Lincoln's clinical finishing see them collect a deserved three points at the LNER Stadium.
Michael Appleton’s Lincoln City side made it a hat-trick of victories over Crewe Alexandra this season with a 3-0 home win this afternoon. After a bright start to the game, the Alex fell behind to a Morgan Rogers shot from the edge of the box in the first half and would later concede two more in the second period thanks to well taken finishes from Conor McGrandles and Brennan Johnson.
Lincoln were certainly more clinical in the final third than us this afternoon and they always seemed to score at the right time, just as Crewe were trying to build some momentum in the game.
Our chances were not as frequent as many games this season but Charlie Kirk did hit a post with a great effort at 2-0 and substitute Daniel Powell had his follow up effort brilliantly saved by Alex Palmer.
Stephen Walker and Nathan Wood both had half chances in the opening period with the game still goalless.
Crewe were second best on the day against a efficient and effective Lincoln side, who took their goals extremely well to deservedly claim the three points.
Walker’s equalising goal from the substitutes’ bench in mid-week saw him rewarded with a start this afternoon. The on-loan Middlesbrough youngster replaced Mikael Mandron, who began on the bench after a slight niggle sustained at Blackpool limited his training during the week.
Luke Murphy overcame the slight knock that kept him out of Tuesday night’s draw at Blackpool to regain his place in David Artell’s starting line-up. The experienced midfielder replaced loanee Antony Evans in the Alex midfield.
Full-back, Donervon Daniels had not fully recovered from his hamstring injury sustained at Bloomfield Road and his replacement on the night, Rio Adebisi, continued to deputise. There was a recall on the bench for Travis Johnson.
The former Crewe Alexandra Academy graduate, James Jones, started for Michael Appleton’s Lincoln side.
Crewe quickly settled into a passing groove at the LNER Stadium with our midfielders having a lot of possession in the centre of the park. There was an early half chance for Walker after his strike partner Chris Porter had headed down an early cross in his direction, but it was well defended.
After 8 minutes, the sprightly Walker then cut back inside the box before drilling a shot just wide and Crewe’s bright start continued with Murphy finding the front man and in turn his cross was so nearly touched home by a stretching Porter. It was just about smuggled off the line for corner. From the resulting set-piece from the left, Nathan Wood got under a deep cross from Harry Pickering to send his relatively free header over the cross bar.
A couple of minutes later, Lincoln conjured up their first chance of the game. It came from the boot of our former player, Jones, who hit a fizzing shot that pushed away by Richards, who got down really well. Callum Morton had the easy task of converting the rebound but he was clearly offside when Jones struck his shot and it was ruled out.
A forceful run from Brennan Johnson, saw him elect to go alone than attempt to find Morton and his low shot just cleared Richards’ right hand post. It was a fairly open affair, with both sides eager to score the opening goal.
That improvement from the home side saw them take the lead on 23 minutes after a period of good possession. After initially coming down the right flank, the Imps collected a clearance in midfield and after Johnson found Morgan Rogers, his drive from 20 yards beat the dive of Richards to give Appleton’s side the advantage.
Murphy was called upon in his own six yard box to hook away a dangerous cross from Lincoln’s most influential player, Johnson from reaching Morton for a tempting tap-in. Moments later, another promising run from Johnson saw his eventual shot deflected into the gloves of Richards by the outstretched leg of Wood.
Crewe continued to be patient in possession, but found it more difficult to penetrate a well organised Lincoln defence. In an attempt to shake thing up, Omar Beckles, took it upon himself to push forward and he flashed a volley over the top of the crossbar after he had broken the high line perfectly. Kirk also had a shot blocked after Porter had found him with a knock down. The home side also had a bit of a let off after goalkeeper, Alex Palmer, miscued a back pass and send it behind his own goal for a corner.
Lincoln were sharp with their passing and with their wide men, Johnson and scorer, Rogers they were a threat in the final third.
A quick throw from Kirk found Pickering and his whipped in cross fell to his fellow full-back on the other side and after a positive touch, Adebisi was a bit unlucky to see his shot on the turn take a deflection and flick through to Palmer.
Crewe were rather fortunate not to concede a second goal on the stroke of half time. Lincoln broke quickly on the back four and after Rogers slipped in the overlapping Cohen Bramall down our right channel, his low cross across the six yard box only needed a touch from the grounded Johnson at the far post to make it 2-0. He didn’t manage to reach it and it stayed at the deficit of one heading in for the interval.
The on-loan Nottingham Forest starlet, Johnson, started the second half pretty much how he left the first and after another burst of pace, his dangerous cross into a crowded six yard saw Morton go in with Richards, with the diving Crewe Alexandra goalkeeper doing enough to get it clear and Regan Poole couldn’t keep the attack alive.
It didn’t take the Imps too much longer though to score a decisive second goal. Crewe didn’t get close enough to the home side close to the half way line and Jones was given too much time to find Conor McGrandles on the edge of the penalty area and he curled home a wonderful shot past Richards.
The Alex goalkeeper made a fantastic save from Morton after he was put through on goal. The Lincoln forward did everything right after latching onto a long ball but Richards stood firm to make a strong one handed save.
That prompted a quick turnaround in personnel in attack with Walker and Porter replaced by Powell and Mandron.
It nearly had an instant impact too with Kirk so unlucky to see his fantastic shot somehow smack the post and stay out. It rebounded perfectly for Powell, who returned it with real interest, only to see the set-again Palmer pull off a goal preventing save.
Johnson’s pace was a constant threat down the left hand side and after taking on Pickering, his deft pull-back to Jones saw the supportive midfielder blast over.
Lincoln captain, Adam Jackson, was booked for coming through the back of Lowery before Tom Hopper replaced Morton for the Imps.
With just under 20 minutes remaining, Artell made another double change. Kirk and Wintle made way for Dale and Evans.
Five minutes later, Crewe were given a chance to get back into the game when Tayo Edun caught Pickering in face just outside the box. Substitute Evans hit his free-kick well enough but it was always rising.
Jones was booked for a late challenge on Murphy. Crewe needed a lifeline in the game but the Lincoln defence were standing firm and all hopes were ended with the home side's well worked third.
With ten minutes left, a well crafted move from the home side ended the game as a contest.
They once again broke quickly through Hopper on the left and the ball was worked into the best player on the pitch on the day, Johnson. He showed tidy feet before firing high and past Richards for his deserved goal.
It killed any hopes of us getting something from the game and Appleton’s side contained us, seeing out the remaining minutes to also claim a clean-sheet into the bargain.