Wolves promoted after overcoming ten men Alex
Wolverhampton Wanderers confirmed their place in the Championship for next season with a 2-0 win at the Alexandra Stadium but the Railwaymen made it extremely difficult for themselves after having to play the entire second half after Chuks Aneke was sent off for leading with an alleged elbow on the stroke of half-time.
Just before that vital moment, the influential Kevin McDonald had given the visitors the lead with a deflected shot off of the boot of captain Matt Tootle. It was harsh on Crewe to go behind at the break and the dismissal of Aneke made it doubly hard against the League’s top team.
Wolves sealed the three points and promotion back to the Championship with a second goal from David Edwards on 66 minutes, but the Alex would have been annoyed that a foul on Jon Guthrie in the build-up to the goal hadn’t been spotted by the officials.
Kenny Jackett’s Wolverhampton Wanderers were on the front foot in the early minutes and were certainly enjoying the majority of the possession but Crewe Alexandra were working exceptionally hard to contain them in the final third. An early half chance nearly saw Aneke poke a through ball to his strike partner Uche Ikpeazu.
On 14 minutes, Wolverhampton Wanderers presented Ikpeazu with a golden chance to take the lead. A hurried clearance from the Wolves goalkeeper Carl Ikeme went straight to the feet of Aneke and his instant pass into Ikpeazu gave him an opportunity to get a shot off but he didn’t catch it right and it was straight at a relieved Ikeme.
Wolverhampton Wanderers continued to press trying to get in behind the Crewe rear guard but their chances were few and far between and Ben Garratt was not being as tested as you would expect.
McDonald, who was growing in confidence had a low drive blocked and Richard Stearman likewise in the follow up.
From a Guthrie corner, McDonald showed his defensive capabilities by flicking away from the on rushing Adam Dugdale.
Dugdale was also fortunate to escape a yellow card after catching Michael Jacobs with a lunging tackle and from the resulting free-kick, Bakary Sako drilled a shot straight at Ben Garratt.
Grant then snapped into a tackle on McDonald to free possession up and find Aneke, who attempted to force his way through with some trickery. He was crowded out. Grant typified the spirit with his work rate and willingness to break things up. He excelled and carried that on even more so with us reduced to ten men.
Wolves were finding it difficult to create any real genuine chances but Sako delivered some wicked crosses that whistled across our six yard box and Garratt had to push a fine effort from Jacobs away for a corner.
Before his red card, Aneke tried to force his way through again using his strength but this time was halted by Danny Batth.
At the other end, Guthrie kept calm at the far post to smuggle another excellent cross from Sako behind for a corner.
With a fairly even first half drawing to a close, Evans was booked for a late tackle on Lee Evans and that resulted him not showing for the second half as he was replaced by Nolan. From the resultant free-kick, Sako hit it straight into the wall and behind for a corner.
Wolves were finishing the half the stronger and Jacobs narrowly headed wide from a Sako cross before the decisive opener on 45 minutes. Tootle was a little unlucky to concede a corner after the ball seemed to hit him last as he raced into the corner with Sako.
After Sako had over hit the corner, McDonald retrieved it on the left hand side and after playing a one-two with Sam Ricketts, he drilled his low shot into a crowded penalty area and after deflecting off the boot of Tootle it went through into the net.
On the brink of half-time, Aneke was sent-off after challenging Richard Stearman in the air. It appeared that the on-loan youngster from Arsenal led with his arm rather than his actual elbow but referee Bond deemed it violent enough conduct to dismiss him.
Crewe had to face the prospect of facing Wolverhampton Wanderers with ten men for the next 45 minutes.
Moore started the second half brightly but his wicked cross just evaded everybody but Wolves understandably dominated the possession. Saying that the visitors’ early efforts were restricted to long range with Jacobs shooting straight at Garratt and the Alex keeper having to get a touch of a good effort from Sako.
Richard Stearman had to be well placed to get take a headed change away from Ikpeazu as Crewe really gave it a good go despite being a man less. Inman was a bit unfortunate to get his feet tangled up after a forceful run before Garratt was called upon to hold a shot from David Edwards.
Wolves finally scored a killer second goal on 66 minutes. Jacobs did appear to have shoved Guthrie in the back as he chased the ball down in the left channel but the throw-in was awarded to the visitors and after catching us on the back foot, Edwards shot past Garratt for 2-0.
Kenny Jackett made the first change of the game with James Henry replacing Sako. Crewe also made a double change of their own with Mathias Pogba and Billy Waters replacing Ikpeazu and Inman.
Waters had an early shot saved by Ikeme and Pogba tried to impose his physical game on the Wolves centre-halves.
Wolves were in control with the 2-0 lead and man advantage but Crewe deserved credit for their work rate with those ten men. It didn’t appear that we were a man down and that was testament to the shift they put in. Grant was rightly man-of-the-match for his energy.
Wolves and their supporters saw out the remaining minutes and had to survive a late free-kick taken by Tootle before their promotion was confirmed.