Twine hits stoppage time winner for Swindon but Alex left to rue a glutton of missed chances.
Crewe Alexandra should have three points this afternoon, looked like having to settle for one, but ended up with none with Swindon Town’s substitute Scott Twine scoring from a rebound in stoppage time. The Alex were left to rue a plethora of missed opportunities all afternoon with Mikael Mandron denied the match ball at least. It came back to haunt us big style.
Crewe made a dream start in the opening minutes with the recalled Tom Lowery scoring from close range from a Mandron assist.
Just minutes later though and Travis Johnson was guilty of putting into his own net after he made a rash decision with his header.
Mandron was either denied by some good shot stopping or not hitting the target and those missed chances came back to bite us in stoppage time with Twine reacting quickest to Dave Richards’ save to fire into an unguarded net.
Crewe only had themselves to blame for not taking our chances when on top.
David Artell made four changes to the side that lost 2-0 at Peterborough United last time out. With Billy Jones returning to his parent club due to injury, Travis Johnson regained the right-back spot.
Nathan Wood was handed his Crewe debut at centre-half alongside Omar Beckles with the former Swindon Town defender, Olly Lancashire, unlucky to drop to the substitutes’ bench following his strong performances of late.
Tom Lowery returned in place of Anthony Evans and Charlie Kirk returned for Daniel Powell after overcoming a tight hamstring.
There was also a place in the squad for a fit-again Donervon Daniels.
Nathan Wood’s first involvement in a Crewe shirt saw the on-loan Middlesbrough defender move across the 18-yard box and impede the veteran forward, Brett Pitman, from possibly getting a shot off. It was a good early boost for the teenager.
It didn’t take the Alex long to open the scoring. Moments after previously hitting the by-line with a forceful run, Mandron did it again on 6 minutes and this time was able to roll the ball over to the grateful Tom Lowery, who guided his finish past the helpless dive of Joe Wollacott in the Swindon goal. The goalkeeper had not been assisted by the defenders in front of him as Crewe exposed their back three with relative ease.
Crewe went awfully close to doubling the lead following a well crafted move down our trusted left hand side. Mikael Mandron found Harry Pickering and he instantly flowed it on to Kirk. The recalled winger clipped a perfect cross and Mandron’s downward header had to be wonderfully clawed out by Wollacott. It was a decisive save because a couple of minutes later, the home side were level.
An over hit cross from Dion Conroy found Johnson facing his own goal and the youngster could only direct his header past his own goalkeeper. It was level again after barely 10 minutes of play and the openness and chances continued.
A wonderfully struck pass from Luke Murphy should have seen Crewe back ahead but a stretching Mandron at the far post could only sent his shot into an upward curve and onto the top of the netting. It was a good chance for the club’s leading scorer to add to his tally.
At the other end of the pitch, the towering Thomas Broadbent, rose highest to head towards goal but it was an easier collect for Richards.
For much of the first half, Crewe continued to dominate much of the possession and be patient in our probing, but you also had to credit the home side for retreating in numbers and blocking or clearing a number of our crosses, stemming from both flanks.
Johnson did well again in a promising attack down the right but his low cross into the six-yard box was turned behind for a corner before Lowery could apply another decisive touch on goal.
Pitman had half chance in the opening minutes of the second half but he couldn’t quite direct his half volley on target. It was difficult but a player of Pitman’s calibre was one capable of finishing.
Mandron was presented with another wonderful opening after six minutes of the restart. Murphy clipped a ball over the top and with everyone expecting a flag to come up, Mandron raced onto it but from close range he couldn’t keep his volley down. The flag never materialised.
Mandron and his team-mates couldn’t believe that he couldn’t take full advantage of the chance and it was an almighty let-off for the home side.
The Alex continued to press, aiming to recapture the lead but Swindon did threaten on occasions. Pitman pinched Beckles pocket to set up Jordan Garrick but he blasted over. Moments later, Dave Richards, who had not a lot to do all afternoon, saved superbly from Pitman inside the six yard box. The Welshman made a fantastic reaction save to deny the veteran.
At the other end, Mandron, was denied by a superb block and then had a tap-in ruled out after Dale had adjudged to have fouled Dominic Thompson as he forced the ball down into the six yard box. A trio of real chances, culminated in another for Mandron after superb wing play from Kirk. He produced a teasing low cross that Mandron was so unlucky not to reach it with his studs.
On 66 minutes and Crewe really beginning to create chances with almost every attack, Kirk found Wintle just outside of the box and he fired just wide from a central position. There was also a loud shout for a penalty when Dale looked to have been impeded as he tried to get in front of Thompson and get a header on a cross. The referee waved away the appeals.
Daniel Powell replaced Dale soon after with Scott Twine on for Chris Missilou. Hope also came on for Garrick.
Thompson was cautioned for wrestling with Johnson. As the game entered the final stages, Crewe continued to press looking for a winner.
Swindon were presented with a presentable chance from a free-kick with six minutes to go after Beckles was penalised. Substitute Twine took it but Richards was right behind it to make a fairly comfortable save.
With the minutes ticking away and with it the chance of three points slipping away, Porter replaced Mandron – but not before he had had another effort saved by Wollacott. He got a strong hand to his shot and Swindon’s Broadbent managed to hit a clearance off of Powell for a goal kick. It summed his and Crewe’s afternoon in Wiltshire.
Those chances came back to bite us in the third minute of stoppage time with Twine keeping his composure to convert an unlikely winner after Richards had done well to push out Pitman’s shot. Swindon were fighting for their survival in League One and by netting that late winner have put a huge dent in our hopes of reaching the play-offs.