Nottingham strike gives Stanley all three points against his former club
Former Alex defender, Michael Nottingham, netted the only goal of the game at Mornflake Stadium as Accrington Stanley inflicted Crewe’s third defeat in the league. Nicknamed The Sherriff during his popular time with us, the giant centre-half was perfectly placed to convert from close range after a corner eventually dropped to him from a corner.
Stanley had the better chances of the first period with Ross Sykes heading against the crossbar and Matt Butcher spurning a really good chance in stoppage time. Richards did enough to just about put him off.
Crewe’s best chance saw captain Luke Murphy force a good save from James Trafford in the first half and then we had to wait for injury-time to see both subs, Callum McFadzean and Oli Finney denied a late leveller.
To compound matters, we also lost defender Luke Offord for two bookable offences as he was sent off in the 90th minute. He will now be suspended for the League Cup tie at Leeds.
Forward Chris Porter returned to the starting line-up and he was flanked in a front three with Mikael Mandron and Ben Knight. Shaun MacDonald overcame a bout of illness to regain his starting place with Oli Finney and Josh Lundstram dropping to the substitutes’ bench following the 1-0 defeat at Oxford United on Tuesday evening.
The visitors actually settled quicker and it was evident that they were aiming to be a major nuisance at set-pieces. They certainly dominated height wise. Coleman's side were a threat from long-throws and corners. From an early free-kick, Ross Sykes poked one into a crowd of Crewe defenders and Nottingham shot well over from distance.
In the opening 10 minutes, it was Crewe aiming for something on a counter-attack. In the air, Porter was certainly winning his fair share of headers and following our best early move, Terell Thomas, checked back well before lifting his shot over from 25 yards out.
The breakthrough came for Accrington Stanley and it was no great surprise that it came via a set-play. A shot from Harry Pell struck Thomas to go out for a corner and after Richards got something on Sykes’ first header as it dipped towards his far corner, it dropped too invitingly to the feet of Nottingham and the centre-half dispatched it with no messing. His celebration appeared rather subdued in respect of his time on loan at Crewe.
The Alex were now chasing the game and almost immediately a tempting centre from Knight was aimed for Porter but he was adjudged to have jumped into James Trafford. It looked a soft award for the Accrington goalkeeper. It would happen all game with the flow disrupted by petty fouls and a flurry of cards.
At the other end, MacDonald made a superb tackle to halt Sean McConville in full flow before midfielder, Pell had a great chance to double their lead but shot straight at Richards from no more than 8 yards out. Moments later, Richards appeared to get his finger tip to another Sykes header from a corner. The referee gave a goal kick after the ball clipped the crossbar and went over.
Crewe’s best chance of the first half on 36 minutes, saw Knight and Ramsay combine down the right and after Mandron laid one off perfectly for captain Murphy and his low drive was pushed away for a corner by Trafford.
Sykes was booked for chopping down Ainley before Porter dragged a shot wide after a deft touch off the wing from Knight.
Crewe could have gone in at the break two behind but a heavy touch from Matt Butcher saw him take it past Richards and out of play. If he had controlled it better he would have scored certainly but credit also to Richards who had got out to him quickly.
The fouls and yellow cards flowed. Pell was booked for body checking Rio Adebisi before Offord and Murphy were both cautioned early on. Pell was soon replaced by Joel Mumbongo.
David Artell made a change of his own soon after Finney on for Knight, who had showed flashes of his quality with some fine crosses. Ainley and Finney so nearly combined inside the box to create an opening before Porter had a shot blocked after a forceful run. He also nearly reached a dangerous cross from Adebisi.
Trafford was booked for time wasting and was perhaps later fortunate not to see another late on.
Driven on by skipper, Murphy, Crewe continued to press. Murphy mis-hit a cross that ended on top of the netting before Trafford did well to hold on to a dangerous centre from Mandron.
Crewe continued to give it a real go but after being booked Ramsay made way for McFadzean. Adebisi moved to right-back. Regan Griffiths replaced MacDonald as Crewe tried desperately to level. The chances came late, McFazdean playing a neat exchange of passes with Thomas, but his shot was superbly blocked.
The best save from Trafford then saw him deny Finney after Porter had knocked down into his path. The keeper got down well to turn it behind.
Saying that Mumbongo had a couple of really good chances to seal it but dragged his shot wide on the break and after getting away from Offord, the Alex defender pulled him down to earn his second yellow card of the afternoon. Crewe ended the game with 10 men but on the front foot but we couldn’t force home an equaliser