Mandron brace from the penalty spot seals important home win over fellow strugglers Lincoln City
Two quick fire penalties converted by Mikael Mandron in the early minutes of the second half sealed a precious three points for Crewe in their quest to remain in League One. Crewe fully deserved the three points and the result moves off the bottom of the table heading into Saturday’s home game against Sheffield Wednesday.
Frenchman Mandron kept his nerve twice from the spot to put Crewe firmly in the driving seat and the task was made even more straight forward when Eyoma was sent off as a result for his professional foul on Ben Knight for the second penalty.
Midfielders Luke Murphy and Scott Robertson returned from suspension but had to settle for places on the bench. Robertson was a late inclusion in the squad after Chris Porter was unfortunately injured in the warm up. The on-loan Ben Knight was handed his opportunity in his place after impressing against Doncaster Rovers in the Papa John’s Trophy with a splendid goal and an assist.
Mikael Mandron was recalled to the starting line-up after Chris Long was ruled out due to self-isolation. Scott Kashket was injured and wasn’t included for the visit of the Imps.
In the 6th minute there was a minute of applause for youngster Arthur Labingo-Hughes. It was a moving tribute.
The game didn’t get chance to ignite mainly due to a substantial stoppage due to an injury to the Lincoln defender Adam Jackson. He tried to continue but was forced off after 16 minutes with TJ Eyoma replacing him.
Before that change, the visitors created the best chance of the first half. Chris Maguire slipped in Hakeeb Adelakun with an excellent through ball to send him one-on-one with Dave Richards and Crewe had the Welsh stopper to thank for making a fine save to deny them the lead.
Moments later and with Lincoln looking threatening, Ted Bishop bend a deflected effort just over the top of the Crewe crossbar. Billy Sass-Davies also did well to cut out a low cross from Jamie Robson.
Crewe conjured up their best effort after a flowing passing move that eventually found Ainley on the right hand side and find Knight but his side-footed shot was blocked by substitute Eyoma in the six yard box.
Lincoln continued to hussle Crewe, especially in midfield and at times we missed that out trying to hit Mandron. On 27 minutes, a forward thinking ball from Griffiths nearly found the run of Finney but he went for it with his foot rather than possibly his head.
From a good position, Mandron wasted a low cross and sent it tamely into the grasp of Griffiths in the Lincoln goal. Ben Knight also sent a free-kick from the edge of the box over the bar, as Crewe ended the first period on top.
Our best move saw Knight superbly ride a tackle from Liam Bridcott and after some fine passing involving Griffiths, Lowery and Finney, Mandron was played in with a chance to shoot but he lifted his effort clear of the crossbar.
There were 7 minutes of stoppage time to contend with after the injuries to Anderson early on but neither team conjured up another decent opening. In fact, it became a scrappy with Griffiths and Robson both booked for fouls.
There was a slight scare when Regan Poole nearly reached a through ball but Richards judged it superbly to collect it just inside his box.
The second half burst into life and within minutes the game was transformed by the award of the two spot-kicks. Mandron dispatched them perfectly past a helpless Griffiths. The first award appeared soft in our favour with Sass-Davies nudged as he jumped for an aerial ball after Mandron had won the first from the free-kick - but the second resulted in a red card for Eyoma for his foul on Knight.
Crewe had the advantage but after minutes of going 2-0 up, we presented Lincoln with a chance to get back into the game. A clearance was blocked and fell to Adelakun inside the Crewe box. Richards got a touch on the ball but the loose ball fell to Maguire but he wastefully blasted over.
The ten men of Lincoln City had a period of pressure to try and get back into the contest with substitute Fiorini firing just wide via a deflection. Bishop also had an effort deflected wide after a free-kick found him inside the box.
Appleton replaced Adelakun for Nlundulu, who was a handful but Williams was excellent again. He matched his physicality and kept the ball well to control the remainder of the game. The introduction of Murphy certainly helped with that.
Travis Johnson also came on for Ainley, as he continued his return from injury.
Williams grew in confidence and went close to his first senior goal when his effort was just over.
Mandron was denied a hat-trick after his shot across goal was pushed out by Griffiths and then Knight should have made it 3-0 when Mandron sent him clear on goal but again the Lincoln goalkeeper stood up well to save.
Lincoln had a late chance to possibly make a grandstand finish but Montsma saw his close range deflected over once again. Crewe protected our goal really well and kept the ball for most of the final 10 minutes to seal another morale boosting victory.