Lowe on target as Crewe collect deserved point.
Ryan Lowe stooped to head home his 7th goal of the season from a George Cooper centre to give Crewe Alexandra the point they deserved for their efforts at Kenilworth Road. The Alex had to fight back after slipping behind to a Danny Hylton tap-in just before half-time.
Crewe controlled the encounter for large periods of the game and with both sides eager to play out from the back and through the lines, it made for an entertaining contest. Crewe arguably shaded the genuine chances stakes and were unfortunate to go in at the break a goal behind, but Lowe’s goal on 64 minutes made sure we came away with a share of the spoils.
Ray didn’t travel to Bedfordshire with the fit-again Ben Nugent named on the bench on his return. With James Jones away on international duty with Scotland Under-21s, the available position in midfield went to Billy Bingham. The experienced Danny Hollands returned to the starting line-up after being rested for the mid-week encounter against Wolverhampton Wanderers, as did defender Harry Davis in place of George Ray.
Young midfielder Ryan Wintle returned to the substitutes’ bench after making his first start of the season in the Checkatrade Trophy during the week. Tom Lowery, who made his senior debut when replacing Wintle in the second half against Wolves, was named on the bench again for the first time in a League encounter.
Charlie Kirk, who also made an impact as a second half substitute on Tuesday evening replaced Ainley in the starting line-up.
Crewe Alexandra created the first half chance of the afternoon in only the second minute. A tidy header from Hollands granted George Cooper with the time and space to clip a ball into the Luton box. Ryan Lowe touched it on to Kirk but he drilled his shot into the side netting.
Both teams soon settled into trying to play some stylish football but there were also early periods of the ball being in the air, as the home side aimed for the man in the mask Danny Hylton. He forced an early corner but nothing came of it with Turton well positioned to clear at the near post.
After ten minutes, a thrusting run from left-back Bakayogo created space for Lowe and Dagnall to combine for the first time and after a swift interchange, Dagnall brought the first save of the afternoon from the Luton goalkeeper Christian Walton. The keeper couldn’t grip it and he had to rely on his captain Scott Cuthbert to complete the clearance.
On 20 minutes, a spirited run down the right hand side from Turton allowed him to escape the clutches of Dan Potts and produce an accurate cross to the opposite wing for Kirk. The youngster pulled the ball down to tee-up Bingham and his low shot had to be palmed away by the diving Walton.
A loose ball from Cameron McGeehan then presented Cooper with an opportunity on the edge of the Luton box, but his shot was blocked by Cuthbert. It was the Railwaymen looking the more likely side to break the deadlock and you could sense the frustration of the home support. Olly Lee was beaten to the ball by Lowe and was booked for catching the Alex striker.
McGeehan registered Luton’s first effort on the Crewe goal after almost 28 minutes and the rough bounce from his curling effort saw the ball strike Garratt in his face before he was able to collect at the second attempt. Moments later, Jake Gray produced a wicked cross from a short corner that only needed a touch but thankfully for the Alex, it missed out everyone and went behind for a goal kick.
Crewe continued to get into some promising wide positions but hit goalkeeper Walton on too many occasions with the delivery.
Luton unlocked the Crewe defence two minutes before the half-time interval with a straight forward move. The ball was lifted over the top by Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu in the left back position and as Crewe waited for an offside flag that never materialised, Jack Marriott raced into the space and side-footed it across to give Hylton the simplest of tap-ins from close range.
After all of Crewe’s promising play in the first half, we somehow found ourselves 1-0 down from what was in truth a rare Luton attack.
At half time, young Lowery replaced Kirk to mark his league debut for the club. An early free-kick from Cooper saw Hollands get his head on it but he couldn’t quite direct it goalwards. Lowery was lively early on and had a shot deflected behind for a corner.
On 55 minutes, Billy Bingham rifled a shot from 30 yards out that had Walton scrambling across his goal to watch it bounce just wide of the target.
Just before the hour mark, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu became the second Luton player to be cautioned after he was penalised for pulling down Bakayogo. From the resultant free-kick, Cooper was a little unlucky not to see his well struck effort dip under the bar. It ended up on the roof of the netting.
Moments later, a fine pass from Cooper sent Bakayogo clear down the left but before he could look up and place a pass into the path of Lowe, the covering Cuthbert produced an excellent last ditch tackle.
Luton made their first chance with Alex Gilliead replacing Mpanzu.
Crewe levelled things up on 64 minutes with a superbly crafted move. Lowery confidently twisted and turned in possession before hitting a superb cross field pass to Cooper. Luton had granted Cooper too much space and he picked out the run of Lowe at the far post and he raced in to head past a defenceless Walton. Crewe were deservedly level.
Another good break from the Alex saw Dagnall retrieve possession and feed Lowe and he flicked possession into the path of Cooper but again Cuthbert did well to read the danger and he blocked the winger’s shot.
Bakayogo was booked for a foul on James Justin on the edge of the Crewe penalty area but Alan Sheehan couldn’t keep his left footed down enough to trouble Garratt.
As the game entered the final 10 minutes, it was the home side pressing. Nathan Jones also made a double substitution with Glen Rea and Josh McQuoid replacing Olly Lee and Jack Marriott.
From a deep corner, McGeehan won his header at the far post but Hylton could only volley his effort over the crossbar under pressure from Davis. It was a chance for a striker of his calibre.
Substitute McQuoid was presented with a chance but he couldn’t keep his effort on target from the edge of the penalty area.
Luton enjoyed the majority of the possession in the closing stages, with Crewe waiting for any opportunities to catch them on the counter attack. The Alex defended resolutely to collect a point.