Not for the first time this season, Crewe Alexandra had to come from behind in a game to claim all three points against a stubborn Swindon side.
No-one could argue that we thoroughly deserved it over the 90 minutes. Crewe wore Swindon Town in the end scoring three times in the final half an hour – two of those coming in injury time when Swindon were struggling physically.
The league’s leading scorer Eoin Doyle punished a lapse of concentration on 37 minutes to fire Swindon in front with virtually their first attack – but Crewe responded once again to score times in the second half.
The in-form Chris Porter netted his seventh goal of the season from a Tom Lowery cross to draw us level on the hour mark and the veteran forward then forced home a dramatic second in the final minute, before Charlie Kirk took advantage of a slip up from Rob Hunt to net his fourth goal of the season. The 3-1 win for the Alex keeps us top of the league and now two points clear of Bradford City.
The Alex pressure paid off and we kept going to make sure we emerged with a three points. Crewe once again showed that incredible character again to fight back but it was no more than we deserved after dominating the possession for much of the game. The Alexandra Stadium was absolutely bouncing again.
After scoring his first goal for the club at Carlisle United, Daniel Powell’s had a slight reoccurrence of an ankle injury and was deemed not fit to play. His place went to youngster Owen Dale.
Will Jaaskelainen returned from International duty with Finland to regain his place in the starting XI. David Richards dropped back down to the substitutes’ and youngster Sam Booth was omitted from the squad.
The former Crewe Alexandra midfielder, Anthony Grant, started for Swindon Town.
Crewe were soon on the front foot and dominated the ball for long periods in the Swindon half of the pitch. In the opening minutes, a flowing move from the Railwaymen saw Tom Lowery and Charlie Kirk combine to find Harry Pickering and his side-footed shot had to be tipped around the post by Steve Benda.
Nicky Hunt suffered an early injury but was able to continue after receiving some treatment but there was obviously an issue with his knee and he had to be replaced by the former Swindon defender Olly Lancashire.
More good approach play from a vibrant home side saw the lively Owen Dale clip a cross to the far post and following a touch off from Chris Porter, Charlie Kirk’s shot was again deflected for a corner.
Swindon were struggling to get hold of the ball or advance into our half of the pitch and the Crewe pressure continued but we were just lacking that final cross or pass. The Swindon defence were holding firm, cutting out numerous low and high crosses and centre-half Gabriel Zakauni was excellent with his interceptions.
Crewe continued to pinch possession almost at easy and a tantalising cross from Ng was just out of reach of a stretching Porter at the far post.
Swindon couldn’t settle into any sort of rhythm and it was no surprise that Richie Wellens made a change with Danny Rose replacing Keshi Anderson.
Totally against the run of play, the visitors took the lead out of nothing on 37 minutes. After good possession from Jerry Yates, full-back Rob Hunt whipped over a cross and after Lancashire had challenged for it, the ball bounced invitingly to the lethal Eoin Doyle and he didn’t need a second advantage, dispatching it into bottom corner for his 9th goal of the season.
Somehow Crewe found themselves behind but that was down to the prolific nature of Doyle, who is the leading scorer in the division. Our own Porter is breathing down his neck.
Crewe continued to press in the first half. Porter headed a Lowery corner over and Dale had a firm shot blocked by the sliding Zakuani after a fantastic take out of the air. In injury time, Kirk dragged an effort wide after Harry Pickering had picked him out close to the by-line.
Somehow Crewe went in at the break 1-0 down but again we didn’t panic and continued to be patient and find a way in. Porter headed an early effort over from a corner but the experience old pro kept plugging away and got his rewards in the end.
Crewe went in search of that equaliser. Ng pinched possession off the toe of Yates before he turn and fired into the side netting. It was close.
With the Alex again on top, Wellens made a double substitution with Kaiyne Woolery and Diallang Jaiyesimi replacing Isgrove and Yates.
Kirk shot straight at the goalkeeper and then a tempting cross from Lowery just missed everyone inside the box. His next delivery picked out Porter just before the hour mark and he stooped to head home his 7th goal of the season and draw Crewe deservedly level.
Swindon did have their best period of possession after our leveller but they never really troubled Will Jaaskelainen. Their best effort saw the ball drop for Doin Donohue but he shot into the gloves of the young Crewe goalkeeper. He had a quiet afternoon.
Swindon sat back and made things difficult. It was a matter of keeping patient and waiting for those clear openings. The pressure was intense and it seemed only a matter of time before it told. Wintle had a shot blocked at a corner and Nolan had a strong shout for a penalty when he was dragged down inside a crowded box from a Harry Pickering free-kick.
David Artell made two changes of him own to freshen things up for the final 10 minutes. Jones and Ainley replaced Green and Dale.
It was Swindon waiting the whistle and so it proved when a fantastic pass from Jones found Lowery across the box and after he played an interchange of passes with Ng, his low cross found an unmarked Porter. His instinctive first shot was kept out by Benda but he adjusted his feet superbly well to turn it over the line for 2-1. The clock had just turned 90 minutes.
There was still more to come in the six minutes of stoppage time. Kirk who threatened to score a goal all afternoon, raced onto a dreadful mistake from Hunt and he drew Benda and clipped home his 4th goal of the season.
Sub James Jones nearly grabbed a goal of his own deep into stoppage time when he raced through onto a pass from Porter but his clever lifted effort hit the side-netting. It may well have been a good save too from Benda.
The three points were thoroughly deserved as Crewe wore Swindon down in the end to remain top of the league.