First half goals from Ports and Walker sees us up to 2nd.
Crewe Alexandra comfortably recorded their seventh home win in succession with a 2-0 win over our Cheshire rivals Macclesfield Town. First half goals from Chris Porter from the penalty spot and a first senior strike from Man-of-the-Match Stephen Walker put Crewe firmly in the driving seat and we had chances to add to that tally with Walker striking the post and James Jones and Ryan Wintle also going close.
The 2-0 win sees the Alex leapfrog into second place and the 7th home league win was a personal best since 1992 under Dario Gradi.
David Artell made one change from the Crewe Alexandra side that narrowly lost 2-1 to promotion rivals Plymouth Argyle last weekend. Oli Finney returned to the starting line-up in the Alex midfield ahead of the experienced Paul Green.
Daniel Powell, who was rated as ‘touch and go’ in the week was named on the substitutes’ bench alongside the likes of Nicky Hunt, Owen Dale, Callum Ainley and Chuma Anene.
Following an impeccably observed tribute to our former manager, Harry Gregg, Crewe Alexandra started the Cheshire derby on the front foot. Attacking the Gresty Road end of the Stadium, the Alex were virtually camped in the Macclesfield half of the pitch with Mark Kennedy’s side content to try and muster something on the counter attack. They operated with wing backs and tried to content a confident Crewe side.
An early low cross from Oli Finney out on the left was cut out inside the six yard box before it reached Chris Porter.
There was a strong wind whipping over Gresty Road but both sides tried to get the ball down and play football the right way. Macclesfield’s Ben Tollett was presented with a good opening after a promising break forward from Connor Kirby but he elected not to unleash a shot. Moments later Theo Archibald shot straight at Will Jaaskelainen from distance.
Crewe’s positive start to passing the ball paid off after just 11 minutes. From a throw in out on the right hand side, captain Perry Ng drifted past a couple of bodies with some neat footwork and his drag back close to the by-line saw Fraser Horsfall slid into the right-back and conceded a penalty. It was a lunging tackle and the referee had no hesitation.
Chris Porter stepped up to show that he had not been affected by last weekend’s miss at Plymouth to confidently slot home his 13th goal of the season. It was a fantastic start from the Railwaymen.
Crewe were a little sloppy passing out from the back at times but we were not tested in the final third. Nottingham poked the ball away from Shilow Tracey inside the box and there was a slight murmur for a penalty from the Macclesfield bench but the refere was once again right on the spot and he kept his arms firmly behind his back.
Porter volleyed a difficult chance from a Finney cross wide before Walker’s really strong run saw Jonthan Mitchell make a fine save to deny the on-loan Boro youngster. Finney also pulled a shot wide after he had been found by Kirk inside the box.
On 32 minutes, Crewe conjured up a really great chance to make it 2-0. Wintle’s excellent burst forward saw him find Finney and then into Kirk but his side footed shot was held by the busier Mitchell. It was a good chance.
The second goal came just three minutes later though. A loose pass out from Horshall only found Kirk and he looked up to play a perfect ball through to the unmarked Walker out on the right. He chested down the inch perfect cross field pass and drilled home his first senior goal. It was a wonderful finish and he has deserved a goal for his recent performances. He was booked for his celebration after he jumped into the crowd.
To their credit, Macclesfield continued to try their luck from distance and Jaaskelainen had to push an awkward shot from Danny Whitehead behind for a corner. From the corner, Arthur Gnahoua, headed wide.
Their best chance of the entire game could have seen them level at 1-1 but Corey O’Keefe fired over the top of the bar after the ball found him at the far post.
Crewe deservedly led 2-0 at the interval and in the early exchanges of the second period we went in search of a third goal. Perry Ng, who was excellent, fired wide of the far post and Wintle hit one from distance.
A forceful run from Finney nearly saw him force an own goal off Kelleher before Walker’s amazingly quick feet saw him smack the post. In the follow up, Wintle half volley bounced just wide of the far post.
Another fantastic move from the Railwaymen then saw Ng cross and Porter cleverly nod down for Jones but he shot wide from a good position. It was another fine move that would have been some goal.
With Crewe in complete control there was a flurry of substitutions. Porter made way for Anene and Ainley replaced Finney. The trio of changes were completed when Powell replaced Kirk.
Crewe never hit the heights in the last half an hour like they had in the previous hour. Walker flashed another shot over the top of the crossbar.
Macclesfield Town’s best chance was a gift from Wintle when a rare stray pass only found Tracey in the centre of the pitch and he raced into the Crewe box only to be denied by Jaaskelainen. He raced from his line to smother the chance. The Crewe Alexandra goalkeeper saved his best save just minutes later though to turn around a sliding effort from O’Keefe. He was out quickly to turn his effort behind for a corner.
Macclesfield offered threats from set-pieces but Horsfall couldn’t direct headers on target and Nottingham and Offord stood firm.
Crewe professionally saw out the remaining minutes to record a 7th home win on the bounce to go up to second in the league table.