Nicky Ajose proved to be the match winner again at Gresty Road when he slotted home a Marcus Haber cross from close range on 38 minutes. It was Ajose’s eighth goal of his loan spell and his priceless winning goal puts seven points between ourselves and tonight’s visitors Yeovil.
It could have been a more comfortable night for the Alex with Ajose hitting the post and he also missed two other decent chances after being put clear on goal. Although he scored the winning goal, as a natural goalscorer, Ajose would have been disappointed not to have at least taken the match ball home with him.
It was a deserved victory for the Alex who carved the better of the chances throughout the evening and young James Jones will be disappointed not to have added to his debut goal at senior level at Colchester over the weekend. The teenager had two decent chances in the second half with one shot blocked and he put the other one wide.
Marcus Haber’s late cameo appearance at Colchester United earned him a recall for the visit of Yeovil Town with the Finn Lauri Dalle Valle missing out. Haber offered some physical presence up front up against a giant Yeovil back line and worked tirelessly for the cause.
Alan Tate moved into a more conventional back three after being utilised in a sitting midfield role in Essex on Saturday.
The visitors named AJ Leitch-Smith in a more attacking role behind their two forwards and the former Crewe Academy graduate was certainly involved things early on. The Yeovil captain Joe Edwards had the first effort with a shot on run before Leitch-Smith went down under a challenge from George Ray but the referee wasn’t interested and waved away his appeal and that of a few of his team-mates. It didn’t look a penalty.
Ollie Turton at right wing back had to make an impeccably timed challenge to deny Nathan Smith from making inroads inside the Crewe penalty area before Ray was booked, well, for having the ball whacked against his back as he tried to retreat back into position. It was a strange booking.
Crewe played in spurts in the first 20 minutes and were feeding off half chances. Nicky Ajose shot over from 25 yards out after skipping over a challenge from Edwards.
Edwards shot wide from a free-kick before Gozie Ugwu hooked a Leitch-Smith pass into the gloves of Garratt at his near post.
The Railwaymen began to take control of the game in the second half of the first period and the pressure began to tell with chances created. Pushing Tate further forward in the anchor role paid off as it provided Ness and Jones with more space to operate further up the pitch.
On 36 minutes, Harry Davis won possession back to feed Ness and he instantly looked for the movement of Ajose ahead of him. He raced onto his perfect pass but he didn’t get enough on his attempted lob and made it easy for Artur Krysiak in the Yeovil goal.
Ajose never lets misses affect him too much though and within the space of two minutes he was in the right place at the right time again to convert Haber’s excellent cross across the six yard box. The big Canadian did brilliantly to take a pass from Ness in his stride and hold off the intentions of Ben Nugent before delivering such an inviting pass for Ajose to poach home from close range.
The breakthrough gave Crewe extra confidence heading in half time and in truth the Alex didn’t want the interval to come so soon, such was their dominance in possession.
At the break, Yeovil lost their captain Edwards through injury after he had taken a hefty knock in the first half. He was replaced by James Berrett for the second half.
A fine break from the impressive Greg Leigh nearly saw him find Haber with an early cross, but on this occasion it was just a little high for the target man. Stephen Arthurworry was booked for the Glovers for coming through the back of Ajose and Garratt had to be alert to tip away a cross from Smith before it reached Kieffer Moore at the far post.
The Alex goalkeeper was hardly tested on the night and will be delighted with another clean-sheet. In fact, the visitors’ best effort came from our former player Leitch-Smith, who's goal bound effort from 25 yards out was collected by Garratt. It was on target and heading for the top corner.
Ness was booked for sliding into full-back Liam Shephard after the ball was played up field but his determination to get across showed the work ethic of the Alex. Berrett was also cautioned for catching Leigh.
A clever flick from Ajose found Grant on the edge of the box but his shot was deflected over the crossbar and out for a corner.
Crewe were again on top of the proceedings and a superb flowing move saw Leigh, Ness and Ajose all combined to switch the play to James Jones but his powerful shot was blocked. It would have been some goal.
Almost immediately Jones was presented with another chance when a deflected shot from Leigh found him at the far post but he didn’t hit his shot as sweetly this time and it went well wide of the target.
In an attempt to get a lifeline back into the game, Sam Hoskins replaced Hayter and Jamar Loza came on for the towering Moore.
It was Crewe looking the more likely side to score again though and after Haber had won a header for Ajose, his pass found Jones but he was just denied by a last ditch tackle from Arthurworry. Ness couldn’t quite gather the rebound.
With time running out, Yeovil began to get more of a grip on the possession, but without really testing Garratt enough.
On 82 minutes, Ajose raced onto a superb pass from the outstanding Turton and he was so unlucky to see his shot hit the post and rebound safely into the hands of Krysiak.
At 1-0, Yeovil were still in the contest and Crewe had to defend their box from high balls going in there. Ray made an outstanding block on a shot from Loza.
With four minutes left, Ajose raced clear on goal again from a superb pass from Ness and the whole of the Alexandra Stadium thought he had sealed the points when he beat Krysiak but somehow it drifted inches wide. No-one could quite believe it as they waited for the net to rustle.
Moments later another strong run from Haber saw him reach the by-line again but there was no-one there to take full advantage of his excellent approach play and his inviting low cross across the six yard box.
With time running out, Grant curled a late effort wide before Crewe switched the match winner Ajsoe for the more defensive Anthony Stewart. He left the field to a standing ovation because although he would have been disappointed not to have had a hat-trick on the night, his goal scoring instinct had claimed another three points for the Alex.