Another brace from Powell sees Crewe start the season on a flier.
Crewe Alexandra celebrated the turn of the year with an emphatic 4-1 victory over Carlisle United this afternoon. Crewe were simply on a different level to the visitors in the first half, scoring four fantastic goals.
Daniel Powell scored a brace to take his recent tally to five goals in the past four games after Callum Ainley bravely headed home the opener. Chuma Anene arguably scored the pick of the bunch with a well-taken curling effort into the top corner to make it four before the break.
Crewe’s sublime football was joy to behold in the first 45 minutes and Carlisle struggled to get anywhere near us. They had no answer to our fluent passing, movement, interchange of positions and our players dropping off into pockets and finding space to terrorise their shell shocked back four.
The Railwaymen simply played through them with a real intensity and accuracy of passing and everything clicked in front of goal too.
To their credit though Chris Beech's side regrouped and improved dramatically in the second period, pulling a deserved goal back with their full-back Jack Iredale scoring from long range to ruin our clean-sheet.
Carlisle added an extra body in midfield with Jack Bridge making a difference when replacing Hallam Hope at half-time.
Crewe were never in any real danger though and our game management was good enough to make sure that they never had a sniff of any potential comeback.
With the quick turnaround of games, Harry Pickering didn’t recover in time from his tight hamstring for the visit of Carlisle United. Rio Adebisi, who deputised as substitute for Pickering in the 3-1 win over Scunthorpe United was handed his full League debut at left-back. The promotion of Adebisi to the starting XI meant a place in the eighteen for Billy Sass-Davis.
That was the only change from the side that won so convincingly against the Iron three days ago because neither Chris Porter or Eddie Nolan were deemed fit enough to return.
The former Crewe loanee forward, Harry McKirdy started for the Cumbrians on his return to Gresty Road.
Crewe were the better side in the opening ten minutes but didn’t actually create too many chances on goal. That would soon change.
It was a tentative opening. Adebisi pulled an early ball out of the sky to ease any pre-match nerves he may have been suffering from and a confident Ainley started to terrorise Jack Iredale with his ability.
Carlisle had an early free-kick taken by Nathan Jones that was swung into our box but headed clear by captain Perry Ng.
The first real effort on goal came from the in-form Powell. He demonstrated his power to come of the left flank and fire a shot that had to be pushed away by Adam Collin. In the follow up, Kirk couldn’t quite pick out one of his team-mates.
Ainley soon found Kirk inside the box but his well struck shot was blocked and it wouldn’t be long before Crewe opened the scoring.
The first goal arrived on 17 minutes. A patient build up of 16 passes, saw the ball switched from back to front and after Kirk had produced a perfectly weighted pass to slide Green down the right flank, his perfect cross was headed home bravely at Ainley. He got a bash for his troubles off Gethin Jones but he didn’t care too much when registering his second goal of the season.
Ainley should have had a second minutes later after more sublime football saw Lowery pull the ball back for him but on this occasion he shot wide of the mark. He would be disappointed not to have least hit the target. It was no surprise that Sagaf would be the first booked for a foul on Ainley, as he continued to pop up in positions and cause havoc.
The deserved second goal duly arrived on 26 minutes. Lowery produced a moment of skill in midfield to acquire the space to feed Ainley and his instant pass into Powell allowed him to dominate his opponent and fire through the legs of the helpless Collin.
Crewe were really enjoying themselves now and the football was excellent.
Ryan Loft was booked for a high foot on Ng and from the free-kick, Crewe scored the third. Ng tapped it to Wintle and his long ball up the field was touched on by Anene through to Powell. He cut back on his left foot inside the box and blasted home his second goal of the game.
The way Crewe were playing, it was no surprise that a fourth goal arrived before the half-time whistle. Ainley and Ng were again involved off the right and after a subtle touch from Green into Chuma Anene, he took the ball away from Bryon Webster on the turn before striking an unstoppable shot into the top corner for his 8th goal of the season. As a contest it was all over.
Carlisle tried to pull one back but Hope couldn’t quite reach McKirdy’s low cross across the six yard box and Lowery did enough to put him off in retreat.
Bridge came on for Carlisle at the break and that extra man in midfield certainly helped them get more of a foothold in the game. McKirdy, who always tried fired over before the impressive Thomas forced Will Jaaskelainen into his first meaningful save. Powell was also called upon to head out of our own box as the visitors applied some concerted pressure and forced a number of corners.
Jaaskelainen had to dive on a dangerous low cross from McKirdy before Iredale unleashed a shot from distance that flew past the Alex goalkeeper to pull one back on 54 minutes. It looked to swerve in mid-flight following a slight defelction and the Crewe goalkeeper may have been unsighted.
A deflected effort from McKirdy dropped just wide as they upped the stakes again and Crewe needed to get more of a grip on the proceedings. It was our turn to struggle to get into the opposition half of the pitch.
Artell made his first change with Dale replacing Kirk. Dale was soon booked for a ‘foul’ on Sagaf but it looked it should have been the other way round. The midfielder had blocked off the winger as he tried to race onto a long ball but the injury forced Sagaf off and he had to be replaced by Taylor Charters.
Crewe slowly but surely began to impose ourselves back into the game. Ainley fired powerfully wide after a corner had dropped out to him before he was replaced by Finney. Powell also shot high after a free-kick .
A forceful run from Wintle, then found Ng but the skipper shot straight at the goalkeeper.
Powell’s one real chance of scoring a hat-trick goal saw Collin spill a shot from sub Dale but he couldn’t beat Webster to the loose rebound.
Crewe couldn’t add to the tally with Finney dragging a shot wide of the mark after being found by Lowery but we finished strongly and controlled the closing stages with real efficiently.