Crewe Alexandra lost their first away game of the 2015/16 season but were left ruing some missed chances at a crucial time of the game.
The Railwaymen again conceded an early goal when the match-winner Paddy Madden headed home a cross from Tom Hopper after just ten minutes.
Although Sean McAllister could not have gone any closer with a shot that struck the underside of the crossbar, Crewe remained very much in the game though entering the second half and Marcus Haber, Billy Bingham and Jon Guthrie all had good chances to equalise before Madden slotted home his second goal on 65 minutes. The best chance had fallen to our makeshift left-back Guthrie at the far post, but from close range he couldn’t keep his shot down to draw the Railwaymen level.
Steve Davis named an unchanged squad of eighteen for the third consecutive match with the front three of Marcus Haber, Lauri Dalla Valle and Brad Inman all given another opportunity to provide the attacking threat at Glanford Park.
The former Crewe and Port Vale goalkeeper Joe Anyon started for Scunthorpe following Luke Daniels’ red card on the opening day of the season. Our former loanee midfielder Jamie Ness started on the substitutes’ bench following a slight calf injury.
In the opening seconds of the contest, Adam King delivered a cross from the right hand side that was collected by Anyon and after he had thrown the home side onto the front foot, the Alex defence just about managed to smuggle a cross from Paddy Madden away from the foot of the post just before Tom Hopper was able to pounce on the loose ball. Crewe then had to survive an early succession of corners but cleared our lines.
On six minutes, the home side should really have tested Ben Garratt for the first time. Madden burst through to reach the by-line and his accurate low cross found the unmarked Jack King at the far post but the Scunthorpe captain couldn’t keep his shot down. Fortunately for Crewe it was perhaps a good job that the cross had not fallen to Madden himself.
Four minutes later so it proved, as the early pressure told with Nugent left exposed down the left channel up against Hopper. The centre half seemed to stumble a little as he tried to chase down the former Leicester City youngster and he couldn’t recover in time to cut out his cross to the far post and there was Madden to nod home from close range.
With Bishop pulling a shot wide from the edge of the box, Crewe needed to settle down and get a foothold on the possession. After the early set-back, the Railwaymen did start to pass the ball with more purpose to make progress up the pitch and take some pressure off our own back-line.
Marcus Haber rose to win a really good header to send King through on goal but the teenager just couldn’t pull the trigger to test Anyon for the first time, as the Scunthorpe defence recovered in time to deflect it behind for a Crewe corner.
On 27 minutes, Crewe had an almighty escape after full-back Scott Laird hit a terrific cross field pass into our penalty area. Just as it looked as though Gary McSheffrey was going to double the home side’s advantage, Jon Guthrie produced a timely interception, but the loose ball fell to the supportive Sean McAllister and his lifted shot hit the underside of the crossbar and bounced to safety.
Four minutes later, Crewe conjured up a half chance for Haber following a swift break from inside our own half. King delivered a pass out to Brad Inman on the left and his chipped cross found Haber at the far post, but to be fair to the Canadian International, he was at a stretch to reach it and Anyon made a comfortable save. Moments later George Ray met a corner and needed treatment for a slight cut close to his eye. He reappeared with a bandage wrapped around his head.
With six minutes of the first half remaining, Crewe created their best chance after a period of possession football. Billy Bingham played the ball forward down the left wing for Haber and with David Mirfin more interested in wresting the striker in a physical battle the ball invitingly ran through to Inman. He raced in behind the Scunthorpe defence but couldn’t quite curl his effort into the far corner of Anyon’s net.
McAllister was booked for a foul on Dalla Valle in first half stoppage time but Bingham’s free-kick was too low to test the Scunthorpe defence as we headed into the interval.
A bright start to the second half saw Crewe move the ball down their left hand and after Inman had found Bingham, his low cross was just ahead of Dalla Valle and King was able to stick out his foot and divert it behind for a corner. If the ball had cleanly found the Finnish striker then he was in on Anyon’s goal for the first time. Nugent was then cautioned for clattering into the back of Madden in the centre circle.
Haber had a golden chance to equalise ten minutes into the second half after he had been slipped in perfectly by Inman. The Crewe forward was one-one-one but in delaying his shot, it allowed Mirfin to retreat and get enough on it to deflect it. Crewe didn’t even get a corner as the referee had adjudged that the final touch had belonged to Haber!
Two minutes later, Crewe nearly slipped 2-0 down after McShreffrey had slipped past the grounded Ray but somehow his low cross nipped a heel and it took it behind the onrushing Hopper and Bingham was able to clear the danger. It was McShreffrey’s last involvement as he was replaced Kevin Van Veen.
Ray joined his defensive partner Nugent in the book for a poor challenge on Hooper. The Alex also had the reflexes of Garratt to thank for saving superbly from a Hopper header and as the pressure began to increase, Madden shot just wide of the mark from an acute angle following a loose ball from Ray.
Crewe went close to drawing level just after the hour mark though when Bingham was rather unfortunate to see his shot on the turn deflected over for a corner. Moment later, Guthrie should have netted that equaliser when a dangerous ball from Inman had dropped to him inside the six yard box but the left back fired wastefully over with the goal at his mercy.
Colclough replaced Dalla Valle on 65 minutes but he had barely been on the pitch before Madden showed his clinical edge with another smart finish. The former Yeovil man had options inside a crowded penalty but he decided to take on the chance himself and he drilled a low shot into Garratt’s red hand corner. Darius Henderson replaced the lively Hooper almost immediately after the second goal.
Crewe were still capable of getting in behind the Scunthorpe defence though and after King had a shot blocked, Colclough just overrun the ball as Anyon rushed out to front him after Bingham had slipped him in.
Madden had the chance of a hat-trick after Van Veen had found his run down the Crewe right but on this occasion he didn’t apply enough curl on his effort to call Garratt into action again.
Chris Atkinson replaced captain David Fox and the armband was handed to Turton. Van Veen struck a 20 yard free-kick over the top of the bar as the Iron looked to kill the game off completely with 20 minutes remaining.
Steve Davis introduced youngster Callum Saunders for Haber, with Crewe needing a goal to create some pressure on the Scunthorpe defence in the closing stages. Saunders nearly applied a decisive touch after Guthrie had headed back across the six yard but the bounce took it over his head. Colclough then flashed a decent effort over the crossbar from the edge of the box.
There was still time for Anyon to deny the lively Colclough a late goal, as he smothered an effort virtually at his feet and then Garratt had to save from Adelakun, as the home side threatened to add a third in stoppage time. The match winner, Madden also shot well wide as he went in search of the matchball.