Crewe run riot with Anene scoring twice. Finney and Powell also on target before own goal completes the scoring.
Crewe Alexandra recorded their sixth away win of the season in League Two to kick off their Christmas campaign in emphatic style. The Railwaymen scored five goals at the Lamex Stadium and it could have been more.
The in-form Chuma Anene helped himself to another brace to take his impressive tally to five in three games. Oli Finney got on the scoresheet again and Daniel Powell got a deserved goal too before Scott Cuthbert scored an unfortunate own goal before Anene could help himself to a hat-trick.
Winger Charlie Kirk was the creator supreme creating first half goals for the in-form Chuma Anene and midfielder Oli Finney. Kirk put the first on a plate for the Norwegian to help himself to his fourth goal in his last three games before Crewe scored a wonderful team goal just two minutes later.
Tom Lowery instigated the move with a clever turn in the centre of the pitch and after he found Kirk in space again out of the left, his accurate cross gave Finney another goal to add to his growing collection this season. It was a fantastic counter-attack, crafted right out of our Academy.
The excellent Kirk also forced Farman into two very good first half saves to restrict Crewe just to the two goals. It wouldn’t last as the goals continued to arrive in spades in the second period too.
The free-flowing football continued from the Alex in a dominant second half as well. Powell raced onto a through ball from skipper Perry Ng to put the game to bed on 56 minutes before Anene converted a Pickering cross for 4-0 and he was then beaten to another by the Stevenage defender Scott Cuthbert who turned a Pickering cross into his own net.
Crewe were ruthless in attack and kept going, looking to add to our impressive goal tally. It was a really clinical, professional display from the Railwaymen, who played some fantastic football.
The only downside was that we couldn’t protect our clean-sheet on the day with Scott Cuthbert heading home a consolation goal on 83 minutes. It was annoying.
David Artell named an unchanged side for the trip to the Lamex Stadium.
Leading scorer with 10 goals this campaign, Chris Porter, was not deemed fit enough to travel to Stevenage, so Chuma Anene once again led the line following his three goals in the past two games. Daniel Powell retained his place ahead of Owen Dale after returning to the starting XI against Mansfield Town last weekend.
The former Crewe Alexandra trialist Paul Taylor started for the home side, as did our former centre-half Ben Nugent.
Crewe Alexandra’s first real move saw Oli Finney, Charlie Kirk and left-back, Harry Pickering combine well and Pickering’s low cross was cut out for an early corner. After Pickering’s second phase was cleared to the edge of the penalty area, Lowery couldn’t quite keep his volley down to test Paul Farman in the Stevenage goal.
Just moments later, Finney collected possession in a good position but his final through ball aimed for Anene was just cut out by Nugent, who had read the danger well.
Taylor tried to inject some life into the Stevenage attack by taking on Pickering but his cross was headed clear by Hunt. Moments later, the lively Elliott List won possession back for the home side close to the corner flag. He raced into the box but shot wide of the far post.
Crewe continued to get joy down the Stevenage right hand side and more good interchanging between Kirk and Pickering saw the full-back’s deep cross reach Powell at the far post. The Alex wide man was unfortunate to see his controlled volley be deflected over for another Alex corner.
Kirk also fired over with a first time effort after another low cross from Powell reached him.
Stevenage played some neat stuff too with Taylor occupying some useful pockets and Ben Kennedy has always been an inventive player for Stevenage – but Crewe were defending their box with great efficiently. On 17 minutes, a through ball from Terence Vancooten evaded Nolan and sent Emmanuel Sonupe racing into the challenge. His cross was headed out and in the follow up Charlie Carter had a shot blocked by Lowery and then Timlin was wasteful with his effort from 25 yards.
Two minutes later, Crewe conjured up the best chance of the early exchanges. It was again Powell crossing to the opposite winger Kirk and after applying a good contact, this time with his side foot, it needed a wonderful save from Farman to keep it out close to his line.
Moments later, a dangerous cross from Kirk only needed a decisive touch from the skidding Anene but he couldn’t quit reach it and the Stevenage goalkeeper was able to push the bouncing ball behind for a corner.
Crewe were getting a lot of joy down both flanks but needed to involve the main striker, Anene more, as he wasn’t getting too many touches. That would change.
As the rain began to descend on an already greasy surface, Taylor wriggled free some 25 yards from goal but again his shot wasn’t on target to force a save from Will Jaaskeklainen.
On 27 minutes, the Stevenage defender Scott Cuthbert was cautioned for a deliberate handball after he used his hand to stop a pass from Pickering from reaching Anene as he tried to race in behind.
Then after Finney had a shot blocked, Crewe’s pressure from the flanks finally paid off. Kirk again provided the perfect assist, with his excellent low cross inviting Anene to help himself to a simple tap in for his fourth goal in three games. Anene had not had many touches but this one gave Crewe a deserved lead just before the half an hour mark.
If was that goal was easy as you like, the second one a couple of minutes later was absolutely brilliant. Pickering found Lowery in our own half and after he cleverly spun away from Taylor in the centre of the pitch, he was given the freedom of the pitch to race into the Stevenage half of the pitch.
The midfielder clipped a fantastic ball over to Kirk and his instant controlled cross was met by the head of the attack minded Finney, who had raced forward to support a breath taking counter-attack to finish from close range.
It was Finney’s fourth of the season and Crewe had a two goal cushion.
It could and should have been more.
The Railwaymen controlled the possession and looked a threat down the flanks whenever Powell or Kirk had it. We looked a threat every time we attacked and Kirk nearly caught out Farman with a low drive but he did well to see it and get down and get a strong glove on it.
Crewe went in at the break two goals to the good but would have been slightly disappointed that the scoreline had not been even more comfortable.
The Railwaymen carried on where they left off and after another patient build-up, Pickering whistled a cross right across the Stevenage box. Moments later, Lowery released Powell and his cross was headed wide by Anene as he stole half a yard on Cuthbert.
With Crewe pressing for a killer third goal, Pickering looked to have been fouled as he cut across his man but referee let play proceed and Finney drew another decent save from the busy Farman. Moments later, Finney fired over the bar from 25 yards after being found in space by is skipper Ng. Anene then couldn’t quite take a through ball down to go clear on goal.
It appeared only a matter of time before a Crewe third goal but we also had to keep that backdoor firmly shut because a goal for the home side would have given them a jolt.
That Stevenage lifeline never looked like coming and as a contest it was ended on 56 minutes. Crewe kept possession before switching play to Ng and his immediate through ball saw Powell race clear. The winger checked to see if the assistant was going to raise his flag. He didn’t so Powell duly drilled into the far corner for his second goal for the club.
Stevenage, now looking rather dispirited did try to pull one back but Taylor had a shot blocked on the edge of the box by Nolan.
Chuma Anene then shook the Stevenage crossbar with a close range header from a corner. He was really unlucky to his see his powerful connection hit the underside of the bar and bounce clear.
Mark Sampson, standing in for the final time before Graham Westley officially takes charge on Monday, then made three changes at once with Taylor, Timlin and Carter all making way for Soares, Cowley and Lakin coming on.
Before those new players had time to settle into the game, it was 4-0. Pickering’s wonderful delivery was finished off by Chuma Anene at the far post. He had helped himself to his 5th goal in three games by again getting ahead of Nugent and Cuthbert.
David Artell made two changes with Ainley and Green replacing Lowery and Finney.
Pickering then had shot blocked before four became five on 70 minutes. It was another wonderful move with Green finding Pickering and his low cross aimed for Anene was turned into his own net by Cuthbert.
Ainley then tried to added to the growing tally but his fierce shot was saved and Green’s follow up effort was blocked too.
The final change from Crewe saw Dale replace Powell.
Stevenage’s Sonupe had a great chance to spoil our clean sheet but he screwed his shot wide after running clear of our back line. Nolan did enough to put him off. Kennedy also a hit free-kick over from 25 yards.
Annoyingly that goal for the home side did come on 83 minutes. Crewe weren’t set for a short corner and Cuthbert headed home a consolation. It was far too simple but the reaction of the players was good because we had surrendered our clean sheet far too cheaply.
Kirk deserved a goal for his performance and he shot just wide as he looked to make it six. Dale then had a chance to make it six after he raced clear but he elected to round the goalkeeper instead of perhaps rolling it across for Anene. Dale made the choice to go himself but from a tight angle, he shot into the side netting.