Oli Finney scored his 8th goal of the season but Crewe Alexandra were held to a 1-1 draw against a spirited AFC Wimbledon side this afternoon. It was another tough game against Glyn Hodges’ side on a tricky pitch, but after a slow start that saw us concede from a cross inside the first two minutes, the Railwaymen had to settle for a point.
It means Crewe extend their unbeaten run to 10 games in League One but the Alex will feel they had enough chances in the second half to have gone and perhaps shaded it over the 90 minutes. Saying that Dave Richards had to produce a good second half save to deny the Dons a winner.
Crewe Alexandra boss David Artell was forced into two changes at full-back for the visit of AFC Wimbledon.
With Luke Offord and Harry Pickering both injured in mid-week against Bristol Rovers, new loan signing Billy Jones started at right-back and youngster Rio Adebisi at left-back.
Mikael Mandron was not fit enough to take his place in the 18-man squad, so Chris Porter once again led the line.
Loan signing, Stephen Walker, was named on the substitutes’ bench and there was a recall in the squad for the vastly experienced Eddie Nolan.
The Alex ground staff did a fantastic shift to make sure the snow was cleared off the covers and the game got the go-ahead after minus temperaments overnight.
Crewe made a slow start to the game and were punished inside two minutes. AFC Wimbledon worked it off the left hand side and Cheye Alexander’s deep cross to the far post wasn’t reached by Dave Richards and the towering Joel Pigott came over the top of Jones to head into the empty net. It was a poor goal to concede from a Crewe perspective.
Following that early goal, it took Crewe a while to settle into the game. Pigott had another half chance after stealing in behind but he didn’t quite connect right with his shot and it became an easier collect for Richards.
Midfielder Jack Rudoni came away from his priority of marking Ryan Wintle to fire over Richards’ crossbar before Crewe began to conjure up some half chances of our own. Oli Finney had a couple of efforts blocked instead a crowded penalty area before Omar Beckles powerfully headed over.
At the other end, Beckles had to do his defensive duties by hooking a dangerous looking cross from Nesta Guinness-Walker over his own bar.
More fine combination play involving Kirk and Finney saw the ball drop to Dale at the far post but his shot was blocked.
Crewe’s continued pressure finally told on 31 minutes. Jones, who grew into an impressive performance on his return to Gresty Road, provided the assist. Crewe’s movement from a throw-in saw Dale and Lowery combine to find Jones in behind and his lifted cross defeated Sam Walker but rebounded back off the far post. The loose ball was tucked away by the man on the spot, Oli Finney for his 8th goal of the season. It was a real poacher’s finish, lifting the ball into the roof of the net to give Walker absolutely no chance.
Crewe had fought they way back into the game after what had been a sluggish start from us.
AFC Wimbledon had chances to regain their lead before the break. Ryan Longman shut down a clearance from Richards and was unlucky to see his eventual effort deflected behind for a corner after Rudoni had managed to get the ball back to him.
Winger Alexander also fired off the Crewe crossbar with a fine cross shot after the ball was worked out to him on the right hand side.
Crewe were a threat down the Wimbledon left hand side though and more fine approach play from Jones saw him combine with Kirk and his low cross into the six yard box had to be whacked clear before a red shirt helped themselves to a tap in. It was miles better from the Alex.
The half ended with the pace of Longman troubling the last man standing Wintle and he was rather unlucky to see his low shot just clear Richards’ far post. It was a let off for Crewe as the Dons aimed to hit us on the counter-attack.
Kirk had an early glimpse of the goal in the opening minutes of the second half but was ruled offside before Rudoni had another shot blocked.
Wimbledon lost defender Paul Kalambayi through injury just minutes after coming on and he had to be replaced by George Dobson.
Crewe continued to press, looking to take the lead. Jones flicked a header from a Kirk corner over the bar before the influential winger had a volley blocked after good approach play down the right from Dale and Lowery.
Lowery, who captained the side in the absence of Harry Pickering, was replaced by Luke Murphy, who took the armband.
Crewe had to rely on a stunning save from Richards to protect our point. The Welshman had to palm out a back header from a Rudoni free-kick. At full stretch, he got a really strong hand on it to keep it out.
Crewe looked the more likely side to go and win the game. There was a strong shout for a penalty after Beckles went down under a challenge after he aimed to get his head on a corner.
Porter worked his socks off and had an competitive battle with Will Nightingale all afternoon before he was replaced for the fresh legs of Stephen Walker with just over 10 minutes remaining. Walker went through the middle.
Owen Dale had the best chance to win the game for the Alex when he had a volley at the far post after getting free of Rudoni but his shot was blocked.
AFC Wimbledon looked a threat on the break though, especially with the pace and directness of Ryan Longman but his best effort saw him curl one just wide after a smart turn.
That real chance never fell to either side and share of the spoils was probably fair overall.