Crawley 0-3 Crewe
Crewe: Garratt, Turton, Ray (Ng, 22), Nugent, Bakayogo, Jones, Cooke, Bingham, Cooper (Kiwomya, 83), Dagnall (Ainley, 86), Bowery
Unused Subs: Dawber, Kirk, Wintle, Finney
Goals: Jones (Pen, 37), Bowery (50), Dagnall (52)
Crewe Alexandra recorded back-to-back away wins with a really impressive display at Crawley.
The Railwaymen quickly banished Saturday’s set-back against bottom side Newport County to enjoy a comfortable 3-0 win at the Checkatrade Stadium.
After dominating the majority of the first half, Crewe deservedly took the lead via the penalty spot after Ben Nugent was tripped in the box on 37 minutes. James Jones kept his cool once again to thump his spot kick past Glenn Morris.
Two swift breaks at the beginning of the second half killed Crawley’s resistance with Jordan Bowery calmly slotting home his first goal for the club five minutes into the second period and the returning Chris Dagnall raced clear to make it 3-0 just two minutes later.
David Artell made two changes to the Crewe Alexandra side that surrendered a 1-0 half-time lead to Newport at the weekend. The Alex boss altered his formation back to 4-3-3 with Chris Dagnall and George Cooper recalled for Alex Kiwomya and Ryan Wintle. They flanked target man Jordan Bowery, as Crewe changed to a more attack-minded system.
Crewe started brightly at the Checkatrade Stadium with some nice interchanging of passing. A burst from Callum Cooke was just halted by Mark Connolly as he looked to break onto the home side’s back four. A promising run from full-back Zoumana Bakayogo saw him reach a pass into the box from Cooper but his low cross that was aimed for the supportive James Jones was just about cut out before he could connect properly.
Crewe were presented with a good early chance with Cooper reading a weak back header. It was never going to reach the Crawley goalkeeper Glenn Morris and as he retreated back to his goal line, the alert Crewe winger drilled his shot against the legs of the stopper.
Crawley’s first opportunity arose from a poor clearance from Ben Garratt but James Collins couldn’t quite return his effort with real interest and it went a yard wide.
Cooper again broke the offside trap on 11 minutes to create another wonderful chance for the Alex. Cooper had the intelligence to back heal to Dagnall and the striker had the awareness to pass it on to the unmarked Bowery. He must have thought he was going to score his first goal for the club, but he drilled his powerful shot wide of the target. Crewe had wasted two good early chances.
A vibrant Crewe were given more joy after Dagnall robbed possession down the Crewe right hand side. He found Bingham in the central of the pitch and his instant pass found Cooper in enough space to try his luck from 25 yards out. Morris was perfectly placed to push his effort over the crossbar.
Crewe were dealt a blow on 21 minutes when we lost our skipper George Ray through injury. The centre-half seemed to aggravate a groin muscle and was forced off and was replaced by Perry NG. The armband was passed onto Turton.
Crawley also lost a centre-half of their own with Connelly forced off with injury and he was replaced by Josh Yorweth.
The front three of Crewe continued to interchange well and their movement was fluid. They often switched positions and the busyness of Cooper and Dagnall occupied Crawley’s back line.
A superb run from Bakayogo then saw him drift past three challenges to reach the Crawley box but he couldn’t quite poke his shot past the grounded Morris. It would have been some goal if Bakayogo had produced a quality finish but we seemed to just stretch into the technique to let the home side off the hook.
Whilst on top, Crewe should have taken one of these chances and more great work from Dagnall gave Bowery another opening but on this occasion his low shot took a deflection to take it past the far post.
Jimmy Smith was booked for pulling Turton down but the referee was hasty to pull the play back because Cooper had 25 yards of free space to run into but we were get our reward from the resultant free-kick.
Crewe’s constant pressure in the final third finally told on 37 minutes when Nugent was tripped just inside the Crawley penalty area and to his credit referee Deadman was spot on to award the penalty. Midfielder James Jones struck home with confidence to net his third penalty out of three to take his tally to 9 of an impressive season. It was no more than Crewe Alexandra deserved.
The Alex continued to pass the ball well and deservedly went in at the interval 1-0 ahead. If we are being harsh, it should have perhaps been even more comfortable as was our play in the final third of the pitch.
There was still time for Rhys Murphy to have Crawley’s best chance of the half, but Garratt was equal to it to push it behind but there was not enough time for the corner to be taken.
After the second half restarted, Crewe survived an early free-kick after Bakayogo had man-handled Enzio Boldewijn close to the by-line. Garratt was soon called into action again to save well from Crawley’s dangerman Collins before Crewe doubled their lead on 50 minutes.
After Callum Cooke had regained possession, a swift break from the excellent Cooper saw him rolled the ball across to Bowery and the on-loan striker did superbly well to take a touch and then bury home his first goal for the club. He thoroughly deserved his goal.
It got even better for the Alex again just two minutes later. Another fantastic counter attack from Artell’s men saw Cooke feed Dagnall through the middle and the experienced striker tucked home his 10th goal of the campaign. Crewe had started the second half in clinical fashion and in truth deserved the three goal advantage for the way we had asked questions of the Crawley defence.
The work rate from the Alex was terrific with the front three defending from the front and Crawley were finding it increasingly difficult to penetrate the resolute Crewe back four. Nugent led by the front and NG slipped in for the injured Ray just fine.
Cooper’s runs were a problem all night to the opposition and he nearly reached another through ball after coming off his wing. Jones then found Cooke with a splendid cross field pass but the on-loan Boro youngster had his shot blocked.
Bakayogo was booked for persistent fouls on winger Boldewijn before Bowery slipped in Cooper but he was foiled by Morris, as he looked to round him. At the other end, Murphy couldn’t quite direct his far post header on target after the initial header was won at a corner.
The corners continued to arrive in the Crewe box but Nugent and Bowery continued to get their heads on things. Yorwerth was booked for a bad challenge on Cooper and he was replaced for the pacey Kiwoyma to see out the final stages.
The fresh legs of Ainley were also introduced for the hard working Dagnall, who received warm applause for his work ethic and tidy finish that killed the contest. Crawley's best chance came in stoppage time and Crewe needed the woodwork to protect our clean sheet when Murphy's superb shot clipped Garratt's crossbar. It was the home side's best move of the 90 minutes.
The 110 Crewe fans were superb and after a long trip were rewarded with our most impressive away performance of the season.
View over 10 mins of HD footage from the game below