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Crewe 1-3 Notts. County

25 March 2014

Crewe suffer home defeat to Derry's Magpies

A late brace from Ronan Murray, following on from Gary Liddle’s 10th minute opener gave Notts. County a 3-1 victory at the Alexandra Stadium this evening.  Defender Mark Ellis replied for Crewe in injury-time with his first goal of the season but that continued inconsistency suggests that it could go right to the wire in the bid to remain in League One.

Crewe’s only change in the starting line-up saw Abdul Osman replace Anthony Grant in central midfield. Young Billy Waters was named on the substitutes’ bench ahead of Byron Moore following his hat-trick for the club’s Under-21’s yesterday.

After what was a promising start from Crewe in terms of possession and pass completion, it was the visitors who arguably against the run of the play, who took the lead after 10 minutes. A free-kick stemming from the Notts. County left hand side was only half cleared by Jon Guthrie to the lively Jamal Campbell-Ryce and his dinked cross was headed home at the far post by Gary Liddle. The Crewe defence will be disappointed after having enough bodies at the far post to clear the lurking danger. It was Liddle’s second successive goal following his goal against Carlisle at the weekend.

Crewe continued to pass the ball better than we had done at home to Oldham Athletic but we were struggling to create any real chances. Notts County were organised, drilled and crowded Chuks Aneke whenever in possession of the ball. Liddle did a fine job on screening Aneke.

A bright passing move involving George Evans and Aneke nearly found the run of Uche Ikpeazu but the Notts. County goalkeeper Bart Bialkowski read the situation to smother the chance.

The left foot of Alan Sheehan was always a threat and his cross found Jimmy Spencer but his header lacked the power to test Ben Garratt. Spencer was a lot closer with a whipping curler that just zipped past Garratt’s post. The travelling Notts. County fans thought it was in.

Ellis did well to get across and deny Jack Grealish a clean shot at goal before the game exploded when Liddle lunged into a tackle on Matt Tootle. The Notts County midfielder was booked, other referees may have looked at it differently and produced a red card for a raised foot, but it was all ended with a hand shake.

That incident did ignite the crowd and it further increased when Grealish was also booked for a foul on Tootle.

Crewe were finding it hard to create genuine chances but when Aneke did escape his double marker he showed his ability by spraying the ball out to Brad Inman with the outside of the boot, but his cross was cut out as Ikpeazu made a run to the near post.

From the resulting corner, Ellis couldn’t quite get enough purchase on his header. With the first half drawing to a pretty uneventful conclusion, a drilled cross from Tootle found Aneke but his acrobatic effort was wide.

The home side came out with renowned purpose and desire to get on level terms. Uche Ikpeazu headed a Matt Tootle cross onto the top the netting. Tootle was also booked for a foul on Spencer.

The quick winger Campbell-Ryce was then denied by a smart save from Garratt after he had slipped the intentions of Guthrie. Garratt stood firm to get enough on it to push it away.

Sheehan was still a nuisance with his delivery and one wicked cross missed everyone at the far post before Ellis reached another corner from Evans but no-one was closer enough to get a touch on it.

Nathan Tyson replaced Grealish before Hayden Hollis was booked for kicking Ikpeazu close to the touchline.

Crewe were creating little to test Bialkowski but Pogba did get a header on target but it looked the power to draw a first meaningful save.

Josh Vela was booked for catching Evans before Steve Davis freshened things up by introducing AJ Leitch-Smith for the tiring Ikpeazu.

Crewe’s best effort of the night saw Osman force Bialkowski into a stunning tip over his crossbar following a well struck shot from 25 yards out. Ellis then header the corner a yard or so wide.

The home side continued to press looking for an equaliser but were caught out on the counter attack and suffered a killer second goal on 79 minutes. Crewe had been on the attack with Leitch-Smith but with the ball smuggled out of the Notts. County penalty area, Campbell Ryce broke away at pace and fed Murray, who cut in to score past Garratt. It was a switch break from the visitors and Crewe faced an almighty struggle.

Billy Waters replaced Inman but it was County who would score the decisive next goal to kill the game as a contest. An Ellis clearance was returned with interest and Murray raced clear to slot home his second goal of the evening with 9 minutes left.

With the minutes ticking away, Murray, in search of a hat-trick shot straight at Garratt and the Crewe goalkeeper was also called upon to push away an effort by Tyson.

Crewe’s consolation goal came in the second minute of stoppage time via an Evans free-kick. The ball dropped invitingly to defender Ellis, who spun and shot on the turn and a slight deflection took it past Bialkowski for 3-1.

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