Pickering free-kick and fine finish from Kirk seal deserved 2-0 win over league leaders.
Crewe Alexandra produced another high-level performance to take the game to league leaders Peterborough United and run out deserved 2-0 winners this afternoon. It was finally the result to match the performance and it was such a shame that the Alex faithful were not there in person to see it.
The Railwaymen led 2-0 at the interval thanks to a well struck free-kick from Harry Pickering and an emphatic finish from Charlie Kirk and intelligently game managed the second half. Crewe deservedly kept a clean-sheet into the mix as well with Will Jaaskelainen hardly troubled throughout the 90 minutes.
To be fair to Artell's side a result like that had been on the cards for a while.
David Artell made a number of chances to the Alex side that lost 4-3 to Shrewsbury Town in the EFL Trophy on Tuesday evening.
The Alex boss reverted back to the side that defeated Bolton Wanderers 3-2 in the FA Cup but midfielder, Luke Murphy, returned from his slight problematic groin strain to regain a place on the substitutes’ bench.
Crewe Alexandra were good from the off and continued to press and hurry Peterborough into conceding possession, not allowing them to settle at Gresty Road.
In the early exchanges, Oli Finney went down under a challenge from Louis Reed but it would have been a rather soft penalty award. A couple of minutes later, Crewe created a great opportunity for Finney. A flowing passing more saw Offord switch play over to Powell on the right hand side and he in turn from the supporting Lowery. The diminutive midfielder clipped a perfect cross to find Finney in the air but he could only direct it wide of the target. It was a fantastic move that probably deserved to be the opening goal.
It continued to be all Crewe in the final third and most of the play was in and around the Peterborough penalty area. A run from Lowery nearly saw him in and a clever header back from Kirk nearly found Mandron but Beevers got ahead of him on this occasion.
Ng and winger Siriki Dembele continued to be an intriguing battle but Peterborough’s changes in the first half were few and far between. Joe Ward shot inches wide after he had been slipped in by Sammy Szmodics. A slight deflection took it just wide of Will Jaaskelainen’s far post.
After the lively Demble pinched possession from the toes of Ng, he fed Szmodics but unlike him, he side footed tamely at the Crewe goalkeeper.
Crewe were dominant and a probing run from Wintle saw him shoot just wide from 25 yards out before the break through game came on 29 minutes. Finney was tripped on the edge of the box by Reed and Pickering made them pay with another superb free-kick. Pym may thought Kirk was going to strike and took a step to his left and Pickering stepped up to plant in off the post for his fourth goal of the season. It was no more than the Alex deserved.
The Alex controlled the first period and deserved the second goal before the half time break. With four minutes remaining, Kirk read a really stray pass across the pitch from Niall Mason. The wide man intercepted it some 35 yards from goal, racing through the centre of the Peterborough defence and calmly lifted it past a helpless Pym.
Crewe deserved the 2-0 advantage but knew that a Darren Ferguson side would lift their performance in the second period. The Alex had to retain their shape defensively and contain Posh’s dangerous forward line.
Ferguson replaced Mason with Frazer Blake-Tracy at the interval and soon after Ethan Hamilton came on for Reed as they went chasing the game.
Beckles made a fine block to deny Szmodics a shot on target and Offord did enough to halt and put off Johnson Clarke-Harris just out the six yard box. Peterborough’s chances were limited though and Crewe’s game management was excellent. Wintle and Lowery ran the middle of the park with Wintle’s recovery and passing excellent throughout.
Wintle hit a sweeping ball over to Kirk and he in turn found the overlapping Pickering, who saw his shot blocked.
Clarke-Harris had a firm header cleared by Wintle before it forced Jaaskelainen into a rare save. The Alex stopper was called into action to push out a shot from distance from Reece Brown and sub Mo Eisa should have done better with the follow up.
Artell made the changes with the fresh legs of Dale and Murphy introduced for Powell and Finney.
The Alex goal in the closing stages was never really troubled and that clean-sheet was protected. Peterborough certainly had more of the ball in the second half but found a stubborn Alex backline, who were determined to keep that shut-out.
Clean-sheet, two goals, three points…well deserved.