Crewe: Garratt, Ng, Raynes, Nolan, Hunt, Green (Jones, 59), Wintle, Ainley, Kirk (Nicholls, 80), Bowery (Porter, 84), Miller
Unused Subs: Richards, Walker, Lowery, Reilly
Attendance: 4,238 (251 Crewe)
A spirited & industrious Crewe performance failed to produce a result at Carlisle United, with the Alex falling to a 1-0 defeat to the Cumbrians.
The Railwaymen had the better of it for large parts, but that killer instinct in front of goal was once again lacking & Cumbrians front-man Ashley Nadeson stole in to net a 69th minute winner for the hosts.
Boss Dave Artell opted for a radical change of approach after the heavy midweek defeat at Colchester, making no fewer than SIX changes to the starting XI.
Ben Garratt, Michael Raynes, Charlie Kirk, Callum Ainley, Jordan Bowery & Shaun Miller all came into the side - Garratt, Raynes & Miller for their first starts of the season – in place of Dave Richards, James Jones, Chris Porter, Alex Nicholls & the injured duo of George Ray & Harry Pickering.
The Alex could’ve been forgivinen for starting the game nervously, such was the manner of the defeat in Essex on Tuesday night, but it proved not to be the case.
The Railwaymen gave as good as they got in the first 45 at Brunton Park, stroking the ball around with confidence, the best chances falling the way of the visitors too.
On six minutes, the first opening arrived. Kirk passing inside for Paul Green to run on to & shoot from 20-yards, but on the stretch he couldn’t keep the effort on target.
In a flowing first period from end-to-end, Crewe fashioned the second clear-cut opportunity from a left-hand corner kick in the 23rd minute. Ainley delivered the set piece for an unmarked Perry Ng to head, but he couldn’t get enough on his ten-yard effort & watch agonisingly as the ball skimmed wide.
Carlisle had a couple of pot-shots from outside the box through Jamie Devitt & Hallam Hope, but both were straight down the throat of, & held by Garratt.
Crewe too had the third & final big chance of the half, Bowery seeing his near post shot saved by the legs of goalkeeper Joe Fryer from a tight angle after Kirk had played him in down the left.
A wonderful chance dropped for Crewe six minutes into second half, but the missed chance had big ramifications for both sides. Good work by Kirk & Miller created space for Bowery, he couldn’t connect which left Green & GK Fryer in a 50/50 at the back post. The two players slid in & unfortunately both picked up game ending injuries – both leaving the field on a stretcher.
That almost ten minute stoppage seemed to open the game up somewhat. Almost immediately after the restart, Eddie Nolan was on hand to provide a goal-saving last ditch sliding challenge after it looked as though Ashley Nadesan had got in one-on-one for the hosts.
On 65 minutes, Ryan Wintle forced sub goalkeeper Adam Collin into double save, first parrying his thumping 20-yard drive, before getting up to stop Ainley’s header from the rebound.
Just as it looked as though Crewe were building ahead of steam, they were hit with the suckerpunch on the 69 minute mark. A low through-ball made it through the rearguard to Nadeson running on into the box & he held off his man before firing low through the legs of Ben Garratt to put the Cumbrians in front.
Crewe continued to push forward in search of an equaliser & had a chance with just five minutes remaining, sub Chris Porter heading narrowly over from a corner within five seconds of emerging from the bench.
There were eight minutes of stoppage time added on after the double injury as the Alex continued to press, & when Carlisle hacked clear a goal-mouth scramble from inside their own six-yard box you just knew it wasn’t going to the Alex’s day.