Alex let 2-0 half time lead slip away to spirited Cambridge side.
Crewe Alexandra threw away a 2-0 half time lead to draw with newly promoted Cambridge United this afternoon. Crewe bossed most of the first half and deservedly led through first goals of the season from midfielders, Oli Finney and Scott Robertson, but a spirited second half fight back from Mark Bonner’s U’s saw them snatch a dramatic point.
Cambridge scored two goals in the final 10 minutes with the equaliser from Adam May hitting the back of the Crewe net as we entered the 94th minute.
If Rotherham felt like a win, this felt like a loss.
David Artell made two changes to the side that gallantly drew with Plymouth Argyle on Tuesday evening.
Chris Porter returned to the starting line-up with Mikael Mandron rested and on the substitutes’ bench. Porter led the line alongside Tuesday night’s goalscorer, Scott Kashket and J’Neil Bennett.
With Artell electing to change his playing system, an extra midfielder in Oli Finney returned to the starting line-up. Terell Thomas dropped to the bench as Artell reverted back to a flat back four.
Cambridge actually started the better in the drizzle but Joe Ironside headed a cross from James Brophy looping into the air. From an early corner, the Cambridge captain Paul Digby was denied a clean shot at goal from a bit of a melee before Will Jaaskelainen was called into action to make a good save with his foot after Jack Lankester got in behind on an overlap.
There was then a short stoppage after Rio Adebisi appeared to twist his ankle. After treatment, the left back was able to continue and Crewe began to really impose ourselves on the game. Luke Murphy and Scott Robertson got on the ball and got us playing. With more control, Cambridge were struggling to get significant time and it didn’t take too long for our dominance on the ball to count.
In the 10th minute, Robertson played the ball forward looking for the run of Porter and his presence unsettled the centre of the Cambridge defence and after the ball came loose from the forward’s boot, Finney raced onto it and lashed home his first goal of the season with a wonderfully, struck low drive past Dimitar Mitov. It was the perfect start for the Alex and our good play continued.
Saying that Cambridge did offer some threat on the counter attack. Offord made a strong block to close down a shot from distance from Adam May and James Brophy just couldn’t get his head on a wicked cross coming over from our left from Conor Masterson. Following on from another break from the visitors, Kashket was booked for a shove and the Alex winger then went down moments later close to the a touchline. With no-one near him, it looked an awkward one but he was able to continue for a few more minutes.
Kashket was still on the pitch when Crewe deservedly went 2-0 up. It was fantastically worked from a throw-in on the right. Finney produced the assist with a clever flick and Robertson raced in, took a decisive touch before sliding home for his first senior goal. It was a really calm finish from the on-loan Celtic youngster.
Mandron replaced the injured Kashket before the re-take. Crewe were in search of a third and killer goal but needed Bennett to make a superb block on a shot from Digby. The winger threw himself in front of his shot and his defending throughout was top class. He showed the other part of his game more than his creative best.
On 35 minutes, Bennett cleared from our box and a flowing move needed resulted in a third goal. Robertson found Porter and he had the awareness to spot the run of Finney outside him. He reversed it back to Mandron and his curling shot had to be pushed by Mitov. It would have been some goal.
A couple of minutes, a strong run from Cambridge’s May saw him hit the outside the post and O’Neil dragged a shot wide from a good position.
Crewe Alexandra ended the first half strongly, earning a couple of corners and Murphy releasing Bennett only for Cambridge to double up and cut out his low cross.
In stoppage time, Jones flicked a header out the other side from another cross from Lankester.
As expected, Cambridge United came out with little to lose and straight onto the front foot. Crewe weathered an early storm from the visitors and at the other end, Ramsay had a shot blocked and Mandron curled another effort wide.
Cambridge grew into the half though and on 58 minutes, Brophy’s centre was headed over the top from Ironside. May shot just wide and Digby volleyed a good chance high into the stand from a good position.
Bonner made a double change with Wes Hoolahan and Shilow Tracey adding some zest but Crewe were defending our box reasonably well. The two Cambridge substitutes combined and Offord needed to make a timely tackle on Tracey to prevent him getting a shot off.
Crewe also made a change with Lundstram on for Finney, who could be pleased with his afternoon after a goal and an assist. Cambridge’s last throw of the dice then saw Sam Smith introduced for Brophy.
To shore things up defensively, McFazdean replaced Bennett down the left hand side.
Cambridge’s first goal came on 80 minutes. Full-back, Jack Iredale took a great touch to give him a yard of space and he whipped over a superb cross. Smith reached to get a touch and got enough on it to take it agonizingly over the Crewe line. It was now, certainly game on.
Four minutes later, another of Cambridge’s subs, Tracey got in behind down the left but was wasteful with his finish. It was one almighty let off and Crewe were living dangerously.
With the minutes ticking away, Ramsay was booked for wrestling Iredale to the floor and Crewe were getting jittery. From another cross going into our box, the Mornflake Stadium held its breath as Jones got his head to a late chance but it somehow stayed out and Adebisi was hurt in the process.
That looked like being Cambridge’s big chance to salvage something but there was still four minutes of stoppage time to see through and we didn’t manage the time well.
Ramsay crossed looking for the advanced MacFadzean and that only surrendered possession back to the visitors. They had the initiative and were rewarded for their second half performance with that late equaliser. After he failed to clear our lines with any real conviction, Hoolahan used all his experience to tee up Adam May and he arrowed his shot from the edge of the Crewe box past a crowd of players and into the back of our net for really speaking, a well deserved point.