Crewe Alexandra will be left wondering how they have departed Glanford Park without at least a point this evening after slipping to a 2-1 defeat to Mark Robins’ Scunthorpe.
A defeat really didn’t seem on the cards after Nicky Ajose had cancelled out Luke Williams’ tenth minute opener on the half an hour mark. Crewe conjured up the better of the chances throughout, but were left to rue not taking one or two when Miguel Llera had the good fortune of a Paddy Madden cross falling to him at the far post via two deflections. Crewe couldn’t find another goal with 12 minutes on the clock.
Although Crewe Alexandra made a bright start at Glanford Park with Uche Ikpeazu a menacing factor to the Scunthorpe back line and his strike partner Nicky Ajose, bright and clever in his work, the Railwaymen found themselves a goal behind after just ten minutes of play. The on-loan Middlesbrough youngster Luke Williams was granted too much time and space to guide his low shot past a helpless Ben Garratt from the edge of the 18-yard box.
Ajose obtained the goal his play had deserved on the half an hour mark though when he was in the right place at the right time to tap home an inviting low cross from James Baillie.
Crewe continued to conjure up the better of the chances throughout the game with Ajose twice going close from free-kicks and Ikpeazu’s shot tally approaching double figures.
With the Railwaymen appearing the more likely side to go on and win the game, a scrappy goal from Miguel Llera with 12 minutes remaining came against the run of play again. The centre-half tuned home a low cross after a tackle on Paddy Madden diverted into his path.
Steve Davis named an unchanged Crewe Alexandra side for the trip to Glanford Park. Club captain Matt Tootle was absent with illness, so Baillie retained his place at right wing back.
Young midfielder James Jones was back on the substitutes’ bench for Crewe and there was a place in the squad for George Cooper following his heroics in the FA Youth Cup on Wednesday evening when he scored the opening goal in a 2-1 win over Fulham.
Straight from the kick-off, Crewe produced a really forceful attack down the Scunthorpe right hand side. A succession of flowing passes saw Jamie Ness, Greg Leigh and Ollie Turton all combine to find Nicky Ajose on the edge of the opposition penalty area and his instant pass into Uche Ikpeazu saw his shot deflected behind for a corner.
Ness’ corner found the powerful Ikpeazu at the near post but his shot on the turn was blocked by Miguel Llera.
The early Crewe dominance continued with Turton finding Ikpeazu close to the by-line and after he had shown some neat footwork, he had another shot blocked close to the line.
Nicky Ajose also went awfully close with a well struck free-kick from 20 yards out as Crewe threatened to convert their really vibrant start into the opening goal of the game.
Therefore it was rather surprising that the home side broke the deadlock after 10 minutes. Crewe had managed to clear the initial danger stemming from Marcus Williams down the right but we were not tight enough from a throw-in on the opposite side.
Richard Brindley rolled the ball across the 18 yard box and Luke Williams had too much space and he simply placed it beyond Ben Garratt. The on-loan Middlesbrough youngster had been granted too time and his accurate shot into the corner gave the Crewe goalkeeper no chance.
More good approach play from the lively Ajose saw the on loan Leeds man feed Ikpeazu in front of the Scunthorpe goal, but the covering Alex Davey got just enough of a touch on it to take it away from the towering Crewe striker and behind for another corner. After breaking the offside trap Ajose also pulled a cross back that was crying out for someone to enter the penalty area.
In a fairly entertaining encounter, a stray defensive header from Leigh at the far post presented Paddy Madden with half a chance but he couldn’t connect properly on the half volley. Madden was a lot closer with his follow up effort that just missed Ben Garratt’s left hand post.
On the half an hour mark Crewe hit back with a well crafted goal. Turton stretched in midfield to sent the ball out to the advanced wing-back Baillie and his excellent delivery across the six-yard box found Ajose at the far post to tap home his first goal for the club. It was a super equalising goal from the Alex, who had certainly deserved to be level.
The Railwaymen continued to press and look the more likely side to score again before the interval. Another bustling run inside the box from Ikpeazu just lacked a proper finish.
Another advanced run from Baillie nearly saw him pick our Ajose again, but on this occasion, the alert Sam Slocombe intercepted the cross.
Scunthorpe’s best chance to go in ahead saw centre-half Llera head over from a corner. Terry Hawridge also saw his low drive collected by Garratt during the one minute of stoppage time.
Mark Robins decided to make the first change at the break with Isaiah Osbourne replacing Lyle Taylor.
The home side had the first chance of the second half but their captain Neal Bishop sliced his shot well wide from a good position inside the Crewe penalty area.
A splendid pass from Ness from a free-kick he had won, sent Leigh up field and into space and his low cross found Ikpeazu. He showed great strength and poise to turn but he couldn’t keep his shot down to trouble Slocombe.
Ten minutes into the second half, Turton won another dangerous free-kick and again Ajose fancied it. His well struck effort was destined for the top right hand corner but credit to Slocombe who got across to get his fingertips on it to make sure it grazed the post and stayed out. It was a terrific effort from the most threatening forward on the pitch.
After Madden was tripped at the other end of the field, Williams’ effort was grasped by the well placed Garratt.
On 65 minutes, Crewe felt that they should have had a penalty when Ikpeazu was upended after a strong turn and run. The offence certainly looked to have occurred inside the penalty area but the officials adjudged it to have first happened outside. The Alex players and the 231 travelling fans behind that particular goal were incensed by the decision. Nothing came of the free-kick but from the second phase, the advanced George Ray miss hit a shot from a decent position.
Ikpeazu was in the mood again and a shot at Slocombe came about after another robust run. Moments later, he left Llera for dead but couldn’t find Ajose with his low cross.
Another run into the box from the on-loan Watford starlet, then saw Ness fire straight at the Scunthorpe goalkeeper. Crewe needed to take one of these chances coming our way.
That proved enough for Robins who switched Hawridge for Hakeeb Adelakun with 18 minutes remaining.
Ness became the first player to be booked for a trip on Williams.
Amazingly with 12 minutes left, Scunthorpe took the lead again and it was scrappy to say the least. Madden made inroads into the Crewe penalty area and after Baillie had made a forceful challenge to stop him, the ball seemed to clip a couple of heal to send it spinning across the six yard box and Llera stuck out his leg to take it past Garratt.
The goal out of the blue, spurred Scunthorpe in more attacks with substitute Adelakun seeing his cross shot tipped away by the diving Garratt and Madden having another deflected behind for a corner.
A late change from the Alex saw Brad Inman replace one of our three central defenders, Harry Davis, as Crewe went in search of a second equaliser. Cooper also came on with the minutes ticking away for Turton.
A late surge from the lively Scunthorpe sub Adelakun saw his burst into the box, only to be denied by the back tracking Ikpeazu. Crewe couldn't find that one chance to nick a goal and a point we surely deserved over the 90 minutes.