More frustration for the Alex as we fail to take chances and then sub John Akinde heads home the winner at Gresty Road.
Crewe Alexandra are getting sick of losing 1-0 this season. Not for the first time, Crewe had a glutton of real chances, but were left once again left frustrated after missing them or seeing them saved. It is becoming a similar pattern.
It was such a similar story with Daniel Powell and Mikael Mandron hitting the post in either half and the Gillingham goalkeeper Joe Lumley making good saves to deny Mandron and Callum Ainley in a first half that Crewe dominated.
If it was three or four nil at the interval there would have been few complaints but it was again a case of should of and could of, as Gillingham introduced John Akinde as an early replacement in the second half and the big man headed home the only goal of the game.
The Railwaymen have now lost three consecutive matches 1-0 and as the boss has been saying all week after the narrow defeat at Ipswich, you have to stick the ball in the back of the net. It is the big thing missing from decent performances and that is why goalscorers are most in demand.
Frustrating wasn’t the word!
For the visit of Gillingham, David Artell made one change from the side that narrowly lost 1-0 to Ipswich Town at the weekend.
The more physical Daniel Powell returned to the starting line-up on the right hand side, ahead of Owen Dale.
The former Crewe Alexandra forward, Vadaine Oliver started for Steve Evans’ Gills at the Alexandra Stadium.
Crewe Alexandra made the brighter start to the game and quickly got into their passing rhythm. Perry Ng was invited to shoot early on and accepted it with a decent effort from 25 yards.
Luke Offord was booked for a foul on winger Trae Coyle early on and Gillingham continued to look for the presence of Oliver and his battling qualities throughout the first period. The visitors first chance saw full back, Connor Ogilvie, loop a header goalwards that was collected by Will Jaaskelainen. Wintle also made a fantastic clearance inside his own six yard box to foil the advanced Ogilvie again.
Oliver also headed straight at the Crewe goalkeeper as the Gills had a better spell of possession in our half of the pitch.
Crewe’s first real opportunity came in the 16th minute and it should have resulted in the opening goal. It was a fantastic, flowing move with Powell and Ng involved before Mandron spun superbly to feed Lowery through the middle of the Gills defence. His instant cross missed out Ogilvie to find Kikr but he side-footed wide of the target. You would have backed the Crewe number 10 from such a prominent position and it was a chance missed. It would be the first of many spurned on the night.
Lowery continued to be busy in the final third and his tracker, Robbie McKenzie, had his hands full with the most influential player on the pitch for Crewe.
Kirk and Ainley combined for the first time to see Ainley have a shot blocked for a corner before Crewe once again carved open the Gillingham defence once again on the half an hour mark. Mandron was the creator again, spinning again to feed Powell through. Joe Lumley elected to remain on his line and that allowed Powell to race clean through and he was unlucky to see his shot hit the foot of the post.
Moments later another Crewe move saw Lowery and Ainley combine to release Kirk and his cross shot was pushed out by Lumley and there was no-one from the Alex following up.
When Powell headed a clipped cross from Ng over the bar from a really good position, you began to sense that it could be another game where we would rue missed chances.
Gillingham had their half chances with Oliver heading back across the six yard when he could have gone for goal himself and the former Crewe man also did superbly well to chest down a long ball past Offord but he rushed his finish and tried to half volley first time on the bounce. He had more time than he thought. Crewe had to remain concentrated at the back.
An excellent through ball from Wintle was first collected by Powell and then nearly ran through to Kirk but it was just taken away from him at the death.
Mandron forced Lumley into a smart save from a close range header after fine wing play from Kirk and in the second phase, Kirk had a powerful shot blocked and diverted for a corner.
In stoppage time, a lovely tough from Mandron released Ainley and after a deft touch of his own, he created space to get his shot off. He did everything right and it took a tremendous tip over from Lumley to deny him.
An early chance in the second period saw Pickering have a shot deflected over before you sensed that it wasn’t going to be our night again when Pickering’s low cross was met by a stab by Mandron. His shot struck the post and landed gratefully into the arms of Lumley! The luck was firmly on the Gills side but Crewe needed to convert some of these golden chances too.
Mandron also headed wide as he attacked another cross from Pickering before Gillingham scored the only goal of the game on 58 minutes. Jordan Graham, who was having more of an influence on the game, delivered a cross from the right and Akinde got free to head home. Jaaskelainen got a strong hand to it but couldn’t keep it out.
Amazingly, Crewe were again chasing the game, a neat back heal from Kirk found Pickering but he sliced his effort wide of the far post.
Gillingham so nearly made it 2-0 though with Graham again the provider with the cross. This time, Tom O’Connor headed over unmarked.
To freshen things up, Dale came on for Powell and soon after in search of a goal, Finney replaced Ainley. Samuel replaced the hard working Oliver.
Crewe continued to press but just lacked that right decision in the final third. Anxiety began to take hold and we snatched at half chances or over hit crosses. At times we wanted to walk the ball into the net instead of trying our luck with a shot.
You also had to credit the Gillingham centre-halves who were immense and defended their box with a real stubbornness. They sat back, soaked up the pressure and were prepared to hit us on the break.
Finney struck a shot over and also had his better chance blocked. The ball was worked into Mandron and Pickering had another shot deflected behind for a corner.
In the closing stages, Zanzala was introduced for Lowery as we went for broke but that genuine chance never dropped for us.
In fact Gillingham arguably had the best chance to score again with goalkeeper Lumley sending Graham through up the pitch but he wastefully shot over.
Crewe never got that real break and we were again left frustrated as Gillngham stood firm during the four minutes of stoppage time to win their first game in six.