Crewe: Garratt, Ng, Nolan, Raynes, Bakayogo, Lowery, Pickering, Cooper (Kirk, 55), Ainley (Grant, 59), Bowery (Porter, 59), Dagnall
Unused Subs: Richards, Walker, Stubbs, Reilly
Attendance: 3,736 (315)
Crewe Alexandra started their hectic Christmas period with a hugely disappointing defeat to Swindon Town. There wasn’t much Christmas cheer around the Alexandra Stadium, as Swindon Town won their eighth away game of the season, cruising to a 3-0 win.
The Railwaymen were blitzed in the opening 20 minutes to find ourselves three goals down and scratching our heads to what had gone wrong. Crewe yet again couldn’t build on the three points achieved against Crawley last weekend.
Swindon took the lead after 9 minutes when Kaiyne Woorley bundled in the ball at the far post after Keshi Anderson’s shot had hit the post. It was 2-0 just eight minutes later when Ben Garratt came for a free-kick, got nothing on it, and Amine Linganzi headed home ahead of him.
The third came via the penalty spot from the fit-again Luke Norris. He buried his low drive beyond Garratt, although the Crewe goalkeeper had judged the right way.
Following on from last weekend’s comfortable 3-0 win over Crawley Town, it was no major surprise that David Artell named an unchanged side for the visit of Swindon. Chris Dagnall once again captained the side and Artell could call on the same named substitutes from last week.
David Flitcroft has handed a boost before kick-off when his leading scorer, Luke Norris, was declared fit to return to action. Keshi Anderson was also declared fit after only resuming training this week.
Crewe soon settled into their stride and took the game to the opposition in the early exchanges. It was actually a bright start from the home side, with Zoumana Bakayogo shooting wide and Dagnall flicking a George Cooper cross just wide with his head.
Swindon’s first venture into the Crewe half saw Eddie Nolan head over a free-kick as Anderson looked to get in at the far post.
Their second main attack saw the Robins take the lead. In the build-up there looked to be a foul on Callum Ainley but the referee allowed play to continue and Swindon took full advantage. Norris fed Anderson and he shaped to bend his shot around Ng. His accurate effort clipped the far post and Woolery reacted quickest to bundled the ball over the line.
Crewe tried to re-group and hit back instantly. Lowery’s wicked cross was header wide by a diving Dagnall.
Norris had a shot deflected behind for a corner before Garratt did well to deny Woolery again in a one-on-one situation after he had been slipped in by Paul Mullin.
Swindon looked a threat every time they broke forward and the Crewe back-line were finding it difficult to contain them. After Bakayogo conceded a free-kick towards the left by-line and Garratt chose to leave his line to claim the cross but didn’t get there. The powerful Linganzi stole between the two Crewe centre-halves to flick it beyond the onrushing Garratt for 2-0.
Cooper shot just wide as he tried to get Crewe back into it after a shocking start but it would be Swindon extending their lead on the half-an-hour mark. Anderson got the better of Ng and after their legs got tangled, the referee was right to point to the penalty area. Ng didn’t get anything on the ball and had impeded the player as he threatened to get a shot off. Norris stepped up to make it 3-0 and it was going to an almighty struggle for the Railwaymen.
Crewe’s best opportunity of the first half, saw Ng’s deep cross reach Bakayogo on the other side but after racing forward, he couldn’t control his volley to turn it home. In truth it was a difficult chance as it came from deep and over a crowd of players.
Norris shot well over from distance before Mullin fired over from a great position. He should have made it 4-0.
A low cross from Bakayogo nearer reached Dagnall but he was denied by the bravery of Lawrence Vigouroux.
The second half started with Swindon hitting the woodwork again and Norris had a second goal denied by a great saving challenge from Eddie Nolan.
Crewe boss David Artell made a change with Kirk replacing Cooper and after Pickering was booked, he made a double sub with Porter and Grant replacing Bowery and Ainley. Before he left the pitch, Bowery had been picked out superbly by Kirk but couldn’t quite control his volley off his chest.
To their credit, Kirk and Grant injected some purpose to the Crewe attack and Porter's power in the air saw him with a number of headers. But it was Swindon going close again when a fantastic free-kick from Matty Taylor smacked the crossbar. It was a wonderful effort from the veteran.
Crewe huffed and puffed but chances were few and far between. Kirk drew Vigouroux out of his goal but after we kept the ball well, Bakayogo tried to slot the ball past the retreating goalkeeper but he recovered really well to make the save.
The lively Kirk also lifted a cross shot over the bar before Porter fired straight at the Swindon keeper after the ball had dropped invitingly for him from close range. He would have been disappointed not to have really tested the Swindon stopper.
With the clock ticking down, another cross from Kirk saw Taylor head against his own post and rebound to safety. It about summed up our disappointing afternoon, as Swindon cruised to a well deserved win.