Plymouth 2-1 Crewe
Crewe: Garratt, Turton, Ng, Bingham, Bakayogo, Jones, Wintle, Cooke, Ainley (Bowery, 67), Cooper (Lowery, 78), Dagnall
Unused Subs: Dawber, Udoh, Kirk, Pickering, Finney
Goals: Jones (6)
Attendance: 13,313 (245 Crewe)
In the build-up to the trip to Plymouth Argyle, David Artell said that his players would come and produce a professional performance.
With the League Two title still up for grabs going into the final weekend and Artell wanting the three points to make sure we finish as high as we can, there was an edge to the game from the off.
Artell wanted his Crewe side to spoil Plymouth’s hopes of winning the League Two Championship and in truth we possibly should have made it really difficult for them after dominating large parts of the game. James Jones had fired us into an early lead with a fantastic volley via a corner and we bossed much of the play until the Pilgrims hit back late on.
Ryan Taylor volleyed them level on 74 minutes after a spinning ball from Gary Sawyer had invitingly given him the opportunity to shoot. Five minutes later, substitute Nathan Blissett headed a home a perfect cross from Graham Carey to put them in the driving seat to possibly win the title next weekend.
Although Crewe pressed late on hoping to find that equaliser, a late half volley from substitute Tom Lowery bounced wide of the target.
David Artell named an unchanged Crewe Alexandra side for our final away game of the season. Jordan Bowery, who was not permitted to face his parent club, Leyton Orient last weekend, had to settle for a place on the substitutes bench following our 3-0 win over the O’s. The three goalscorers, Callum Ainley, Ryan Wintle and George Cooper all started again at Home Park.
A fit again Tom Lowery returned to the squad and was in reserve alongside fellow youngsters Charlie Kirk and Harry Pickering.
The former Crewe Alexandra captain David Fox was named in the Plymouth Argyle starting line-up after moving to the Pilgrims last summer. Derek Adams’ side also contained our former midfielder Antoni Sarcevic in their starting XI.
The match kicked off in bright sunshine at Home Park and Crewe were quick to try and get on the front foot.
Having secured our League Two status by surpassing the 50-point barrier, Artell’s Crewe side tried to play really confidently right from the whistle. Crewe started brightly and real purpose, winning two early corners and seeing a free-kick from George Cooper taking an early knick off Gary Sawyer.
Crewe were certainly spending more time in the Plymouth half of the pitch than them in ours and that early pressure paid off in the 6th minute. After winning a third corner on the left hand side, Cooper’s delivery was initially cleared to the edge of the Plymouth box, but James Jones showed great technique to control his volley and beat Luke McCormick. It was a splendid finish from the Crewe midfielder that stunned a packed stadium. Jones, with his 11th goal of a fine season had deservedly put the Railwaymen in front.
Minutes later a dangerous low cross from Cooper only needed to fall at the feet of a Crewe player and it could have been 2-0 inside the opening ten minutes.
Plymouth had a penalty shout waved away after their danger man Graham Carey went down just inside the Crewe penalty area after being placed under pressure from Ainley. Referee Trevor Kettle was well placed to wave away any appeal. It would have been extremely harsh and the Crewe players were not happy with the way the Plymouth number 10 had gone to ground.
Not long after, Carey also seemed to escape an off the ball incident after being spoken to at length by the official. David Fox lifted one over the crossbar from the edge of the box, as the home side tried to draw level.
Crewe continued to be the more likely side to score again. Cooper had a cross-come-shot palmed away by McCormick after it nearly wrong footed him and Cooke drilled a low shot against Yann Songo’o after good work from Dagnall. Moments later, Dagnall just couldn’t get a shot off at the far post after a teasing low cross from Cooper had bamboozled Gary Sawyer on the right hand side of the box.
Plymouth tried to go more direct up to the physical Ryan Taylor and Jake Jervis but Ng and Bingham continue to deal splendidly with the aerial threat. Crewe were looking comfortable against one of the three promoted sides in League Two.
A low cross from Dagnall only needed a touch in front of McCormick but amazingly, it missed everyone rushing towards the six-yard box including three Crewe players. Likewise Carey failed to control a through pass after he had run into a good position behind Turton.
Plymouth were finding it difficult to break down a stubborn Crewe rearguard and frustration got the better of Sarcevic, who was booked for dissent in the final minute of the first half.
The home side made a change at the break with powerful striker Nathan Blissett replacing Jervis. Boosted by a bumper crowd, Plymouth tried to raise their performance level but an early break from Dagnall saw him latch on to through ball from Bingham and after showing good strength up against Songo’o, his pull back had to be cut out by the covering Jakub Sokolik before it reached Cooper in a really promising position.
At the other end, Carey danced past Bakayogo with a piece of fine skill but his firm shot was blocked and diverted away for a corner.
Plymouth were forced into a second change with their player-of-the-season Sonny Bradley replacing the injured Songo’o. He was lucky to escape an early yellow card after catching Cooper into next week with an awful challenge in the centre of the pitch!
Plymouth began to have more possession but there were not carving out genuine chances to test Garratt. The Crewe goalkeeper had to rush out to smother a through ball as Taylor tried to take advantage before Cooper lifted a shot over the crossbar after some neat approach play from the Railwaymen.
On 67 minutes, Crewe made their first change of the afternoon with Bowery replacing the hard working Ainley.
The home side were trying to get joy from the direct route but the Crewe back line were standing firm and when we regained possession, we played some neat football. Sometimes our play was a little hurried as we looked for the out ball to Bowery or the willing runner Dagnall.
Ng was booked for grabbing Kennedy after he had got in a tussle with the Plymouth player but this was certainly no end of the season dead rubber.
On 74 minutes, Garratt was called into action for the first time to deny Blissett, who got a firm connection with his head. From the resultant corner, Plymouth drew level. The initial corner was cleared to the edge of the box and in truth Gary Sawyer’s spinning return rather fortunately found its way through to Ryan Taylor and he adjusted his feet to volley superbly past Garratt. It was another fine finish and now Plymouth now sensed a possible title victory next weekend with Doncaster losing at home to Exeter.
Crewe boss David Artell made another change with the impressive Cooper making way for Tom Lowery.
Five minutes after drawing level, Plymouth went ahead through their towering sub Blissett. Carey whipped over a wonderful cross from the Crewe right and Blissett had got himself in front of Bingham and Ng to head powerfully past a helpless Garratt. Somehow Plymouth were now top of the division after being outplayed for large parts of the contest.
Full of confidence again, Fox whistled one just wide of the post before Crewe had a real go to try and find an equaliser. We forced a succession of corners but the one half chance fell to Lowery, but his half volley from the edge of the box bounced wide. A late header from Bakayogo was too close to McCormick and Plymouth held on for the three points.
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