Crewe Alexandra acquired their second successive clean-sheet against Chesterfield to pick up another point. In truth either side could have nicked the three points with both Alex goalkeeper Ben Garratt and Chesterfield's Tommy Lee making important saves at various stages of the game. Over a competitive 90 minutes though a draw was probably a fair result. It was Crewe’s fourth clean-sheet in the last six matches but again we could have created more genuine openings.
Steve Davis welcomed back forwards Danny Haynes and Febian Brandy after they were not permitted to play in the FA Cup against Sheffield United on Tuesday evening. But he did lose leading scorer Marcus Haber and young midfielder James Jones through International call-ups.
Paul Cook’s Chesterfield side made a bright start to the proceedings at Gresty Road and could have taken an early lead when Jay O’Shea placed a dangerous looking cross across the box but the prolific Eoin Doyle couldn’t apply a decisive touch to trouble Garratt.
Crewe found it difficult to create too much in the early passages of play, but a free-kick delivery from Oliver Turton was helped on by Harry Davis inside a crowded penalty but didn’t quite drop favourably. The overlapping Greg Leigh provided a splendid low cross across the six-yard box and it was dying for a touch.
Chesterfield’s Jimmy Ryan forced Garratt into his first meaningful save after unleashing a powerful drive from around 25 yards out. The Alex goalkeeper did exceptionally well to shuffle across and apply fingertips to the goal bound effort.
The visitors were also providing a major threat from corners with defenders Charlie Raglan heading into the side netting and the threat of their captain Ian Evatt heading straight at the well positioned Garratt. The Chesterfield captain also had another far post header off the line by a combination of Dugdale and Garratt.
Evatt was also cautioned for tripping Haynes after he had initially slipped. Crewe also had a shout for a possible penalty when Harry Davis looked to have been impeded inside the box but the referee waved away the appeals.
Inman also very nearly nicked the ball past Raglan to go clean through on goal but the Chesterfield defender read the situation perfectly to hook clear.
Doyle, with 17 goals in 18 games going into the game, was kept relatively quiet throughout but he did shoot straight at Garratt after Sam Clucas had hit us on the counter-attack. That was really his only effort on goal other than that really good chance in the opening few minutes.
The first half ended with the robust Sam Morsy booked for catching Inman with a high boot.
Danny Haynes was withdrawn at the break and was replaced by Cooper. The on-loan Notts County striker had struggled to make a significant impression in the game.
A telling pass from Grant released Inman into space and his cross was met by Brandy, but Evatt applied enough of a block to spin the ball into the grasp of Lee.
The influential Roberts had the ball in the net but was ruled out for offside after he had strayed just offside to collect a pass from Jimmy Ryan.
On 53 minutes, a superb pass from Turton freed Copper in space out on the right and his instant cross found Inman, but he couldn’t quite direct his downward header on target. It was Crewe’s best move of the match.
Roberts, the former Crewe loanee, was a constant threat when collecting the ball in those pocket positions off the front. He fired a shot against the diving Dugdale before he curled another effort just wide of the mark.
Harry Davis was booked for kicking the ball away and later Turton for catching Morsy.
Crewe began to look the more likely side to score. Brandy embarked on a promising solo run into the Chesterfield box with his final shot blocked and the impressive Guthrie couldn’t keep his half volley down after more superb approach play from Inman. It came at the defender at an awkward high to strike cleanly.
On 72 minutes, dangerman Roberts dipped a shot just over the Crewe crossbar but with Inman growing in confidence, Crewe conjured up the better of the half chances in the last third of the game.
Inman maybe should have shot with his left foot after being fed in behind Tendayi Darikwa by Grant, but wasn't decisive enough and Lee was able to smother the chance at his feet.
With Crewe hoping to nick the points, Turton drilled in an effort from 25 yards out that was well gathered by Lee and Leigh forced the Chesterfield goalkeeper into a smart save at his near post after being played in by Inman.
Cooper had a late shot blocked and Guthrie couldn’t grow high enough to get a strong contract on a cross from Cooper.
For all that improvement in the second half that decisive goal never came for the Railwaymen and Chesterfield could have won it late on when Morsy robbed Turton of possession but after wriggling past a couple of chances, he shot straight at Garratt.