Crewe Alexandra’s tough start to the season continued at Gresty Road this evening with Notts County inflicting a second 3-0 home defeat in a number of days. The on-loan Wolverhampton Wanderers forward Jake Cassidy scored twice with Shaun Harrad getting the other.
The game was quite similar to Saturday’s game against Colchester United with Crewe creating a few decent chances before Cassidy swept home a Gary Thompson cross a minute before half-time.
Harrad drilled home a second goal on 51 minutes after Jon Guthrie was left exposed against two inside the penalty area. Ten minutes later and Shaun Derry’s side sealed the points emphatically with Cassidy tapping in from close range after reacting first to another low cross.
Steve Davis made one change to his Crewe side from Saturday with Vadaine Oliver coming in to replace Oliver Turton. Vadaine Oliver partnered Marcus Haber up front with young Billy Waters switching to a wider role.
Crewe Alexandra made a bright start to the game with Oliver heading across the penalty box and Waters nearly found Haber with a clever reverse pass. Waters also had a drilled shot collected by the vastly experienced Roy Carroll after it took a wicked deflection off of Hayden Hollis.
Carroll also had to come a long way for a punch after a Matt Tootle free-kick invited him off his line but the Northern Ireland misjudged his punch. Haber was unlucky not to direct his header goalwards.
The only downside on what had been an encouraging start was an early booking for Anthony Grant for a challenge on Harrad as the ball sailed over his head.
Crewe were presenting a threat from set pieces usually provided by Jamie Ness and captain Tootle. Carroll came and produced a strong punch to a Ness delivery before County had their first real chance on 31 minutes. Garratt palmed out a shot from Cassidy and he responded brilliantly to make himself big enough to save from Harrad in the follow-up. The Crewe goalkeeper wouldn’t have seen the assistant’s flag go up.
More good approach play from the Railwaymen allowed Tate to find Oliver with a chipped pass up to him. He in turn found Waters and a little burst and chip found Haber, but his powerful header was a yard wide.
Although they were half chances, Crewe were playing some decent stuff. The momentum was halted a little when George Ray limped off with a groin strain and had to be replaced by Adam Dugdale.
The first half ended though with the visitors going in at the break ahead. Crewe had been on the attack and were neatly retaining possession until a stray pass from Waters close to half way released them on a counter-attack. The ball was swept out to Thompson on the right hand side and his low cross was swept home into the bottom corner by Cassidy.
There was still enough time on the clock for Greg Leigh to poke a ball through to Haber, who instantly turned and got a shot off. Carroll seemed to fumble in front of Waters but the former Manchester United jumped on the loose ball before an alert could make anything of it.
Crewe were on the front foot in the early exchanges of the second half with a cross from Leigh being flicked on by Oliver and a stretching Haber just couldn’t apply a decisive touch at the far post.
Just when Crewe looked to be settling down in their stride again, Notts County scored a second goal after Crewe failed to evacuate the box quickly enough from a corner. The ball was played back in and Guthrie, who had stayed in, was left exposed at the far post. Harrad was presented with a chance to drill a shot goalwards and a diving Tate flicked the ball past a helpless Garratt. Crewe faced another enormous struggle.
Crewe tried to hit back almost immediately but the busy Waters took an extra touch when trying to take a Haber pass and his eventual shot was deflected behind for a corner.
Just after the hour mark, Notts County broke again to kill the game off. Liam Noble won possession from Grant in the centre of the pitch and before you could blink Cassidy was there again to tap in from close range.
Notts County were firmly in control and a double substitution saw Turton and Atkinson replace Ness and Guthrie. Leigh switched to left back. Atkinson was booked, as was Thompson for County for a foul on Ness. He was later replaced by Zeli Ismail.
With the points sealed, Derry rested Harrad for Ronan Murray. Crewe kept going but genuine chances were few and far between. Carroll looked commanding again to take a high cross from Leigh away from the head of Haber.
Grant did register a shot on target in the 87th minute but his effort lacked real conviction to trouble Carroll and Tootle hit a late free-kick into a stubborn Notts County wall.