Crewe: Garratt, Ng (c), Hunt, Nolan, Taylor-Sinclair (Jones, 81), Green, Wintle, Lowery, Kirk, Ainley (Dale, 75), Porter (Reilly, 81)
Unused Subs: Jaaskelainen, Sass Davies, Miller, Finney
Goals: Taylor-Sinclair (32), Wintle (78), Jones (83)
Attendance: 4,316 (1,183 Notts Co)
Crewe Alexandra enjoyed one of their most comfortable afternoons of the season as they conjured up a 3-0 win over bottom club Notts County this afternoon. Crewe had ample opportunities to add to the tally given to us by full-back Aaron Taylor-Sinclair in the first half and midfielders Ryan Wintle and substitute James Jones in the second period.
Chris Porter also had a goal chalked off for offside after man-of-the-match Tom Lowery had pulled one back for him and the likes of Wintle, Paul Green and captain Perry Ng all had chances. Charlie Kirk also had a late chance to make it four after he raced clear only to be denied by Alex Palmer.
Notts County’s best chances of the afternoon saw Ben Garratt push an effort away from Matt Tootle and Kane Hemmings missed an unbelievable chance at 1-0 down after Jon Stead had robbed possession close to the by-line and pulled the ball back for the normally clinical marksman.
In the wake of last weekend’s disappointing defeat at Vale Park, David Artell made three changes to the side that lost to that Tom Pope goal. Callum Ainley, Charlie Kirk and Tom Lowery were all recalled to the starting line-up with James Jones, Ollie Finney and Jordan Bowery left out.
The former Crewe players, Matt Tootle and Sam Stubbs started for the visitors and David Vaughan on the bench.
Crewe Alexandra made a really bright start to the game and were soon in control of the possession but Jon Stead whistled an early cross right across the penalty area.
Crewe were soon presented with a flurry of free-kicks and Paul Green headed downwards and into the grasp of the Notts County goalkeeper Alex Palmer. It was a good chance for the Alex midfielder and moments later another free-kick delivery from Tom Lowery was just too high for Chris Porter.
A third free-kick for Crewe after Perry Ng was tripped some 20 yards from goal saw the right-back take it himself, forcing Palmer to save one-handed and Kirk couldn’t keep his follow-up volley down enough.
Crewe were keeping the ball really well and playing nice, fluent football. Notts County were settling into shape and allowing Crewe to dominate the ball.
Stubbs did well to intercept a cushioned pass from Kirk from reaching Porter before Nicky Hunt did well against his former club to deny Kane Hemmings a run at the Crewe goal. Hunt was assured with his sliding tackle but had to concede a corner in the process.
The deadlock was finally broken on 32 minutes and it was no surprise that it came via a fre-kick. Jim O’Brien conceded it yet again and in the first phase, Richard Duffy flicked Ng’s cross wide for a corner ahead of Porter. Crewe reacted quickly to take a short one and after Ainley had found Kirk, his really tempting cross was headed home by Aaron Taylor-Sinclair. It was the full-back’s second goal in three games following his first against Cheltenham Town. It was no more than Crewe deserved.
To their credit, Notts County almost hit back when Tootle caught a volley perfectly and Ben Garratt had to push his tremendous effort away.
Crewe continued to press looking for a second goal and Wintle had two efforts from distance and so did Ng that was bravely blocked by Stubbs. Notts County were allowing Crewe to come onto them and a cushioned header from Green was just too ahead of Nolan.
The first half ended with a frustrated Hemmings being the first player to be booked for a foul on Ng.
Notts County made a change at the interval with Craig Mackail-Smith replacing Enzio Boldewijn and the visitors made a better fist of it in the early exchanges. Ben Garratt, under pressure had to push a dipping corner behind before Hemmings had a great chance to equalise after Stead had robbed Nolan. Stead pulled the ball back from the by-line but Hemmings somehow side footed wastefully wide. It was a golden chance missed.
Crewe soon got back into the rhythm and the excellent Lowery lifted a shot into Palmer’s grip before having another side footed effort blocked. Lowery also tricked his way past Duffy and laid one on a plate for Porter, but strangely the assistant flagged for offside. Surely it was played behind Porter’s run?
Stead made way for Lewis Alessandra as Notts County tried to get themselves back in the contest but after Hemmings had stole in behind, Hunt did well to narrow his angle and Garratt could push his fierce shot into the side netting. Kirk also did well to track Tootle and deny him a clear touch at the far post. Crewe deserved the clean-sheet.
Crewe were just lacking that final killer ball to find that second goal and we were getting in behind them fairly easily.
Artell made a double change with Dale and Reilly given minutes on the pitch. Dale instantly made an impression with a timely pass into the overlapping Ng and his pull back was tucked home by Ryan Wintle for his second goal of the season. It was a superbly worked goal.
Crewe had doubled their advantage and were comfortable in the closing stages. Taylor-Sinclair had a knock and wasn’t risked and his replacement James Jones rounded off a perfect afternoon for the Railwaymen. Kirk kept the second phase of play alive and he found the supportive Jones and his low drive was deflected and looped into the net for 3-0. It was Jonah's 6th goal of the campaign.
Charlie Kirk had a chance to add a fourth when he raced clean through on a counter-attack but he shot too close at Palmer.