and a late trip from Marcus Bean on Grant as he threatened to break away showed that they were not going to take any risks in the dying minutes. A point apiece was a fair result.