Garratt, Turton, Guthrie (Bakayogo, 45), Ray (c), Nugent, Jones, Wintle (Kiwomya, 45), Cooke, Cooper, Dagnall, Bowery
Crewe Alexandra’s mini-run came to an end as in-form Stevenage won on the road yet again with a 2-1 win at Gresty Road.
Both sides were reduced to ten men after Chris Dagnall the Stevenage goalkeeper Jamie Jones clashed in the 24th minute after the Crewe striker had tried to latch onto the long ball. The two players were shown straight red cardsare clashing on the floor.
Darren Sarll’s side scored two first half goals through their leading scorer Matt Godden and defender Fraser Franks.
Crewe hit back with 20 minutes left after George Cooper was bundled in the back and James Jones stepped up to convert his second successive penalty kick. Crewe had a real go to try and find an equaliser but didn’t really test the reserve goalkeeper Chris Day on too many occasions. Our best chance saw a late surge from substitute Alex Kiwomya resulted in him shooting inches wide.
Crewe Alexandra boss David Artell named an unchanged team for the visit of an in-form Stevenage.
Young midfielder Ryan Wintle retained his starting place after making his full league debut at Blackpool last weekend. After serving his three-match suspension for the red card at Exeter City, Charlie Kirk was recalled to the matchday squad ahead of youngster Owen Dale.
Billy Bingham, who marked his return to fitness with a goal in the U-23s 2-1 win over Sheffield Wednesday on Monday, was also named on the Crewe bench ahead of Ollie Finney.
With both sides coming into the game in good form, it was evident that the players were confident enough to get on the ball and probe for openings in the final third. Considering the blustery conditions it remained attractive on the eye as a spectacle as both teams went in search of the opening goal.
Stevenage got the crucial opener on 7 minutes and Crewe will be hugely disappointed that it stemmed from a long throw-in entering our box. The visitors danger man Matt Godden was given far too much room, chested it down and waltzed past a couple of meek challenges before tidily tucking it past Garratt for his 17th goal of a prolific season.
Crewe’s best chance of the opening ten minutes saw Cooper and Bowery combine and the striker was a little unfortunate to see his well-executed volley flash wide.
A promising burst to the by-line from Cooke only needed a touch but Stevenage managed to get it behind for a corner.
From the corner, Ray won the first header to find his defensive partner Nugent but he approached his shot with the wrong foot and he couldn’t adjust to get it on target. It was a good chance but fell to the wrong player in that position.
Cooke also had a shot that was blocked and Guthrie fired wide in the follow-up.
In reply, Stevenage’s Josh McQuoid had shot from the egde of the box that was deflected wide for a corner.
Darren Sarll’s side continued to be a threat in the final third of the pitch and with the likes of the skilful Tonge, Lee and McAnuff, they had good possession in and around the Crewe box, but Ben Nugent and George Ray were fairly resolute in their defending.
The game spun on its head in the 25th minute. Dagnall chased down a long ball and had every right to try and apply a touch as the Stevenage goalkeeper Jamie Jones raced from his line to collect it. Both players went in wholeheartedly but Jones was unhappy with the force of the challenge from the Crewe striker and appeared to throw a punch at Dagnall. Understandably, Dagnall could not contain himself and after both players grappled on the floor, the referee sent both of them off.
With their goalkeeper off, Stevenage sacrificed Tonge for reverse goalkeeper Day. Crewe pushed Cooper further forward to support Bowery to cope with the loss of Dagnall.
Stevenage continued to be excellent in their pressing and they broke quickly on our back four and after being awarded a contested corner on 35 minutes, they doubled their lead via a set-play. It was executed superbly with defenders Luke Wilkinson and Franks combining in the air. Franks nodded past some bodies on the line to put Boro two goals up before the break.
Bowery did have the ball in the net with a tidy finish, but he had unfortunately just strayed offside after Cooper had pinched possession.
Artell made a double change in the half-time interval with Kiwomya and Bakayogo replacing Guthrie and Wintle. Bakayogo, operating at left-back and keen to get forward had an early shot blocked.
Moments later, the lively Godden just couldn’t quite a take a superb long ball in his path and the chance was lost. Crewe began to get a foothold with the possession and Jack King had to defend superbly to get a dangerous looking cross from Bakayogo over the crossbar.
Stevenage were always quick to jump on our mistakes and McAnuff laid a chance off to full-back Connor Ogilvie but he drilled his shot inches wide of Garratt’s far post.
Kiwomya’s clever reverse pass into Cooper saw Crewe’s most likely player to score spin a shot into Day’s gloves.
Just before Crewe got back into the game in the 70th minute Stevenage made a change with the hard working Quoid being replaced by Kennedy. Similarly to Blackpool last weekend, Nugent was allowed to bring the ball out of defence and again he hit an accurate long ball into Bowery and he did enough to knock it down to Cooper. He had a touch to protect the ball before he was bundled in the back and the referee awarded a spot kick. Jones stepped up to smash his spot-kick into the roof of the net.
Boosted by the crowd, Crewe went in search of an equaliser and had a real go. A splendid cross from Kiwomya was flicked on by Cooper and only needed a touch by Bowery at the far post but he couldn’t quite reach it. Turton, who scored his first goal of the season at Blackpool last weekend, also fired a shot from 20 yards into the gloves of Day.
At the other end, Charlie Lee, placed over a dangerous cross that only needed a touch from substitute Ben Kennedy but Bakayogo did enough to make sure he didn’t get a clean connection.
Crewe continued to deliver some dangerous crosses but that real genuine chance never really fell to us. With Nugent pressed forward, Kiwomya had a late burst into the box but his acrobatic effort spun wide of the far post.