Mandron cancels out Burns opener for Fleetwood as Crewe reach 30 points.
Crewe Alexandra’s leading scorer, Mikael Mandron, scored his 9th goal of the season to make sure the Railwaymen stretched their unbeaten run to six games in League One. Mandron got the rub of the green for his goal, seemingly lurking in an offside position from Omar Beckles’ knock down and then using his hand to control it before his sweeping finish past Jayson Leutwiler.
Crewe deserved a share of the spoils from a tetchy Boxing Day fixture that saw seven yellow cards. Fleetwood had taken the lead four minutes into the second half following a defensive mix-up between Omar Beckles and goalkeeper Will Jaaskelainen. Both left it for each other when Beckles should perhaps have whacked away the danger and that allowed winger, Wesley Burns, to chance his luck and he managed to poke home into an unguarded net. It was an ugly, avoidable goal to fall behind to.
The game was littered with fouls and stoppages and after 90 plus minutes, a draw was probably fair overall.
It certainly wasn’t vintage Crewe but after falling behind, it could be a valuable point.
David Artell was forced into a late change after Olly Lancashire was ruled out after injuring his calf in the warm-up. That meant Travis Johnson received a late call and Luke Offord switched back over to centre-half. Eddie Nolan was promoted to the bench, along with Dave Richards and Tom Lowery returning to the eighteen.
Both sides took the knee before kick-off. The Boxing Day fixture was pretty even in the early exchanges but the game was littered with petty fouls and stoppages. Uncharacteristically, Crewe had three players booked in the first period with both centre-halves and Owen Dale cautioned. Beckles and Dale were unfortunate to see a yellow card as they didn’t particularly warrant them.
A scrappy affair saw both sides give the ball away too cheaply at times. It took almost 20 minutes for the first genuine chance to arise with Wesley Burns’ far pass header hitting the post, then the mid-drift of Offord before deflecting behind for a Fleetwood corner.
Moments later, Burns turned provider with his wicked across the Crewe penalty reaching Josh Morris at the far post but at a stretch he could only fire high.
Crewe’s outstanding moment of the first half came in the 25th minute. The ball was switched to our dangerous left hand side and Pickering and Kirk combined to find Finney. He made progress into the Fleetwood box and his pull-back was left by Pickering for Kirk to collect and after having a good first touch, his curling shot certainly beat Jayson Leutwiler but the experienced defender, Charles Mulgrew cleared it superbly from the line. It was a wonderful move that properly deserved better but you had to credit Mulgrew for the clearance.
Dale and full-back Daniel Andrew had a running duel that intrigued those allowed to be present in the stadium and Murphy was arguably Crewe’s best performer in possession in the first period. Hr continued to hit probing passes throughout.
Mandron was a fine target too and his clever ball into Finney allowed him a shot at goal that was deflected away for a corner.
The game continued to be littered with fouls and Fleetwood’s danger man, the number 10, Callum Camps went looking for a penalty when he went down under a challenge from Offord. It would have been soft but the Fleetwood bench were up protesting in unison.
They were up even more when on 40 minutes, a Whelan free-kick was turned over his own line by Mandron at the far post - but Mulgrew had been offside when the ball had been flicked on by Madden and he had been interfering enough with the Crewe striker’s movement for the decision to go in Crewe’s favour. The Fleetwood players and management were not too happy about it though and vented their anger towards the officials.
Finney had an early chance in the opening minutes of the second half but he didn’t quite get a clean enough contact on it from Dale’s fine cross.
The deadlock was finally broken on 49 minutes and it was a poor defensive mix-up that led to it. Crewe didn’t deal with a clipped ball forward and Burns took full advantage in the left channel. He squeezed through Pickering and Beckles and after Will Jaaskelainen had left his line to perhaps collect it ahead of Beckles, the Fleetwood winger poked it past them both to score. It was an awful goal to concede.
Crewe tried to response and after he had combined well again with Kirk, Pickering’s shot just lacked the power to really trouble Leutwiler.
On a counter-attack, Pickering did his defensie duty when blocking a shot from Burns after a melee inside the Crewe box dropped to him.
On the hour mark, a crunching challenge from Jordan Rossiter on Wintle resulted in a yellow card for the Fleetwood midfielder and Crewe take full advantage from the free-kick. Pickering’s accurate delivery found Beckles in the air and his header down was contested between Callum Connolly and Mandron. The ball bounced invitingly to the Alex striker and there was a big call for a handball but the referee didn’t spot it and Mandron tucked home his 9th of the season.
The Fleetwood players were incensed and had a right to claim a double whammy with a suspected offside and handball from Mandron. Crewe didn’t care one jot.
Having equalised, Crewe grew in stature. Kirk and Finney combined to find Murphy on the edge of the box but his shot was deflected wide and would have been ruled out for an offside anyway.
Fleetwood had yet another penalty appeal waved away when Burns went down under a challenge from Pickering and that prompted a surge of substitutions. Both Fleetwood wide men made way and Artell introduced the fresh legs of Daniel Powell and Tom Lowery for Dale and Lowery.
Crewe certainly finished the stronger and looked the more likely side to snatch it. Pickering and Kirk drove the Alex forward with a cross from Pickering only needing a touch from Mandron or Powell coming in at the far post.
Mulgrew cut out another dangerous cross before an alert Leutwiler pushed away Pickering’s dipping corner. That real chance never fell for the Railwaymen and it was a point shared from more of a scrappy affair on Boxing Day.