Crewe 1-2 Cambridge
Crewe: Garratt, turton, Ray (c), Nugent, Bakayogo (Ng, 76), Jones, Bingham, Cooke (Kiwomya, 76), Cooper, Dagnall, Bowery
Unused Subs: Dawber, Finney, Wintle, Ainley, Udoh
Goals: Legge OG (58)
Attendance: 3,759 (330)
Chris Dagnall’s 13th goal of the season was not enough to extend Crewe Alexandra’s mini-winning run as Cambridge United’s leading scorer Luke Berry scored twice to keep the U’s chances of a play-off place alive.
After Berry had fired the visitors ahead on 37 minutes when making the most of a second phase of play, the lively Dagnall drew Crewe level on 58 minutes as his cross shot was left by Jordan Bowery to nestle in the bottom corner.
The excellent Berry though took centre stage again to win the game via a well struck free-kick with 18 minutes remaining. His free-kick was whipped in past Garratt. Cambridge had to hold on for the points after their late sub Paul Lewis was sent off for a reckless challenge on Dagnall.
Oliver Turton shook off an ankle injury to retain his place in David Artell’s starting line-up for the visit of Cambridge United. The Crewe right-back was on the receiving end of a hefty tackle from our former player Shaun Miller at Carlisle United last weekend, but the bruising subsided enough for him to play. Turton had been touch and go all week but declared himself fit enough to play. Alex Kiwoyma returned to the squad after missing last weekend’s 2-0 win at Carlisle United due to illness.
Cambridge named the former Crewe players Mark Roberts and Uche Ikpeazu on the substitutes' bench at Gresty Road.
After a relatively positive start to the proceedings, Crewe Alexandra’s best chance of the opening exchanges fell to Chris Dagnall following a deft touch from George Cooper gave him a shooting chance. Dagnall’s shot took a deflection to take it through to Will Norris.
Artell’s Railwaymen continued to press looking to grab the initiative and the key opening goal, but the flow of the game was being interrupted too much by the referee’s whistle. The breakup of the play, frustrated the supporters and certainly affected Crewe’s impetus.
Ray was booked for a ‘foul’ on Barry Corr but on this occasion Luke Berry wasted the free-kick.
Crewe needed to get more from influential players Callum Cooke and George Cooper. Cooper did send the ever-willing Dagnall through but Leon Legge made a fantastic last-ditch tackle to deny him.
The visitors, under Shaun Derry, came more into the game and their best chance of the opening 20 minutes but Conor Newton’s shot was deflected through to the gloves of Garratt. George Maris side-footed an effort wide before a wicked cross from Cooper nearly reached Bowery.
Crewe’s best football of the first half, saw Cooper try and create some space for himself on the edge of the Cambridge penalty area before some neat one-touch passing involving Dagnall and Jones saw Bowery released on goal. He had to fire across the goal and aim for the space beyond Norris but the Cambridge goalkeeper narrowed his angle to save his effort with his legs.
Moments later, Bowery’s header into the path of Cooper, saw him lift his volley over the bar.
Cambridge, who enjoyed good spells of passing possession broke the deadlock on 37 minutes. After keeping the ball alive down the Crewe left hand side, Brad Halliday swept in a cross to the far post and Harrison Dunk climbed above Turton to force a save from Garratt. He couldn’t hold it and in the second phase of play, the skilful Berry picked up the loose ball and he raced into the box before dispatching a low shot past the Crewe goalkeeper via the far post. It was an excellent finish from Cambridge’s top scorer, who took his tally to 19 goals with his two goals this afternoon.
Crewe had a loud shout for a penalty when Legge seemed to catch Dagnall as he turned back on to a long pass from Turton. The referee waved away the appeals.
In truth, Cambridge could and should have been further ahead before the interval. Liam O’Neill drilled a low shot into Garratt before Dunk was denied a great chance with the last touch of the half. The winger was somehow denied by Garratt when he should have made it 2-0 after a low cross had evaded two Crewe players to drop to him at the far post.
Crewe tried to get on the front foot in the second period and it was left back Zoumana Bakayogo making inroads in to the Cambridge half of the pitch. He had a dangerous cross halted by Newton.
The equalising goal came on 58 minutes and the visitors were unhappy that they were not awarded a foul as Dagnall and Halliday fought for possession in the initial build up. Dagnall reached the ball first and took it into the opposing box, and his low shot passed Bowery before deceiving Norris for his 13th goal of the season. Perhaps the Cambridge goalkeeper thought that Bowery was going to apply a touch.
The goal certainly gave Crewe a lift and Derry quickly made a double change with Ikpeazu and Elito coming on. Uche’s first contribution nearly take advantage of a bit of a scramble inside the box, but Ray cleared the danger.
Crewe were conceding sloppy free-kicks and after Maris had fired a shot at Garratt, Berry made us pay on 72 minutes. Nugent was penalised when conceding it and Berry’s perfectly placed free-kick defeated Garratt.
Ng replaced the tiring Bakayogo and Kiwomya for Cooke. Ng had an early bang on his head but was able to continue.
As Crewe pressed trying to find an equaliser, Dagnall robbed possession close to the half way line, but Bowery’s shot was blocked.
A late run from Dunk saw him break through but he didn’t have the legs to finish the job and headed instead to the corner flag.
Crewe didn’t create too many genuine chances to snatch a point even when substitute Lewis was red carded for lunging into a tackle on Dagnall.
Crewe huffed and puffed but we were disappointing in the final third. The only half chance fell late on to Bowery after the advanced Ray had won another header, but the Alex striker couldn’t keep his shot down.
View over 10 mins of extended highlights from the game exclusively on Crewe Alex Player HD below