Crewe Alexandra's recent good run on the road came to an end at Blackpool this afternoon after the home side scored twice in the second half to condemn Crewe to their first defeat in five away games.
After Crewe had looked fairly comfortable in the first half and had some decent openings involving Brad Inman and captain David Fox, it was certainly the Seadsiders creating the better chances in the second 45 minutes. The deadlock was finally broken on 64 minutes when Crewe failed to clear a corner properly and full-back Hayden White lashed home after the ball was returned back across our box.
The points were sealed with three minutes remaining when substitute Chris Atkinson tripped Blackpool's playmaker Jack Redshaw inside the penalty area and the Blackpool number 10 got up to dispatch the spot-kick past Ben Garratt.
Crewe Alexandra boss Steve Davis made one change from the side that drew 0-0 with Burton Albion on Tuesday evening. James Jones’ impressive impact as a second half substitute at the Pirelli Stadium saw him recalled to the starting line-up for the first time this season. Jones had recently returned from a shoulder injury and replaced the unlucky Chris Atkinson at Bloomfield Road.
Atkinson was named on the substitutes’ bench alongside Ryan Colclough and youngsters Callum Ainley and George Cooper. James Baillie, Callum Saunders and reserve goalkeeper Danijel Nizic made up the full compliment.
In the opening couple of minutes a quick through ball from Crewe captain David Fox released Marcus Haber through the middle of the Blackpool back line but to his credit goalkeeper Colin Doyle had read the situation well enough to rush from his goal and clear with his feet.
Ben Garratt also enjoyed a fairly early touch when the lively Jack Redhsaw whipped over a dangerous looking cross into our six-yard box, but if Mark Cullen had been able to apply a touch then he would have been judged offside anyway.
A strong run from Brad Inman saw him skip past two challenges and after seemingly being clipped with the second one, it allowed the physical Hayden White to move across and block his path towards goal. Inman was not granted the luxury of a free-kick when perhaps he should have been for the original infringement.
On eight minutes, Cullen twisted and turned just inside the Crewe penalty area but his eventful shot was easily gathered by Garratt. At the other end, Inman went closer with a low drive that just passed the left hand post.
Crewe produced some wonderful passing football that stemmed from goalkeeper Ben Garratt and Ben Nugent playing out from the back to move fluently up the pitch and Adam King found Ollie Turton on the overlap. His accurate cross found the head of Haber but his effort just lacked the direction and power to really test Doyle.
Redshaw enjoyed a mazy dribble close to the Alex supporters in the north stand but he was eventually crowded out before he could a team-mate inside a crowded six-yard box. David Norris forced Garratt into his first meaningful shot after he was given too much freedom some 20 yards from our goal. His shot on the half volley was straight at Garratt.
On 18 minutes, another encouraging passing move down the Crewe left, involved full-back Guthrie and Inman and the ball found its way to Fox, who was unfortunate not to hit the target from 25 yards.
Ray, wearing his protective mask, was cautioned for a trip on Cullen on the edge of the box but Redshaw over hit his delivery on this occasion.
Approaching the 20th minute mark and the influential Fox forced Doyle into a smart save after he found space again to let fly from 25 yards. The Blackpool goalkeeper got both hands to his powerful drive and although Haber reacted first to keep the ball alive, Turton couldn’t pick out a white shirt with his cross back into the box.
Harry Wilson also had a shot blocked by the covering Norris, as Crewe tried to convert their possession into genuine chances. Crewe’s build up play was fine but we just needed that touch of real quality when the ball was crossed or played in. Inman and Wilson combined again at pace but Wilson’s shot was blocked and looped harmlessly through to Doyle.
Before the half time interval, Redshaw did fire the ball into the back of the Crewe Alexandra are Cullen had slipped him through but the Crewe defenders knew he had strayed a couple of yards offside.
The second period started with another long range effort from Fox but his shot was blocked and he needed attention after being called in the base of his back by Bright Osayi-Samuel. The Crewe Alexandra captain wasn’t able to continue though and was replaced by Chris Atkinson a couple of minutes later. Turton took the captain’s armband.
Crewe continued to do much of the pressing with the home side contend to try and hit us on the counter attack through the pace of Cullen and the craft of Redshaw.
On 57 minutes, Garratt produced a stunning save to deny Jim McAlister the opening goal. A flowing move down the Crewe right hand side, saw Norris lay possession out wide to his full-back David Ferguson and his instant cross was met by Norris on the side volley. The Alex number one showed great agility to keep it out and McAlister couldn’t quite believe he had.
McAlister then shot wastefully wide whilst under pressure by Turton after the ball had popped out to him via the foot of Brad Potts. Ray also had to shuffle across to block an effort from Blackpool’s wide man Osayi-Samuel.
From our own corner, Crewe were so nearly hit on the break. Nugent had headed a James Jones cros s into the gloves of Doyle and his excellent distribution saw the Seasiders break at pace. Crewe were outnumbered and the home side played it right to get Redshaw in on goal but the covering Nugent did superbly to block it and spin it behind for a corner.
Crewe dealt with the first cross entering our penalty area but Cullen did well to shield a loose ball close to our by-line and he fed Tom Aldred and he drilled over a cross to where Hayden White reacted first to get a shot off. His powerful drive certainly took a slight deflection on its way into the Crewe net and the home side had the advantage on 64 minutes.
Five minutes later, Blackpool should have stretched their lead to 2-0. Cullen defeated the offside trap to race down the Crewe left and his low cross missed out the sliding Ray, but Redshaw couldn’t keep his effort down and it sailed over the crossbar.
Steve Davis made his second change of the afternoon with Saunders replacing Wilson to offer Haber some more support. Haber was booked for catching Aldred.
Blackpool substituted their goalscorer White for Emmerson Boyce and winger Osayi –Samuel made way for Jarrett Rivers.
Haber and Saunders combined pretty quickly, with the big Canadian cushioning a pass from Turton but Saunders’ shot was blocked. Moments later Inman fired wide of the mark from the edge of the box.
Kwame Thomas also came on for the home side for the hard working Cullen.
As the game entered the final 10 minutes, Redshaw, who had threatened the Crewe goal more than most forced Garratt into another save after a loose clearance from Guthrie had fallen to him on the edge of the box. His shot was on target but was gathered by the Crewe goalkeeper at the second attempt.
Our final change of the game saw Colclough come on for King but it was the Blackpool sub Thomas involved for Blackpool's killer second goal on 87 minutes. He broke the offside trap to keep the ball alive inside the box and a lunging tackle from Atkinson caught Redshaw for a penalty. The Blackpool number 10 dusted himself down to calmly slot past Garratt and seal the points for the Seasiders.