- Reds suffer first reverse of 2023
- Debut for Robertson off the bench
- Alex drop to 18th in League Two
Crewe Alexandra suffered their first defeat of 2023 at the hands of Grimsby Town.
John McAtee’s early strike set the tone for a disappointing day, and The Railwaymen never recovered.
George Lloyd added a second before the break, and sub Tom Dickson-Peters completed a miserable afternoon late on.
It was a blow for Lee Bell and his side, who did not hit the standards they have set recently.
Now they must lick their wounds and respond when Leyton Orient visit on Tuesday (7.45pm).
Bell was forced into two of his three changes due to injuries to Rod McDonald and Kelvin Mellor. Captain Luke Offord came in at right-back, while Billy Sass-Davies was called into the heart of defence.
David Amoo was handed his full league debut for the club, at the expense of Bassala Sambou, who dropped to the bench.
The visitors hit the front in the third minute when Lloyd cleverly laid off to McAtee and the on-loan striker curled into the corner from outside the area.
Keeper Dave Richards comfortably held McAtee’s lobbed effort, and Harry Clifton blasted a volley over after finding space in the box.
At the other end, Amoo looked lively and Callum Ainley was close to meeting a Rio Adebisi cross from the left, but the Alex struggled to make a dent.
It was 2-0 on 31 minutes when Lloyd broke free in the inside left and beat Richards low into the far corner from outside the box.
The Railwaymen huffed and puffed, and switched to a back three, but they couldn’t hit back before the interval.
Bell made three changes at the break, introducing Charlie Colkett, Ryan Finnigan and handed a debut to Sean Robertson. Conor Thomas, Sass-Davies and Regan Griffiths made way.
And after a scrappy 15 minutes, the manager rolled the dice again with the introduction of Sambou and Lachlan Brook.
On 65 minutes Sambou was played through by Colkett but when he went down under contact from Niall Maher the referee wasn’t interested.
The lively Robertson crossed for Rio Adebisi but the defender’s volley was blocked, while Elliott Nevitt had penalty appeals turned down after he went down in the box.
Grimsby sub Dickson-Peters stabbed home the killer blow from close range after an 84th-minute counter attack.
Agyei cut in and curled over the bar as the clock ticked down, and Town keeper Max Crocombe remained untroubled.
Crewe (4-2-3-1): Richards; Adebisi, O’Riordan, Sass-Davies (Robertson, 46, Offord; Griffiths (Finnigan, 46), Thomas (Colkett, 46); Agyei, Amoo (Brook, (60), Ainley (Sambou, 60), Nevitt.
Subs not used: Beadle, Tabiner.
Grimsby (5-3-2): Crocombe; Efee, Waterfall, Emmanuel, Maher, Amos; McAtee (O’Neill, 72), Hunt (Green, 72), Morris; Clifton (Glennon, 88), Lloyd (Dickson-Peters, 76).
Subs not used: Holohan, Orsi, Smith.
Referee: P Howard.
Attendance: 4,460 (657).