Crewe Alexandra recorded their third win on the bounce with a hard fought victory over Peterborough United thanks to a penalty from Marcus Haber on the half an hour mark. Adam Dugdale was pulled back at the far post by Michael Bostwick for the penalty award and tdefender he Posh was red carded for the offence as he was the last man.
The visitors also had Jack Baldwin dismissed in stoppage time for a second yellow card after he clattered into Ollie Turton in the centre of the pitch.
Brad Inman had a late chance to make it more comfortable after he had collected a flick on from substitute George Cooper but he stirred his shot just wide of the far post.
At the other end of the pitch, Ben Garratt was actually not called into action on too many occasions but he made a good save to deny Peterborough’s star man Marcus Maddison in the second half, pushing his firm shot behind for a corner.
Steve Davis elected to rest youngster George Cooper and recall the club’s Canadian International Marcus Haber for the visit of second placed Peterborough United. New loan signing Danny Haynes began on the substitutes’ bench in place of Vadaine Oliver.
The weather conditions at the Alexandra Stadium made it difficult for both sides when trying to get the ball down and play. The swirling wind and rain didn’t help but the match still kicked off at an incredible tempo with both sides looking to make the decisive breakthrough.
The impressive Marcus Maddison had an early sight at the Crewe goal but captain Matt Tootle got across to apply a necessary block. Tootle was then penalised for a foul on the lively Peterborough forward but from the resultant free-kick Anthony Grant rushed out to throw himself at Michael Bostwick’s well struck free-kick.
Peterborough continued to be a threat with Maddison always lively and Jon Taylor busy on the other side. The well positioned Alan Tate did well to poke a dangerous cross from Taylor behind for a corner. Maddison also hit a free-kick into the Crewe wall after Turton had been booked for diving in.
Crewe were offering a threat in the final third as well, with Grant nearly finding a clever run from Haber but it was cut out by the outstretched leg of Bostwick.
A Tootle free-kick found George Ray inside the crowded Peterborough area and he was unfortunate to see his downward header pushed away by Ben Alnwick for a corner.
From the resultant corner, Crewe kept the ball alive and when the ball was returned with interest, Dugdale went in again at the far post but went down after being impeded by Michael Bostwick. The Peterborough defender was shown a straight red card for a professional foul. He didn’t protest too much but Posh were down to ten men after 30 minutes.
Marcus Haber stepped up from the penalty spot and although Alnwick got a strong had to it, it still had enough power to defeat the Posh goalkeeper. It was Haber’s fourth goal of the season and now Crewe had the man advantage and a goal to build on with an hour left.
Darren Ferguson quickly made a substitution to replace the absence defender. Gabriel Zakuani came on for the sacrificed Jon Taylor.
From a drop ball contested after Crewe had kicked the ball out so a Peterborough player could receive treatment, the ball hit Alan Tate and fell nicely to Maddison and he calmly slotted Conor Washington in on goal, but he uncharacteristically for him dragged his shot wide from a really good position. It was arguably the visitors' best chance of the night.
Crewe nearly doubled their advantage before the break with the probing Grant again finding the run of Inman inside the Peterborough box. Although the Aussie winger couldn’t quite take it in his stride, the ball broke across to Haber with Alnwick stranded. He must have thought he had scored his second goal of the night but Baldwin did superbly to provide a goal saving block.
Although Crewe had the extra man, you would expect a Ferguson side to come out and give it a real go in the second half. They quickly got control of the possession and pressed looking for an equaliser, but Crewe's back three stood firm, with Tate adding that calming influence.
Saying that on the break, Tootle provided an inch perfect cross for Haber but he couldn’t direct his header on target. Moments later, Inman produced a strong run to provide Haber with a half chance but he shot straight at Alnwick.
Turton also had a shot deflected wide and Joe Newell likewise for Posh as an exciting game ebbed and flowed. Maddison was the best performer on the night but he kept hitting his free-kicks into the Crewe wall.
A flowing passing move from the Railwaymen then saw the influential Grant find Inman and his shot rebounded off the grounded Peterborough goalkeeper and Haber was able to keep the ball alive inside the box. He found the supportive Greg Leigh, who quickly found Turton but his shot was a yard wide. Grant also had a shot deflected wide for a corner after a really forceful run from the centre of the pitch. It was no surprise when the Crewe number 42 was voted the sponsors Man-of-the-Match.
The Posh captain Jack Payne was booked for a foul on livewire Brandy before Kane Ferdinand replaced Jermaine Anderson. Soon after, Ferguson pushed on an extra forward with Nat Mendez-Laing coming on for Ricardo Santos.
Although Peterborough continued to press looking for an equaliser they didn’t trouble Garratt on too many occasions. Garratt did make a fine stop on 75 minutes pushing a shot from Maddison behind for a corner.
With time running out, the hard working Brandy was withdrawn for Cooper. The youngster produced a sublime flick to release Inman through on goal but he shot inches wide. If Inman had taken his late opportunity, it would have made it a more comfortable final few minutes, especially when the fourth official held up five minutes of stoppage time.
Crewe introduced the fresh legs of Jamie Ness for Inman and Cooper was booked for the second time in his short career for a trip in the corner. Grant was also booked for catching full-back Michael Smith late on.
Deep into stoppage time, Baldwin flew into a challenge on Turton with the ball gone and was shown a second yellow card and subsequently a red card. Crewe saw the remaining couple of minutes out against nine men.