Crewe 2-2 Notts County
Crewe: Garratt, Turton, Ray, Nugent (Ng, 69), Bakayogo, Jones, Bingham, Cooke, Cooper (Wintle, 69), Dagnall, Bowery
Unused Subs: Dawber, Saunders, Kirk, Kiwomya, Ainley
Goals: Dagnall (39), Jones (66)
Attendance: 5,016 (1,069)
Crewe Alexandra edged a bit closer to the 50 point mark with a hard fought point against Notts County. The spirited Railwaymen had to come from behind twice to make sure they got a share of the spoils, but the visitors felt aggrieved they were not awarded a late penalty when Shola Ameobi clashed with Ben Garratt but referee Gavin Ward booked the striker for a dive.
In a game that was riddled with mistakes that resulted in three of the goals, a 2-2 draw was a fair reflection of the how open the game was. A sloppy pass from James Jones gifted the opening goal to the visitors after only nine minutes with Adam Campbell firing low past Garratt.
Crewe hit back before the interval though when Notts County centre-half Hayden Hollis got himself in a muddle on the half way line and Callum Cooke’s quick through ball released Chris Dagnall through on goal and he kept his cool to score his 14th goal of the season.
Another mistake, this time from Cooke resulted in our former midfielder Michael O’Connor firing the Magpies back in front on 52 minutes but again Crewe fought back to force home an equaliser with Jones making amends for his error when he followed up a blocked shot from Dagnall to net his 10th goal of the season.
David Artell chose not to alter his starting XI for the visit of Kevin Nolan’s in-form side this afternoon.
The Crewe boss kept faith with the same squad that regretfully let a two goal advantage slip at Accrington Stanley last weekend.
Notts County included the former Crewe Alexandra players Matt Tootle and Michael O’Connor in their starting line-up. Irishman O’Connor captained the Magpies, who also had Jon Stead and Shola Ameobi in their starting XI.
Crewe Alexandra tried to get the Notts County back four turning as quickly as possible and an early burst from Jordan Bowery saw him tee up Billy Bingham but his shot was deflected over for an early corner. Moments later, a clever flick from Bowery nearly landed into the path of Cooper but it just ran through to Adam Collin.
There wasn’t a lot between the two sides in the opening 10 minutes but James Jones’ mistake presented Adam Campbell with the opening goal. Firstly, Ben Nugent’s initial clearance only made it just out of the Crewe penalty area and Jones’ mistake gave Campbell the time and space to drive a low shot past Ben Garratt.
Crewe tried to hit back instantly and some flowing football got Turton up the field but his crosses were just too much for Bowery and Cooper to reach. Moments later Hollis made a block to deny Dagnall inside the six-yard box.
At the other end, Garratt had to stay alert to dive on a dangerous cross from Carl Dickinson before Dagnall placed him head onto a well struck free-kick from O’Connor.
On the half an hour mark, Bingham found Dagnall but the Alex striker could only drag his shot wide of the far post.
Five minutes later, Garratt kept the score line at 1-0 by denying Ameobi with a fantastic save. Zoumana Bakayogo was caught out by the touchline by Jorge Grant and he cleverly pulled the ball back towards the former Newcastle United striker but Garratt got enough on his shot to divert it inches wide.
The save came at a crucial time because Crewe drew level on 38 minutes. Hollis got himself in a real mess and he surrendered possession back to Cooke and his instant pass released Dagnall. The experienced striker left Duffy in his wake before calmly slotting home the equaliser past Collin.
Crewe ended a thrilling first half on the front foot with Dagnall nearly sneaking a pass into Jones at the near post but at the other end, we had to rely on Nugent making a fantastic block on a late effort from Elliott Hewitt.
Notts County started the second half with intensity and after Nugent had conceded an early free-kick, Dickenson forced a smart save from Garratt.
With Crewe struggling to get hold of possession, it was the visitors going back ahead on 52 minutes, but it was another mistake from us that was punished. Garratt didn’t get enough on his clearance and a heavy touch from Cooke, saw Stead collect the loose ball and feed O’Connor through on goal. The Irishman gratefully accepted and slid the visitors back ahead.
Notts County boosted by taking the lead for a second time tried to extend their lead with Dickinson flashing one wide and Stead having a snap shot straight at the Crewe stopper.
At the other end, the hard working Dagnall broke away but his pull back had Cooke stretching for it. Duffy also made a great challenge to deny the Crewe striker.
Crewe’s effort paid off in the 66th minute. Nugent won his header against Ameobi to set Dagnall on his way into the County half and his shot was deflected into the air and Jones did superbly well to follow it up and control his half volley past a helpless Collin.
Nugent had suffered a knee injury in the build-up to the goal and had to be replaced for young Perry Ng. Cooper was also replaced by Wintle.
Mark Yeates also came on for Campbell as Notts County looked for the winner as well. It became a really open game and it could have swung either way. O’Connor fired a fantastic volley straight at Garratt after a long throw-in had dropped invitingly to him. Man of the Match George Ray also made a splendid block to deny Tootle late on.
In the final minute, Notts County were denied what looked to be a penalty when O’Connor slipped Ameobi through on goal. The big striker got a touch on the ball to take it past the Crewe goalkeeper and his momentum took him through and into the striker. The referee blew the whistle, but surprisingly he booked Ameobi for diving and awarded Crewe a free-kick. The Notts County bench exploded with rage at the decision. In true it looked a penalty.
We so nearly rubbed salt into their wounds but Hollis made a fantastic block to deny Bowery an injury time winner.
Watch over 10 mins of HD action from the game below exclusively on Crewe Alex Player HD