Crewe's poor run of form in the league continues with defeat at Bolton.
Crewe Alexandra’s search for a first away win of the season in League One continues after Bolton Wanderers scored two second half goals at their windswept stadium this evening. Bolton came out on the front foot in that second period and were gifted a penalty just minutes in after Amadou Bakayoko was felled by David Richards and Josh Sheehan tucked home the spot kick.
Bakayogo helped himself to a close range tap-in to make it 2-0 and it became an uphill task. A late Madger Gomes half volley that struck the post and rebounded back out about summed up our luck on the night.
Following on from his impressive debut against Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Papa John’s Trophy, young defender Zac Williams was handed his first start in League One. Williams was named in a back three alongside Luke Offord and Terell Thomas with Rio Adebisi at right wing-back and Callum McFadzean on the left.
The Spaniard, Madger Gomes, was preferred in midfield ahead of club captain and former Wanderer Luke Murphy. Mika Mandron partnered Chris Long in a front two. Mandron was handed the captain’s armband.
A strong Alex bench included forwards Chris Porter, Scott Kashket and another who impressed in mid-week, midfielder Regan Griffiths.
Referee James Bell issued the first yellow card after 60 seconds when Elias Kachunga was booked for an infringement ahead of a Crewe Alexandra throw in.
The first half chance arrived in the 5th minute for the home side, but Amadou Bakayoko couldn’t keep his header down enough to trouble Dave Richards for the first time. Richards was called into action a couple of minutes later, bravely diving at the feet of Kieran Lee to prevent him from getting a cleaner shot at this goal. Richards smothered the ball and there was no spillage.
On 10 minutes, Mandron became the first Crewe player to be booked for an obvious pull on the shirt of MJ Williams as he stepped into our half of the pitch.
From a corner, Bakayogo dragged a shot well wide of the left hand post after a second phase cross invitingly dropped to him in too much space.
Bolton produced their best passing move of the first 20 minutes, Dapo Afoyalan came off the touchline to slide in Bakayogo and it needed a combination of a recovering Thomas and the sliding out Richards to divert the ball behind for a corner. The Alex pair did enough to prevent a goal scoring chance for the Bolton forward.
Young Williams made an excellent tackle on Kachunga as he threatened to make inroads down our left hand side and that was greeted with warm applause by the Alex fans. Williams was competitive, passed the ball well and looked more than comfortable at the level.
Moments later, both sets of fans acknowledged the sad passing of young Crewe fan, Joshua Spender. The fans applauded throughout the 23rd minute following his tragic and avoidable death. Our thoughts are very much with Josh’s family and friends.
The pressure continued to grow in and around the Crewe penalty area, but another fine block denied Kachunga again. Long joined Mandron in the referee’s book for catching Santos as he tried to prevent Bolton defender from stepping out. He was followed by Gomes for a foul on the same player on 34 minutes. The referee had set the tone early on and the cards were inevitable.
Crewe were standing firm in our defending and Afoyalan was crowded out by Offord, forcing him to shoot wide after he had switched wings with Kachunga. Richards was hardly troubled.
In the first period, Crewe had some promising openings but just lacked that final ball of real quality and Joel Dixon didn’t have to make a save of any real note. A late half chance nearly fell to Mandron but he couldn’t quite get the high ball under control after a period of good possession from the Alex.
Bolton also had a late opportunity after a visionary back heal from Lloyd Isgrove released Lee inside the Crewe box but he couldn’t find anyone with his cross.
The home side quickly got on the front foot, forcing two early corners and raising the volume inside the University of Bolton Stadium.
Four minutes into the second half, Gomes surrendered possession too easily when trying to come out with it and the transition would see the ball transferred to the left hand side. As the ball came in, Luke Offord tried to deal with it by cushioning it back to his goalkeeper using his chest, but Bakayogo read his intention and nipped in between them to invite a foul. Referee Bell pointed to the penalty spot.
Josh Sheehan confidently stepped up to put Richards the wrong way for the opening goal of the night. After all the good defending and limiting Bolton to only half chances, it was another avoidable goal to concede.
The second goal duly arrived on 54 minutes and it was almost a carbon copy move in its creation. Afoyalan struck a wonderful cross field pass over to Isgrove on the right hand side and his intention was to take on McFadzean and hit the by-line. He did just that and his low cross took a slight deflection to take it through to Bakayogo, who poked out a boot to score past Richards.
The real bright spark, Williams threw himself at Lowery’s free-kick to get their first and force Dixon into his first meaningful save on 58 minutes with his diving header.
Moments later, Lee shot over the top from a good position after he had pinched possession from Robertson. The Crewe midfielder had wanted a whistle after looking like he had been fouled but it was another let off for the Railwaymen.
On 64 minutes, a really good passing move from the Alex saw Adebisi, Mandron and Lowery all involved before Robertson shot wide from the edge of the box. It was better from Crewe.
With 20 minutes remaining, Kashket replaced Long to try and ignite something different up front.
Crewe needed a lifeline to get back into the contest. Porter replaced Mandron on 75 minutes and took the armband. Kashket had a sight of the Bolton goal but his shot was blocked. Bakayogo had a similar chance at the other end but his shot was blocked by Thomas.
Bolton’s quick start to the second half had provided the cushion for victory and their game management saw the game out in the closing minutes. With the minutes ticking away, Xavier Amaechi replaced Bakayogo.
That glint of hope nearly dropped to Kashket (literally) in the 88th minute. Nixon allowed a long ball to slip from his grasp and the alert Kashket reacted to the opportunity but the Bolton goalkeeper reacted to make the save.
A frustrating night ended with Offord becoming the fourth player to be booked for a block on the impressive Afoyalan.
A fantastic late half volley from Gomes some 25 yards out deserved better but it struck the inside of the post and rebounded back out to sum up our night. Nothing is going for us.