Crewe's poor away form continues with heavy defeat at Victoria Park.
Crewe Alexandra’s inability to win away has now stretched to 10 matches after fellow strugglers Hartlepool inflicted a 4-0 defeat on the Railwaymen.
Poor mistakes at the back were our undoing again with Ben Nugent allowing a ball to slip under his foot for Lewis Alessandra to open the scoring on the brink of half-time and then Ben Garratt failed to grasp a ball that he looked favourite to get to, thus allowing substitute Padraig Amond to gleefully tap into an empty net.
Although Jordan Bowery struck a post in a first half that Crewe dominated for large periods and the striker also forced Joe Fryer into an excellent save in the second, Crewe collapsed in the second half to allow Alessandra to score again to seal the points before Nathan Jones completed the scoring in injury time.
David Artell made three changes to the Crewe Alexandra side that narrowly lost 2-1 to Stevenage on Saturday. Two were enforced with defender Jon Guthrie ruled out through injury and Chris Dagnall serving the first of his three match suspension following his dismissal for violent conduct on Saturday. Alex Kiwomya came in for Dagnall and there was a recall for Zoumana Bakayogo at left-back.
The fit again midfielder Billy Bingham also came into the starting line-up for youngster Ryan Wintle.
Hartlepool’s Nathan Thomas had the first sight of the Crewe goal in the opening five minutes but he couldn’t keep his shot down enough to trouble Ben Garratt for the first time on the night.
The home side had more of the possession in the early passages of play but after a typical frenetic start, Crewe slowly but surely began to get on the ball through midfielders Jones and Bingham. A searching cross from Jones was headed wide of the target by Cooper, who had ghosted into a promising position. It was just a bit awkward for him to lift his header over the advanced goalkeeper Joe Fryer from just inside the Hartlepool box.
At the other hand, a deflected effort from Michael Woods from the edge of the Crewe penalty area was easy collected by Garratt.
A fantastic burst from Kiwomya on 22 minutes saw him evade three challenges before reaching the edge of the Hartlepool penalty area and his pass into Cooper was a good one but the youngster couldn’t guide his finish past Fryer. Moments later, another great pass into the box from Kiwomya was miss-controlled by Jones. If he had been able to have got it under his control, the in-form midfielder was in on goal because although the Hartlepool defenders appealed for offside, a flag was not forthcoming.
In reply, Brad Walker unleashed a powerful drive that whistled wide of Garratt’s right hand post. Thomas also lifted one well over the bar after cutting in from the Crewe right.
On the half an hour mark, Cooper and Turton combined to release the ever willing Bowery and after eyeing inches of space his low shot took a nick off a defender before skidding along the floor and striking the outside of the post. It was a decent effort from the on-loan striker as he went in search of his first goal for the club.
Crewe began to boss the possession stakes and appeared the more likely side to grab that all important first goal but it was the home who went in at the break 1-0 ahead after a poor defensive lapse.
It did come against the run of play after Cooper was pinched off possession. On the break, Rhys Oates was able to run in behind Turton and place over a cross from the left and Nugent seemed to lose his footing as the ball travelled across the box. It allowed the ball to reach Lewis Alessandra, who after holding off the intentions of Bakayogo saw his deflected effort beat Garratt.
In the opening minute of the second half, Thomas did superbly well to trick his way into a shooting position but his powerful shot across goal just cleared Garratt’s far post.
Jones had an early volley too but it lacked the direction to cause Fryer any sort of problem. After the advanced Bakayogo was caught by Kenton Richardson, a dangerous delivery from Cooper was headed just wide by Captain Ray.
More good pressure from Crewe saw Cooper skip away down the Crewe right hand side and his pass inside to Bowery saw him draw a good save from Fryer.
The first change on the night saw Lewis Rooney replaced by Padraig Amond for the Pools.
Bakayogo was a little unfortunate to be the first player booked for a ‘foul’ on Thomas. It actually looked the other way round and probably didn’t warrant a yellow card in the first place.
The next goal was always going to critical and another mistake, this time from goalkeeper Ben Garratt allowed substitute Amond to race in behind and tuck a shot into an empty net. When the initial ball was played, Garratt had looked the clear favourite to get to the ball first but he didn’t grasp it and Amond kept going to take full advantage.
That prompted a triple substitution from Dave Artell. Kiwomya, Cooper and Bakayogo made way for NG, Ainley and Kirk.
The change added some zest and Bowery went close again with a low shot that was well saved by Fryer. The Hartlepool stopper denied Crewe a passage back into the game with a fantastic tip around the far post.
Thomas was booked for a trip on Bingham and from the resultant free-kick, Hartlepool defended their six yard box effectively to clear and on the counter attack, Thomas shot straight at the Alex goalkeeper.
With six minutes remaining, the home side secured the three points after a scramble inside the Crewe box. The move stemmed from Richardson, who skipped past NG and his deep cross caused enough mayhem for Garratt to have to deny Thomas before Alessandra guided the rebound into the empty net.
The fourth goal rubbed salt into Crewe’s wounds as the lively Thomas was allowed to escape underneath Nugent close to the by-line and fire low past Garratt to complete the scoring.