Crewe Alexandra staged a really spirited comeback to grab all three points at Colchester with new signing Ryan Lowe scoring a sensational injury time winner.
The Railwaymen had found themsleves 2-0 down after conceding either side of half-time but well worked goals from Ryan Colclough and Marcus Haber saw Crewe fight back and allowed substitute Lowe to produce his moment of brilliance. The experienced striker saw that Jones had strayed off his line before lobbing him superbly from 30 yards! It was some return for Lowe, who only signed on loan from Bury yesterday.
It marked Crewe's third away win of the season and our seventh consecutive win in Colchester.
After missing three really good opportunities in the first period and also having our man-of-the-match Ryan Colclough clipping the outside of the post, Crewe somehow found themselves 2-0 down after Colchester United scored either side of half time. With five minutes of the half remaining, winger Callum Harriott cut in before unleashing a superb shot that dipped under Ben Garratt’s crossbar. The opening goal had arrived from a moment of individual quality and disappointingly Crewe conceded again just two minutes into the second period.
The Railwaymen failed to clear a corner and after Billy Bingham had blocked a first effort on the line, he couldn’t prevent George Moncur lashing home his follow up.
Crewe, who always looked a threat through Colclough pulled one back on the hour mark with our leading scorer lashing home a clever knockdown from Marcus Haber.
Haber, who grew into the game in the second half deservedly levelled things up with ten minutes remaining. Our new loan signing Ryan Lowe was the provider, rolling the ball back for the grateful Haber to tap into an empty net after Colclough had sent Lowe behind the Colchester back line. It was a wonderfully worked goal.
Crewe Alexandra boss Steve Davis made three changes to the side that were well beaten by Peterborough United at the weekend. Jon Guthrie returned to the starting line-up ahead of Stephen Kingsley at left-back and Adam King came in for the battered and bruised Bradden Inman.
With Davis reverting to a 4-3-3 formation for the trip to North Essex, there was a start for the on-loan Harry Wilson. He formed an attacking three along with Saturday’s scorer Ryan Colclough and Canadian Marcus Haber. Callum Saunders dropped to the substitutes’ bench alongside our recent loan signing Ryan Lowe. The Bury forward signed on loan until early January yesterday afternoon to make the trip to Colchester.
Crewe Alexandra settled down into their passing game fairly early but were just trying to force that final ball in behind the Colchester United defence. After a succession of really crisp and accurate passes, a couple of forward passes were just a little long for Haber and King.
Colchester were certainly looking for joy down the Crewe right hand side, with the home side feeding winger Callum Harriott as often as possible, but the Alex captain Ollie Turton cut out a couple of early crosses. Full-back Matt Briggs did evade the Crewe right back with one decent delivery but the covering George Ray hacked it away inside the six-yard box.
The first half chance of the game arrived after 10 minutes with Chris Porter instinctively heading over from close range after George Moncur had clipped a testing cross into the Crewe box. Moments later, Garratt had to adjust his feet to deny Porter again after a back pass from Wilson saw the Crewe goalkeeper caught in two minds. With Colchester getting into their own passing rhythm, Moncur then spun and curled a shot inches high of the top corner as the U’s threatened to take the lead.
Colclough then sprung into action in the 19th minute, after cutting in from the left hand side he drilled a well struck shot that certainly had the Colchester United goalkeeper Jamie Jones scrambling across his goal as it brushed the post. It was a tremendous effort from the Crewe wide man and it was an indicator that we needed his ability to conjure something out of nothing in the game more.
Colclough was at it again with a fantastic run that saw him glide past defenders and reach the by-line. He got his head up to intelligently pull the back for Haber but the Canadian International was denied by the diving Jones, who got something on it to turn it behind for a corner.
On 27th minutes, midfielder Bingham hit a superb shot from 30 yards that Jones couldn’t handle and the ball bounced away from his gloves. Haber reacted quickest but side footed his follow up shot straight at Jones. It was another great chance for the Railwaymen to break the deadlock.
At the other end, Ray bravely stuck his head in front of a shot from Moncur and Nugent did likewise to block a shot from Joe Edwards. It was an open game that had a nice and competitive tempo to it.
Colclough again showed great ability to reach the by-line yet again and this time his clever pull back found James Jones running on it. Jones, who scored here last season, probably didn’t catch it as well as he would have liked and his shot was blocked. It was Crewe’s fourth really good chance to take the lead.
After Colclough’s fine burst, the Alex had to rely on George Ray to deny Chris Porter a clean shot at Garratt’s goal after a scramble had fallen invitingly at his feet just outside the six-yard box.
Crewe were left to rue those missed chances with five minutes of the first half remaining with a goal springing from literally nowhere. Harriott popped up on the opposite side of the pitch, cut in and unleashed an unstoppable shot from approaching 25 yards that dipped under Garratt’s crossbar. It was a thunderbolt of a shot that took the whole stadium by surprise and even possibly the Alex number one.
The Alex had to survive a late corner in first half stoppage time and Garratt eased that pressure with a very clean catch. Crewe’s most dangerous player Colclough still had to time to produce another good effort with his right foot but his firm shot was a yard wide.
Similarly to Saturday, Crewe were slow to start to start the second half and it proved costly from a corner after just two minutes of the restart. From Harriott’s corner, the ball was allowed to bounce inside the Crewe penalty area and after Billy Bingham had managed to stop the first effort from Moncur, he was defenceless to do the same to his follow up effort and Moncur smashed it into an unguarded net. From creating four really good chances, Crewe now found themselves 2-0 behind within the space of seven minutes.
That prompted an early change from the Alex boss with new loan signing Lowe replacing Wilson.
Colclough fired Crewe back into the game on the hour mark with a really well worked goal. The ball came in from the Alex right hand side and Haber did superbly well to head the ball down to the unmarked Colclough and he got over the ball to fire home his sixth of the season. It was just the lift we needed and Colclough had certainly deserved his goal.
Haber was beginning to have more of an influence on the game and he was combing better with the runs of Lowe. Haber also produced an excellent low cross that whistled right across the six-yard box. It only needed a definitive touch.
Colchester continued to be a threat though, especially through the influential Moncur. He pounced on a loose ball from Colclough to race at the Crewe defence but his final shot was straight at Garratt.
To their credit the U’s certainly didn’t settle for what they had and pressed forward when they could looking to kill the game off.
Crewe switched to a diamond formation with Colclough coming off the wing to operate behind Haber and Lowe.
The Railwaymen had plenty of the possession and the attacking trio combined on 80 minutes to open the Colchester defence up to equalise. Colclough played a lovely ball through to Lowe and he kept his composure to find Haber, who tapped home from close range. It had been a wonderful comeback from the Alex.
With Colchester becoming a bit anxious, it was the Alex looking the more likely side to nick all three points. After Guthrie pinched possession close to the edge of the Colchester penalty area, Colclough shot over the top of the crossbar.
In the final few minutes, Kingsley had to come on for the injured Ray with Guthrie moving across to centre-half. With the clock ticking away, Lowe produced a sensational winner in stoppage time. Lowe had the quality to see Jones had strayed off the line and he expertly lobbed him over him from 30 yards before racing off to slide in front of the 122 travelling Alex fans. It was a sensational end to mark a dramatic encounter.