Deadlock not broken as defences on top at the Alexandra Stadium
.It ended goalless at Gresty Road with both sides not doing enough to win all the three points. Neither goalkeeper was extensively tested in the Easter drizzle with Crewe Alexandra certainly enjoying the better of the possession over the 90 minutes but the veteran stopper Brian Jensen not forced into too many saves
Crewe kept going to try and break down an organised and determined Crawley defence. There were a few half chances with a late chance falling to captain Harry Davis via a corner but the defender couldn’t quite arrange his feet to get a shot off after Brad Inman had fired it back across the six-yard box.
Steve Davis named an unchanged side and named three strikers again with Nicky Ajose and Lauri Dalla Valle flanking Uche Ikpeazu. Ryan Colclough was named on the substitutes’ bench following his winning goal late on against Sheffield United last week.
Crewe made a really encouraging start to a game that always had that edge of tension involved in it. No-one was willing to make a mistake that could prove costly in the battle to remain in League One. Man of the Match, Greg Leigh thumped an early shot that Jensen did well to get down and push out and the left back’s follow up effort was blocked.
Some early positive runs from Jamie Ness and Uche Ikpeazu certainly lifted a vibrant and expectant crowd and Dalla Valle dragged an early effort wide of the mark. Likewise Crawley’s dangerman Izale McLeod did at the other end after the ball had dropped invitingly into his path on the edge of the penalty area.
Crawley lost defender Dean Leacock through injury after just 20 minutes and he was replaced by Ryan Dickson.
Five minutes later, some good approach play from Nicky Ajose and Leigh found Anthony Grant on the edge of the box but his shot was just too high to test Jensen.
Turton then did superbly up against Mcleod and he spun a ball down the touchline that allowed Dalla Valle to run in behind Dickson. The Finnish striker produced a splendid cross that only needed a touch from Ikpeazu and Ajose inside the penalty area. It was a promising build up and Crewe looked to be the more creative side in the opening half an hour.
The former Crewe Alexandra forward Mathias Pogba struggled to make an impact up against the athletic Leigh and it was no surprise that he was named the sponsors’ Man-of-the-Match.
The visitors did enjoy the better of the closing stages of the first half with the impressive Davis and Tate forced to keep McLeod and Pogba at bay. Davis produced a superb tackle to halt the run of Gwion Edwards.
Those half openings continued towards the end of the first period. A searching pass from Ness was too far in front of Ajose and Ikpeazu had a late shot blocked after Dalla Valle and Turton had combined with purpose down the right hand side.
Grant was booked for tripping for Mcleod as he threatened to enter the Crewe half of the pitch.
Crawley re-appeared for the second half, playing at a more intense tempo but Ikpeazu fired over the crossbar in the opening minutes after Dalla Valle showed good feet inside the opposition box.
Dean Saunders’ side went awfully close to taking the lead when a loose clearance from Leigh fell invitingly to full-back Lanre Oyebanjo. He unleashed a powerful drive from the edge of the box that whistled just wide of the far post. Anthony Wordsworth also provided a dangerous cross from a free-kick close to the by-line that was thankfully headed away by Tate.
The game needed a spark and on the hour mark, Colclough was introduced for Ajose. An early run from the young winger won a free-kick and he also shot wide as he tried to inject some quality in the final third. Colclough tried to take the game to Crawley and was rather unlucky not to win a couple more free-kicks in dangerous areas. He was also booked for a lunging tackle on Sonny Bradley.
The hard working Atkinson was a bit unfortunate to see his ship rest on the top of the netting after Turton and Dalle Valle had combined again down the right hand side. A low cross from Leigh evaded everyone as well.
Uche ran himself into the ground and the fresh legs of Inman were introduced to see if we get move joy by running in behind. Crewe lined up with a forward line of Inman, Dalla Valle and Colclough for the closing stages.
Crewe tried to build some real momentum in the closing stages. Ness shot wide from distance and a late chance didn’t quite fall to Davis from a corner after Inman had drilled it back across the box. It rather hit the Alex skipper and ran through to Jensen.
In truth, Crawley conjured up the better of the late opportunities. Danger man McLeod shot twice straight at Paul Rachubka and the Alex keeper had to be alert to push an effort from Gavin Tomlin around for a corner.
There was a real scare for Crewe late on from a corner as Bradley seemed to get a positive touch at the far post but the well placed Grant was on hand to hook it from the line. It was heart in the mouth time but in truth neither team to claim all three points.