U's humble the Alex in EssexCrewe: Garratt, Turton, Davis, Guthrie, Ng (Nugent, 45), Jones (Ainley, 78), Hollands, Cooper, Kiwomya, Lowe (c), Dagnall (Udoh, 73)
Unused Subs: Richards, Wintle, Kirk, Lowery
Attendance: 2,931 (185 Crewe)
In-form Colchester United humbled Crewe Alexandra at the Weston Homes Community Stadium with a four-goal display to end a run of seven straight Crewe wins against the U’s in Essex.
Kurtis Guthrie glanced home a near post header in the first period, before a defensive mistake allowed Owen Garvan to double the advantage in the second half, which was quickly followed by a fortuitous Drey Wright third. Brennan Dickenson added a fourth deep into stoppage time on an afternoon to forget for the Alex.
Crewe Manager Steve Davis stuck with the same side that saw off Morecambe in the week, with Callum Saunders ruled out of a place on the bench through injury alongside medium-term absentees George Ray & Billy Bingham.
The opening stages proved a cagey low-tempo affair with both sides getting a feel for the ball, before The U’s took the lead from a set-piece situation completely out of the blue.
Owen Garvan played a 20th minute driven right-sided corner to the near post, where giant striker Kurtis Guthrie glanced an inch-perfect header across goal into the far corner for 1-0.
Four minutes later & it was a Garvan set-piece causing problems again, his deep free-kick played to the back post was met by the head of Tom Eastman. He didn’t make a perfect connection, but Ben Garratt was still forced to claw the effort out of the top right hand corner.
With their tails up, Colchester continued to press & it took a magnificent, world class, save from Garratt to prevent the deficit being doubled. Some sloppy passing play 20-yards out allowed the U’s in down the left & the cross to the back post left Richard Brindley with the seemingly easy headed goal, but Garratt made himself big & stuck out a firm left hand to thwart the right back.
36 minutes on the clock & the Alex registered their first shot on goal. A quick break up-field involving Jones & Dagnall led to George Cooper finding space 20-yards from goal, but he thrashed his shot high & wide.
The final opportunity of the half, predictably, came from a Colchester set-piece. Garvan’s corner was met by the head of Brennan Dickenson who powered in a low header, but Garratt dived down low to his left to save – & he held on with attackers incoming.
Colchester almost doubled their lead in fortuitous circumstances five minutes into the second half, left-back Dickenson’s attempted driven cross being miscued & lashing just inches over the bar at the near post with Garratt beaten.
The 55th minute brought three minutes of continuous activity & chances. First, Cooper showed good composure on the edge of the box to slip in Kiwomya behind, with the winger’s first time shot blocked behind for a corner.
Half-time substitute Ben Nugent then took a deft touch in the box & appeared to have been tripped by a Colchester man, but the referee waved away with penalty claims to the fury of the big defender.
Colchester went straight up the other end & Craig Slater tested Garratt down low from 25-yards, before the ball was immediately bowled up-field & Dagnall found half a yard in the box to thrash an effort goalwards that was blocked behind again.
For a ten minute spell from just after the hour mark, Crewe put some serious pressure on the Colchester goal, being almost camped in the U’s half & a neat flowing move from back to front almost forced the equaliser, but Dagnall’s half chance was blocked on the angle.
Crewe were in the ascendency, but a defensive error from Cooper on 72 minutes, passing the ball to Garvan for a free run on goal, paved the way for 2-0. The midfielder showed composure to advance on goal & coolly slotted low into the corner.
Despite Crewe’s second half improvement, the game was all but finished as a contest five minutes later, with Drey Wright adding his name to the scoresheet for 3-0. The winger got to the by-line on the right, drove in a low cross which somehow found its way into the far corner.
With their three goal advantage, the hosts saw out the game in confident style, keeping possession well & frustrating Crewe as they endeavoured to find a way back into the game –but it failed to materialise, despite sub Dan Udoh’s 88th minute rasping strike flying inches over the crossbar.
To rub salt into the wounds further, Colchester added a fourth deep into stoppage time, the impressive Dickenson taking his chance on the angle from 20-yards, firing low across Garratt into the corner to cap off the disappointing afternoon.