Wonder goal from Aneke sets Alex on their way to back-to-back wins
Crewe Alexandra ended 2013 on a real high following a 2-1 win over Colchester United on Sunday and quickly followed that up with a replica score line to defeat Carlisle United on New Years' Day thanks to another goal from Chuks Aneke and a first from winger ‘Mesca.’ A wonderfully struck free-kick from Tom Lawrence with just over ten minutes remaining made it an anxious climax, but Crewe deservedly held on to record back-to-back wins for the first time since October.
It was no more than the Alex deservedly and a really positive period since that improved showing against Port Vale has moved us on to 24 points and only in the drop zone on goal difference behind Tranmere.
Crewe Alexandra boss Steve Davis was forced into one change for the visit of Carlisle United on New Years’ Day after George Evans picked up his fifth booking at Colchester on Sunday and a consequence a one-match suspension. Anthony Grant was recalled to the starting line-up in central midfield alongside Captain Abdul Osman.
The Railwaymen were quickly on the front foot at the Alexandra Stadium and a flowing early move involving full-back Kelvin Mellor and winger Mesca, the club’s leading scorer Chuks Aneke headed just wide of the target.
Graham Kavanagh’s Carlisle side conjured up an early half chance of their own after a low cross into the box evaded Mark Ellis and struck their onrushing forward Lee Miller, but Ben Garratt was alert to the danger unravelling in front of him and he made a smart save.
minute, a forceful run from the former Newcastle youngster saw Aneke fly into a challenge and force a corner from within the six yard box. thBrad Inman began to impose his pace and directness on the game and caused the experienced Pascal Chimbonda some major problems all afternoon. In the 11
At the other end of the pitch, David Amoo shot wide of the target after Ben Garratt had advanced from his line to punch clear a free-kick from Tom Lawrence.
Inman’s next involvement saw him latch on to a superb ball up the line from Harry Davis and after an interchange of passes with Matt Tootle, Inman’s cross was met by Aneke. The on-loan Arsenal youngster got a firm connection to it with his head and the Carlisle goalkeeper Ben Amos did exceptionally well to get his fingertips onto it and push it onto his crossbar.
Crewe continued to be on top for much of the first half and Tootle tested Amos from distance before Inman shot inches over after cutting in from his wide position. Moments later, a clever pass from Aneke struck the boot of Hitchcock as he looked to be played through.
Carlisle continued to play some neat passing football as well and after some tricky from Lawrence, Miller couldn’t get his shot on target and Garratt wasn’t called into action in the first period. The visitors’ were forced into a substitution when their captain Paul Thirwell was forced off with injury and was replaced by Courtney Meppen-Walter.
Before the half time break, there was another head-injury scare when Anthony Grant slid into a tackle with Lawrence. The combative midfielder didn’t initially move but was able to continue after some lengthy assistance from physio Rob Sharp.
In injury time, Inman nearly scored a contender for goal of the season when he embarked on another forceful run that left a number of Carlisle defenders in his wake. The whole of the Alexandra Stadium though the ball would eventually end up nestled in the back of the Carlisle net, but it when inches wide of the far post.
Carlisle began the second period going even closer than Inman’s late effort when Amoo twisted and turned Tootle before seeing his shot hit the foot of the post and roll out again. How it didn’t go in would need some explaining.
That thin margin in matches came back to haunt the Cumbrians as Crewe broke the deadlock on 52 minutes. Crewe’s on-loan trio of Mesca and Hitchcock and Aneke combined superbly again but Aneke’s finish was all his own outstanding work. With the outside of his right foot he bent a shot past Amos and into the top corner from just inside the penalty area. It was a stunning goal from the Arsenal youngster and put Crewe deservedly ahead in the game. It could be an early contender for our goal of 2014 already!
The opening goal gave Crewe an almighty lift and we went in search of more goals. Inman was having even more influence on the game and would be named man-of the-match by the supporters. Inman found Mesca again in space but instead of possibly shooting directly at goal, he elected to chip a cross to the back post and Meppen-Walter cleared for a corner.
From the Inman corner, Aneke then shot inches wide after sorting his feet out inside a crowded penalty area. With Crewe on top, Kavanagh made his second change with Lewis Guy replacing the quiet Miller.
The change up front for the visitors didn’t prevent Crewe going 2-0 up on 63 minutes. Inman was a constant thorn to the ageing Chimbonda and after he tricked his way past him again, his low cross was gratefully tapped home by Mesca for his first senior goal.
Carlisle’s Noble had a quick opportunity to bring his side back into the contest but he couldn’t keep his shot down from close range.
The excellent Grant had a shot from distance that was well held by Amos before Carlisle made it an anxious last 12 minutes by halving the deficit. Davis was booked for kicking the ball away after Osman was penalised for a trip and Lawrence made us pay with an excellent Ronaldo-like free-kick. The Crewe wall were understandably incensed though as the referee had strangely forced them back beyond the regulation 10 yards. The wall was clearly too far back as the referee counted out 11 yards!
Grant typified the effort and he made a timely interception at the far post to deny Amoo a clean header and from the corner Chimbonda headed a yard wide.
To inject from fresh legs, Vadaine Oliver and Byron Moore replaced the hardworking Hitchcock and Mesca. In the dying minutes Liam Nolan also replaced Aneke.
Although Carlisle continued to have the majority of the possession in the closing stages they never really troubled Garratt. Chimbonda headed wide from another corner and the advance goalkeeper Amos nearly got his head to a late corner, but the Alex deservedly held out to claim the three points.