Great comeback from the Alex to collect deserved point
Crewe Alexandra staged a fantastic second half comeback to pick up a deserved away point at Blackpool. Second half goals from Chris Dagnall and Ollie Turton salvaged a point after we conceded two sloppy first half goals to Nathan Delfouneso and Tom Aldred.
Right-back Turton popped up with a late equaliser to erupt a noisy away end and send Crewe home a lot happier as we extend our unbeaten run to three games.
Dagnall had got us back into it, when he was the right place to bundle home a Cooper shot that had been saved by Sasm Slocombe. It was a terrific comeback and a spirited Crewe deserve all the plaudits for the work rate and desire to get back into the game.We could have won it in stoppage time too with Slocombe denying Alex sub Alex Kiwomya.
With Danny Hollands ruled out for a number of weeks with a hamstring injury, his replacement on Tuesday evening, Ryan Wintle came into the starting line-up for his first league start for the club.
The former Alsager Town youngster had replaced the club captain in the 2-1 win over Wycombe Wanderers after just 20 minutes and had performed admirably at Gresty Road. Academy youngster Ollie Finney was called up to the substitute’s bench as midfield cover.
With Hollands missing, the captain’s armband was passed on to defender George Ray.
The Blackpool starting XI contained the former Crewe players Kelvin Mellor and Colin Daniel and our former loanee full-back, Andy Taylor, who captained the Seasiders.
Crewe Alexandra arrived at Bloomfield Road with renewed optimism and an injection of confidence following back-to-back home wins over Grimsby Town and Wycombe. After forcing the Blackpool goalkeeper Sam Slocombe into making an early clearance into touch, a cross arriving from George Cooper was flicked behind by Chris Dagnall. The two players combined again and this time on the deck, Dagnall flicked the half chance a couple of yards wide.
Crewe’s vibrant start then saw right back Ollie Turton burst into the Blackpool box and after appearing to be clipped, he managed to keep his feet and provide a low cross that just didn’t fall into the path of Dagnall.
Against the run of play, Blackpool took the lead on eight minutes and from a Crewe perspective it was far too easy. Brad Potts broke down the Crewe right into yards of space and he clipped a perfect cross to the far post to where Nathan Delfouneso was granted far too much room to head past a helpless Garratt.
Rather alarmingly, the Seasiders got in down the right again moments later, with a persistent Colin Daniel reaching the by-line and providing a tempting cross for Kyle Vassell, who got his shot on target but thankfully Garratt was equal to it to make a fine save. After a such a bright start going forward, Crewe could have been 2-0 down after ten minutes but for Garratt’s save.
Crewe continued to press forward and look impressive in the Blackpool half of the pitch but Blackpool were also a threat on the counter attack and Potts presented an opening for Colin Daniel but he drilled his shot wide.
The Blackpool defender Tom Alfred was booked for coming through the back of Cooper close to the centre circle. A promising break from Cooper in the centre of the pitch allowed him to find Dagnall inside the box but the ball was just taken from his toes as he prepared to get a shot off. Crewe couldn’t make anything of the corner as Ray flew in at the near post.
Blackpool extended their advantage on 26 minutes after Crewe failed to clear the danger after a Jordan Flores delivered a cross from the Alex left. The ball dropped into a crowded penalty area and Crewe were not decisive enough in grabbing the initiative as Mellor tried to get the ball from under his feet. Our former promotion winner eventually poked the ball to Alfred and he adjusted his body accordingly to guide it beyond Garratt and into the far corner.
Crewe tried to respond with a forceful run from Cooke and after he found Bowery wide on the right, his lay off was sliced wide of the target by the onrushing Jones.
Blackpool were a threat going forward and Wintle had to stand strong to deflect an effort from Will Aimson to prevent him getting another half volley on target.
The next goal was vital and following a Jones free-kick into the box, Jon Guthrie may perhaps should have done better with a free header, but he couldn’t get over it enough to guide it on target.
Ray had to be alert to clear a low cross from Delfouneso before Crewe conjured up their best chance of the first half. Turton did superbly well to carry the ball forward from his right back position and he had the awareness to slip in Cooke. The on-loan Middlesbrough youngster did everything right with his low shot just inches wide of the far post. On the stretch, Chris Dagnall just couldn’t apply a decisive touch either to give Crewe that goal before the break.
Crewe tried to get on the front foot with Wintle, Jones and Cooke eager to get on the ball more but in the early exchanges, our quality in the final third had to be more consistent. There was an early change from the home side with Alfred forced off with an injury and he was replaced by Eddie Nolan.
Bowery did well to win a header from a deep cross from Guthrie but no-one in a Crewe shirt responded to the knock-down and any chance was lost. Moments later, Bowery had a shot blocked by sub Nolan.
The Seasiders continued to break with purpose though and after Vassell had dragged one wide, Delfouneso shot straight into the gloves of Garratt.
A bouncing ball just wouldn’t come down for Dagnall as he tried to latch onto a flick on from Cooper but the experienced Taylor did well to use his body and protect the ball back to his goalkeeper.
Dagnall did get us back into the contest on the hour mark with his fourth goal in the last three games. The busy striker bundled it over the line from close range after Sam Slocombe had saved from Cooper. The build up to the goal was fantastic with Cooper and Cooke bursting with real pace and purpose down the left hand side. They played an interchange of passes to eventually allow Cooper to get his shot off. Slocombe couldn’t hold it and Dagnall showed that poachers instinct to poke home.
Blackpool lost Vassell through injury and he had to be replaced by Jamille Matt.
Crewe had to stand firm, especially against the physicality of sub Matt and Crewe had to survive a loud shout from the home support after an apparent handball inside the box. Referee Ben Toner waved away the appeals from the few Blackpool players that asked the questions.
The game continued to be end-to-end stuff and it was perfectly placed for a grandstand finish. David Artell made a double change with 15 minutes remaining, with Zoumana Bakayogo and Callum Ainley coming on for Guthrie and Wintle.
Another promising move from the Alex then saw Bowery chest a Turton cross into the path of Dagnall but he screwed his shot a yard wide from a tight angle. It was still a very open game, with Crewe getting joy in the final third.
With the minutes ticking away, Daniel made way for Bright Osayi-Samuel for the Seasiders.
The physical Matt was denied superbly by Bakayogo was he threatened to go clear. The Alex sub stuck to the task to get enough on it and that allowed Garratt to rush out and smother any chance. It kept Crewe in the contest as the game entered the last few minutes.
With Blackpool retreating into their own half, Nugent was encouraged to bring the ball forward and the centre-half clipped a perfect long ball onto the head of Bowery and his leap and header was so tempting for the advanced Turton to fire home with two minutes left.
In search of a late winner, Ainley did superbly well to feed the introduced Kiwoyma and the flying forward forced a good save from Slocombe. From the resulting corner, the Blackpool keeper had to push it over his bar when under pressure from Bowery.
James Jones thumped a powerful shot that was goalbound against a Blackpool defender and Cooke saw a late chance hit him and go behind the Blackpool goal.