- Railwaymen make it three straight home wins
- Goals from McDonald and Long do damage
- The Alex move to 51 points in League Two
Crewe Alexandra made it three home wins on the spin with a 2-0 success at the expense of Walsall.
First-half goals from Rod McDonald and Christopher Long proved enough for all three points in a commanding performance.
Joss Labadie saw red just after the hour-mark to make Walsall’s task even more difficult, and they could not find a way back.
The victory makes it five games unbeaten at Mornflake Stadium, and put 16th-placed Crewe on 51 points.
Lee Bell made six changes to the side that lost at Colchester. Two were enforced, with keeper James Beadle (ankle) and defender Connor O’Riordan (ankle) picking up injuries. They were replaced by Dave Richards and McDonald respectively.
Charlie Finney, recalled from his loan at Chorley, was handed his full debut in place of Rio Adebisi at left back, while Long made his first start of the season in attack.
Elliott Nevitt and Kelvin Mellor were recalled, while Sean Robertson, Lachlan Brook and Courtney Baker-Richardson dropped to the bench.
Walsall, who were without former Crewe man Donervon Daniels due to injury, were picking the ball out of the net inside three minutes.
Callum Ainley’s free-kick was perfectly delivered for McDonald to plant a header past the helpless keeper Owen Evans.
Connor Wilkinson nodded an Isaac Hutchinson cross-shot just wide as the visitors looked to respond.
But it was 2-0 on 26 minutes when Long burst into the box from the left, wriggled between a couple of defenders and found the bottom corner with a cool finish.
Saddlers boss Michael Flynn made two changes straight away, withdrawing skipper Liam Kinsella and defender Joe Low, as he switched to a back four.
Dan Agyei was inches away with a curling effort from range, and Finney saw a dipping volley deflected just over, as Crewe pressed for more.
Luke Offord made an important block from a Jamille Matt strike, to protect the clean sheet into the interval.
Mellor almost flicked home a Joel Tabiner corner, before sub Labadie was dismissed for receiving a second yellow card just after the hour.
Tabiner looped a close-range effort just over after good work down the left by Agyei, but chances were few and far between at either end.
Tom Knowles came close to pulling one back for the visitors when he burst through the middle with great pace but then dragged his shot wide.
Lachlan Brook’s strike was pushed round the post by Evans during a late break, and Agyei blazed wide in injury time.
Crewe (4-3-3): Richards; Mellor (Robertson, 72), McDonald, Offord, Finney (Colkett, 73); Thomas, Ainley (Uwakwe, 54), Tabiner; Nevitt (Baker-Richardson, 72), Agyei, Long (Brook, 49).
Subs not used: Booth, Amoo.
Booked: Mellor, McDonald.
Walsall (3-5-2): Evans; Lowe (Labadie, 27), Monthe, McEntee; Gordon, Kinsella (Riley, 27), Knowles, Comley, Hutchinson (Maddox, 65); Matt (Maher, 87), Wilkinson.
Subs not used: Smith, Williams, Stevens.
Booked: Labadie, Knowles, McEntee.
Sent off: Labadie.
Referee: C Boyeson.
Attendance: 4,857 (1,010).