Lowe and Jones on target as Crewe grab a fantastic three points.
Crewe Alexandra bounced back from last week’s disappointing defeat to Cheltenham to record a superb result over Doncaster Rovers this afteroon. Midfielder James Jones scored his first goal of the season with three minutes left on the clock to seal a 2-1 win after a strong Doncaster Rovers side had cancelled out Ryan Lowe’s first half opener from the penalty spot. It was Crewe's first home of the season and Jones' first goal since he netted in a 3-2 win at Colchester back in February 2015.
Zoumana Bakayogo did superbly to produce a splendid cross to the far post and Ollie Turton’s knock down gave Jones his chance to turn and fire past Marko Marosi.
Crewe had to ride their luck at times and Doncaster Rovers will be ruing a host of missed opportunities, but Steve Davis’ side showed great character to go again after we were penalised for shirt pulling at a corner to allow Tommy Rowe to equalise from the penalty spot.
After resting six players for the club’s Checkatrade Trophy tie at Accrington Stanley, as expected Steve Davis reverted back to his first choice strike force of Chris Dagnall and Ryan Lowe.
Winger Alex Kiwomya also returned to the starting line-up ahead of Charlie Kirk after being on the substitutes’ bench at the Crown Ground and the boss reverted back to his original defence partnership of Harry Davis and Jon Guthrie.
Of the six changes in mid-week, Jones was the only player to retain his place with Billy Bingham having to settle for a place on the bench.
Left-back Zoumana Bakayogo shook off the late knock he sustained during our 3-0 win on Tuesday night to retain his place for the visit of Doncaster Rovers.
A pre-match downpour resulted in ideal conditions to zip the ball around and despite the weather both sides were eager to play the right way. In the early exchanges, both teams took a bit of time to adjust to the weather conditions and genuine chances were limited.
Doncaster Rovers posed a threat with captain James Coppinger influential in midfield and strikers Andy Williams and John Marquis willing runners. Williams forced an early save from goalkeeper Ben Garratt after Turton had slipped on the edge of the penalty area. Garratt stood up well to save with his foot. New signing Fraser Richardson also whistled a long range effort over the Crewe crossbar.
The best opportunity in the opening 10 minutes saw Bakayogo nearly pick out Lowe inside the box but he couldn’t quite reach it. Four minutes later, Crewe took the lead. Danny Hollands initially did well to break play up and he fed Lowe, who instantly played Dagnall wide on the right. Dagnall delivered a magnificent cross to pick out his strike partner inside the six-box and Lowe stole in to head home for his fourth goal of the season.
Doncaster responded with their best move of the early exchanges with full-back Cedric Evinia finding his captain Coppinger with a low cross but it seemed to hit his shin and went harmlessly wide of the target. Jon Guthrie then awkwardly sliced a cross from Richardson onto his own crossbar. It was a lucky escape as Doncaster began to get a foothold in the game.
Coppinger fired a free-kick into the Crewe wall from the edge of the box and Dagnall showed his commitment to the cause by taking the rebound in his mid-drift.
On 26 minutes, Doncaster couldn’t believe they didn’t equalise when another dangerous cross from Richardson only just eluded Jon Marquis and behind him Tommy Rowe. A counter-attack from our own corner then saw Marquis carry the ball up the pitch and after he had glided past Turton, his low cross to the far post only needed a touch from Williams, but again he couldn’t stretch enough to turn it home.
A cross from Coppinger found Marquis inside the Crewe box but he couldn’t quite direct his header on goal to trouble Garratt.
Crewe were posing a threat on the break as well with a Lowe cross nearly picking out the advanced Cooper.
Marquis was booked for re-entering the pitch without permission after he had left the pitch for treatment for a bloody eye.
An entertaining first half ended with Crewe ahead thanks to Lowe’s close range header and our advantage could have been doubled in the final minute but Cooper couldn’t quite steer his cross over to find Dagnall in space and he was forced wide.
Early on in the second half, Crewe conjured up a good chance after Kiwomya had found Lowe and his weighted lay-off found Jones but on this occasion he couldn’t get his shot on target.
Almost immediately, Garratt, who was excellent throughout had a race from his line to prevent Williams from taking the ball past him after the Doncaster striker had read a short back pass from Bakayogo.
On 53 minutes, a long ball from Jones then gave Dagnall a chance to be a nuisance and after a swift twist and turn he forced a good save from Marosi.
Hollands was then booked for a foul on Blair and from the resultant free-kick, the visotirs created a lovely opening for Coppinger but Garratt was again equal to it to make a fine save.
Garratt produced his finest save of the afternoon to claw out a header from Williams that was destined for the top corner. It was a wonderful save to keep us ahead.
On 63 minutes a superb cross from Cooper picked out Dagnall and his flying header was pushed behind by the Doncaster goalkeeper. It would have been some goal.
Doncaster began to really pile the pressure on and the excellent Bakayogo did well again to deny Marquis from close range and then he did likewise to block a shot from Rowe. Rowe also had a deflected effort that had the busier of the two goalkeepers, Garratt, scrambling across his goal to push it behind.
From the corner, a massive melee only needed a touch inside the six yard box but Crewe stood firm and we managed to smuggle it away again. Crewe were holding on and Steve Davis introduced Ray and Bingham for Cooper and Kiwomya.
On 81 minutes, Doncaster won a corner after a shot from Middleton deflected inches wide of Garratt’s right hand post. As the corner was delivered, Davis was penalised for shirt pulling and referee Probert pointed to the spot. Referee’s are on the lookout for that type of offence and although it was a soft reward, Doncaster were gifted a passage back into the game. Lowe put the ball beyond Garratt to equalise.
Doncaster probably deserved the equaliser and you could argue looked the more likely to go on and win it, when Rowe hit the side netting with a great effort.
Crewe though would not lie down through and settle for a draw and went in search of a dramatic winner. Bakayogo carried the fight and with three minutes remaining, his fantastic cross found the opposite full-back Turton at the far post and his knockdown found Jones. The midfielder got it out of his feet, turned and fired low to seal a superb three points for the Railwaymen.
Crewe: Garratt, Turton, Bakayogo, Davis, Guthrie, Hollands, Jones (Bingham), Kiwomya (Ray), Cooper, Dagnall, Lowe