League 2: Crewe Alexandra 1-1 Newport County

Crewe Alexandra battled to a draw at home to Newport County despite having a man disadvantage for the majority of the game at the Alexandra Stadium.

Crewe Alexandra made one change from their opening 2 games as young defender Harry Pickering came in for his full debut for midfielder Callum Ainley in a reshuffle which saw Eddie Nolan play centre-back and Brad Walker back in his preferred midfield position.

The opening chance of the game came to Newport captain Josh Ladabie on 9 minutes but he screwed his shot horribly wide before Perry Ng was booked for a pull-back on Sean Rigg as the former Port Vale winger had beaten him inside the Newport half. After a dozen minutes, Frank Nouble would first hit the side-netting via a deflection then score from the resulting set-piece after Crewe keeper Ben Garratt saved 2 efforts from loanee Shawn McCoulsky. Ng got a second yellow card minutes later for a mis-timed slide tackle with David Artell making more changes to his shape with Walker, Nolan and Michael Raynes moving into a back 3 and Pickering and George Cooper playing as the wide-midfielders.

The equaliser came on 19 minutes as Cooper got in down the Newport left allowing Chris Dagnall to score from close range before Newport right-back Ben White headed over from a corner. The next chance came on 37 minutes as White was denied by Garratt from close range as a deflection helped the ball into the defender’s path whilst Chris Porter almost gave the hosts the lead on the stroke of half-time with White turning his goal-bound effort onto the post with a superb block.

The second half saw Newport start on the front foot with Nouble getting in behind the Alex defence but he was dispossessed by Walker as he wanted too much time to pick out a shot whilst Garratt produced a double-save to deny Rigg from outside the area and McCoulsky from the follow-up.

With 20 minutes to go, Newport had a free-kick from 25 yards, taken by Matt Dolan, that was well held by Garratt. On 85 minutes, a cross from the Newport left deflected off Raynes and was, again, saved well by Garratt and both teams through everything to get a winner but it wasn’t coming.

Crewe: Garratt; Ng, Raynes, Nolan, Pickering; Walker, Wintle, Lowery; Dagnall (c, Ainley 75), Porter, Cooper (Bowery 86)

Newport: Day; White, O’Brien, Demetriou, Butler (Jahraldo 89); Willmott, Dolan, Ladabie (c), Rigg (Owen-Evans 74); McCoulsky (Reynolds 57), Nouble

Carabao Cup: Crewe Alexandra 1-2 Bolton Wanderers

Goals from Adam Armstrong and Derik Osede gave Bolton Wanderers a place in tonight’s Carabao Cup 2nd Round draw after coming from behind against Crewe Alexandra at the Alexandra Stadium.

Crewe Alexandra were unchanged from their opening League 2 fixture against Mansfield on Saturday so midfielder Brad Walker continued at the back whilst Bolton Wanderers made 10 changes with Stephen Darby the only player that started Sunday’s 3-2 home defeat to Leeds with full debuts being handed to Armstrong, Aaron Wilbraham, Will Buckley and Everton loanee Antonee Robinson.

The opening chance of the game came to Osede in the 10th minute as his shot from a corner was put wide before Chris Dagnall was denied by Robinson with a well-timed slide-tackle. The first Crewe attack of note came in the 27th minute as Dagnall beat 3 men but his cross was just past Chris Porter, fresh from his 2 goals in the Mansfield game. In the 37th minute, Tom Lowery’s cross from the right-wing was headed goal-wards by Porter but straight at Alnwick.

Crewe took the lead on 42 minutes as George Cooper’s cross from inside the area was headed home by Porter before Bolton had opportunities to get level before half-time through Armstrong and Buckley but the Crewe defence and Ben Garratt dealt with it well.

Into the second half, Walker was booked for kicking the ball anyway before Perry Ng’s right-wing cross was headed by Dagnall via a deflection for a corner. In the 63rd minute, Dagnall’s shot from the corner of the penalty area, which was deflected by Porter, but it was well saved by Alnwick before Walker’s shot from the edge of the area went just wide from a corner.

After a triple-change for Bolton which saw Jem Karacan, Gary Madine and a returning Filipe Morais from injury, Porter rattled the crossbar with a shot from distance before Bolton equalised minutes later as Buckley’s cutback was finished by Armstrong. The second Bolton goal came from a Morais free-kick which was headed home by former-Real Madrid Castilla defender Osede from 6 yards.

Crewe: Garratt; Ng, Raynes, Walker (Bowery 87), Nolan; Ainley (Pickering 83), Wintle, Lowery; Dagnall (c), Porter, Cooper

Bolton: Alnwick; Darby, Burke, Osede; Little (Morais 66), Pratley (c, Karacan 66), Buckley, Earing, Robinson; Wilbraham (Madine 66), Armstrong

League 2: Crewe Alexandra 2-2 Mansfield Town

Two goals from debutant Chris Porter were not enough to give Crewe Alexandra the win in the opening game after having their lead pegged back twice against pre-season promotion favourites Mansfield Town at the Alexandra Stadium yesterday afternoon.

Crewe Alexandra were unchanged from last Sunday`s 3-1 friendly win against a Stoke City XI with new signings Michael Raynes and Brad Walker partnering each other at centre back, fellow new signings Eddie Nolan and Porter at left-back and striker respectively. 2nd year scholar Billy Sass-Davies was on the bench along with Dave Richards, Jordan Bowery, Harry Pickering, Owen Dale, Charlie Kirk and Oliver Finney.

The opening chance of the game came in the opening minute as summer recruit Lee Angol got in behind the Alex defence but his shot was straight at Ben Garratt before Mal Benning`s left-wing cross was headed over the bar by Danny Rose minutes later. Crewe`s first effort at goal came from captain Chris Dagnall in the 13th minute following good work from Callum Ainley before Perry Ng`s left-footed shot from outside the area also found Conrad Logan`s gloves.

Eddie Nolan received the first yellow card of the new season blocking off Jacob Mellis as he tried to get on the end of a 1-2 with Angol narrowly missing the target with the resulting free-kick before Mellis became the first Stag in the book for a late challenge on Tommy Lowery. Crewe took the lead in the final minute of the first period when George Cooper`s deep corner was kept alive by Raynes whose header back into the middle was headed home by Porter. Danny Rose was also booked for a late challenge on Walker.

Into the second half, where Angol again forced Garratt into a diving save to his right before Rose equalised for Mansfield with a header from Benning`s cross in the 54th minute before he almost doubled his tally with a drive that went past the post. Walker became the next player in the book on the hour mark before Porter headed home again, this time from a left-wing cross from Cooper`s right-foot. Mansfield almost equalised straight away but Logan`s straight ball down the middle was just out of the reach of Rose and bounced through to Garratt.

Raynes was booked for rugby-tackling Angol and David Mirfin turned the ball in from 6 yards from the resulting free-kick, an in-swinger from the left foot of Joel Byrom, who minutes later fouled Lowery and received another yellow card. Ainley and Stags right-back Hayden White were both booked before Garratt made a superb save with his legs to deny Paul Anderson with just over 10 minutes on the clock.

Neither team could find a winner as the game drew to a close and a draw was a fair result.

Attendance: 4,933 (1,392 from Mansfield)

Crewe: Garratt; Ng, Raynes, Walker, Nolan; Ainley (Bowery 80), Wintle, Lowery; Dagnall (c), Porter, Cooper
Booked: Nolan, Walker, Raynes, Ainley

Mansfield: Logan; White, Mirfin, Diamond (c), Benning; Atkinson, Mellis (Digby 77), Byrom, Anderson; Angol (Sterling-James 71), Rose (Hamilton 84)
Booked: Mellis, Rose, Byrom, White, Sterling-James

League 2: Crewe Alexandra 3-0 Leyton Orient

First half goals from Callum Ainley, Ryan Wintle and George Cooper for Crewe Alexandra ended Leyton Orient’s 112 year stay in the Football League as they became the first team to be relegated into the National League at the Alexandra Stadium.

Crewe made 2 changes from last Monday’s 3-0 defeat at Yeovil Town with Cooper in for Jordan Bowery who couldn’t play against his parent club and Wintle replacing captain George Ray, the armband going to former Orient striker Chris Dagnall. Leyton Orient made 1 change from their 2-1 home win against Hartlepool last Monday with midfielder Liam Kelly being replaced by Tom Parkes, Teddy Mezague moving forward into midfield.

The hosts almost took the lead in the second minute when Oliver Turton was played in down the Alex right but his cross beat Dagnall into the centre with the striker about a yard from getting on the end of it. Cooper had the next effort at goal but it was saved by Sam Sargeant in the Orient goal before Dagnall was denied by a challenge from Parkes a minute later from Cooke’s left-wing cross.

The opening goal came on 26 minutes as Zoumana Bakayago was given the freedom of the Alex left to get a cross that was turned in by Ainley via a deflection at the back post. They extended the lead on the half hour as Cooper’s corner was headed home by Wintle despite an attempt to clear it off the line, the goal the first for Wintle in his professional career.

They almost extended the lead with 5 minutes before the break as a Parkes sliding challenge denied Ng his first ever goal for the Railwaymen before Dagnall’s effort was saved by Sargeant. They did get a third in the single minute of stoppage time as Ng released Dagnall down the right with him pulling the ball back for Cooper, whose shot found the bottom corner from just inside the area.

A double change at the break for the visitors saw captain Michael Collins and Mezague replaced by Paul McCallum and Josh Koroma as the O’s went to a back 3, with Parkes taking the armband. The game continued in the same pattern with Aron Pollock blocking a Callum Cooke shot before the Middlesbrough loanee almost turned provider for Dagnall with the experienced man again almost getting on the end of a cross from the left.

Harry Pickering came on for his senior debut just after the hour mark, a reward for his impressive season with Alex Morris’ U23 side, as he replaced Ainley who got a standing ovation from the home support whilst Bakayago was booked for an off-the-ball incident with Tristan Abrahams. After the tempo was slowed down for the final 20 minutes of the game, Abrahams had the first shot from Orient with 10 minutes left on the clock whilst Cooper hit the inside of the post from the corner of the area after Sargeant had made a save from Cooke.

Crewe’s next game is a trip to Plymouth next Saturday whilst Orient host Colchester on the same day. My next game, and final one of the season, will be Crewe’s final home game against Barnet on May 6th (5.30pm kick-off).

Crewe (4-4-2): Garratt; Turton, Ng, Bingham, Bakayago; Ainley (Pickering 63), Jones, Wintle, Cooke (Udoh 87); Dagnall (c), Cooper (Kirk 90)

Booked: Bakayago 72

Leyton Orient (4-4-2): Sargeant; Clark, Pollock, Parkes, Semedo; Collins (c, Koroma 45), Ochieng, Mezague (McCallum 45), Alzate; Adeboyejo (Dalby 74), Abrahams

U23 Professional Development League 2: Crewe Alexandra 0-2 Watford

Late goals from substitute Ogo Obi and Dion Pereira for Watford ended the play-off dreams for the Crewe Alexandra Under-23 team for this season this afternoon at the Alexandra Stadium.

Crewe Alexandra made 3 changes from last Monday’s 3-2 home win against Leeds with Billy Sass-Davies came in for Perry Ng at the back following Ng’s first team involvement on Monday at Yeovil, Jamie Wilkinson came in at left back for Ryan Wintle (a move that saw Harry Pickering play in central midfield) and Alex Kiwomya coming in for Callum Ainley, another of those who started in the south-west. Watford make 2 changes from their 4-1 defeat at Bristol City last week with Dion Pereira coming into their team for Carl Stewart in midfield and Michael Folivi coming in up front for Obi.

The opening chance of the game came for the visitors on 6 minutes after a defensive mix-up between Crewe goalkeeper Andy Dawber and Sass-Davies saw the defender nod the ball past his keeper with Watford trialist Harvey Bradbury hitting the outside of the post on the stretch. The next chance came on 27 minutes with Max Ryan hitting a half-volley wide from a right-wing cross.

On the half hour mark, Folivi took a shot from the edge of the area which Dawber fumbled and turned over the bar at the second attempt after palming the ball backwards whilst the first chance from the hosts came 4 minutes from the break as a deep Ross Woodcock cross was volleyed by Callum Saunders whose outside of the foot volley was saved by Charlie Bannister in the Hornets goal.

That chance settled the hosts down and they could have leveled through Daniel Udoh who couldn’t quite connect with a Pickering free-kick whilst Watford should have extended their lead on the stroke of half time with Bradbury heading wide from 8 yards out from a Ryan cross from the left.

A change at the break for the Railwaymen with Josh Lundstram coming on for Wilkinson, allowing Pickering to play in a more familiar position at left-back. Another chance fell the way of Bradbury but his left-footed drive was tipped away by Dawber for a corner. On the hour mark, Crewe made 2 substitutions with Lewis Reilly and Luke Walley coming on for Udoh and Kiwomya and David Sesay came on for Watford in place of Dennon Lewis before Watford hit the frame of the goal again with Folivi’s effort deflected onto the bar by Sass-Davies.

Into the 69th minute where from a Crewe corner Watford got their next chance with Pereira’s break down the right resulting in him picking out Folivi whose volley was blocked by teammate Bradbury, his last involvement as he was replaced by Obi. A rare Crewe chance came with 15 left on the clock as Pickering’s right-wing cross following a short corner was headed goalwards by Charlie Kirk with Bannister making a brilliant save diving away to his right.

Into the final 10 minutes with Watford making their final change of the game with Adeyemo coming onto the field for Brandon Mason, who left the field of play with cramp, with Sesay moving to left-back. A couple of minutes later Watford took the lead as central defender Charlie Rowan brought the ball out of the defence with Dawber spilling his effort at goal allowing Obi to round him and Sass-Davies and finish from a tight angle. The second of the game came deep into stoppage time after a short corner was ran into the area by Folivi and finished off the inside of the post by the impressive Pereira.

Crewe finish their season at Bramall Lane next Monday night against Sheffield United (7pm kick-off) whilst Watford finish the season with a home game on Friday against QPR at Vicarage Road (2pm kick-off). My next game is at the weekend as Crewe Alexandra host Leyton Orient in League 2.

Crewe (4-4-2): Dawber (c); Woodcock, Poscha, Sass-Davies, Wilkinson (Lundstram 46); Kirk, Pickering, Finney, Kiwomya (Walley 60); Udoh (Reilly 60), Saunders

Watford (4-4-2): Bannister; Eleftheriou (c), Mukena, Rowan, Mason (Adeyemo 81); Lewis (Sesay 63), Ryan, Ovenden, Pereira; Bradbury (Obi 69), Folivi

League 2: Crewe Alexandra 2-2 Notts County

Crewe Alexandra came from behind twice to level the game against mid-table Notts County at the Alexandra Stadium on Good Friday.

Crewe were unchanged for the sixth straight game whilst County made one change from their 2-1 win at Carlisle last Saturday with former Alex midfielder Michael O’Connor replacing Rob Milsom.

The hosts had the first opportunity as Billy Bingham’s effort from 25 yards was deflected for a corner before the visitors took the lead on 9 minutes. A misplaced ball from Crewe midfielder James Jones found Adam Campbell whose shot from just inside the area went underneath Ben Garratt’s body and into the net, his first goal since December. The closest Crewe came to equalising in the opening 20 minutes saw George Cooper’s cross turned away by Elliott Hewitt under pressure from Chris Dagnall.

The Magpies should have extended their lead on 35 minutes as the ball was cut back to Shola Ameobi whose 15 yard effort was wonderfully saved by Garratt and pushed out for a corner. 3 minutes later the Railwaymen equalised as Richard Duffy’s misplaced pass found Callum Cooke and the Boro loanee slid Dagnall in with the experienced striker placing the ball to keeper Adam Collin’s left. The final effort of the half saw Hewitt get in behind the Alex defence but was denied by captain George Ray just before he could get the shot away.

The opening effort of the second half came 3 minutes after the break as Carl Dickinson’s free-kick was well saved by Garratt after a foul by Ben Nugent on Jorge Grant. On 51 minutes County took the lead again as Jon Stead’s pass found O’Connor after Cooke gave the ball away with the Northern Irishman scoring his 2nd of the season. After efforts from Jordan Bowery and O’Connor, Crewe equalised as Dagnall’s run from the half-way line and shot from the edge of the area was deflected away but Jones’ volley went through the legs of Collin.

With 15 minutes to go, O’Connor volleys from the edge of the D but his effort was straight at Garratt. A contentious decision was made in the 90th minute as Ameobi went down under pressure from Garratt but the referee gave the former Newcastle player a yellow card for diving, those behind the goal have since suggested that it was a penalty.

Both teams are back in action on Monday with Crewe travelling to Yeovil and Notts County host Portsmouth. My next game is Nantwich vs Ilkeston tomorrow afternoon.

Crewe (4-3-3): Garratt; Turton, Ray (c), Nugent (Ng 69), Bakayago; Jones, Bingham, Cooke; Dagnall, Bowery, Cooper (Wintle 69)

Notts (4-4-2): Collin; Tootle, Duffy, Hollis, Dickinson; Grant, O’Connor, Hewitt, A.Campbell (Yeates 72); Stead (T.Campbell 90), Ameobi (Forte 90)

Booked: Hewitt 86, Ameobi 90

U23 Professional Development League 2: Crewe Alexandra 3-2 Leeds United

A superb volley from Callum Saunders gave Crewe Alexandra a 3-2 victory to keep their play-off dreams alive at Under-23 level against Leeds this afternoon at the Alexandra Stadium.

Crewe made 3 changes from their Cheshire Senior Cup victory over Nantwich last Wednesday with Andy Dawber starting in goal for Scott Wardley, Ross Woodcock replacing Jamie Wilkinson at right-back whilst Daniel Udoh came in for Owen Dale up front.

The opening chance of the game occured in the 2nd minute with Julio Lopez heading over a corner for the visitors before an Oliver Finney effort from the edge of the area with his weaker right foot was deflected over the bar for a corner a couple of minutes later. The opening goal of the game came on 26 minutes with a low Harry Pickering cross finding Daniel Udoh with his back to goal and his lay-off into the path of skipper Perry Ng who placed the ball into the bottom corner.

The equaliser for Leeds came 10 minutes before the break as left-back Tom Pearce’s cross was glanced into the far post by Sammy Amissah whilst the final effort of the first half came as Charlie Kirk’s left-footed effort from the edge of the area was saved by Mory Diaw in the Leeds goal.

Both teams made a change at the back with a change at centre back for Crewe as Billy Sass-Davies replaced Marcus Poscha whilst Mike Taylor replaced Robbie Gotts at right back for Leeds. Ryan Wintle, who it was later announced that he had extended his contract with the club for another year, drove a shot towards goal which was beaten away by Diaw before he gave Crewe the lead again on 55 minutes. The ball was played into Saunders whose lay-off was fired into the goal from 20 yards.

Leeds had a free-kick from 30 yards on the hour which Eoghan Stokes curled over before Saunders took an effort on from just inside the area which Diaw saved for a corner and substitute Jack Clarke’s effort from just out the area was tipped over the bar for a corner by Dawber. The final 15 minutes saw Wintle again go close as his shot was blocked by Lopez after the Alex midfielder took it around a defender after having to run round the referee.

Saunders scored the best goal of the game (and most probably of the season) as he volleyed Wintle’s long ball over Diaw on the stretch 12 minutes from time before a free-kick from Pearce was turned in by Taylor’s head inside the far post.

Crewe’s next game at this level is a week on Wednesday (19th April) against Watford at the Alexandra Stadium with a 1pm kick-off whilst Leeds host Sheffield Wednesday on 21st April at Elland Road. My next game is on Friday as Crewe host Notts County.

Crewe (4-4-2): Dawber; Woodcock, Ng (c), Poscha (Sass-Davies 46), Pickering; Ainley, Wintle, Finney, Kirk (Lundstram 90); Saunders, Udoh (Reilly 60)

Leeds (4-3-1-2): Diaw; Gotts (Taylor 46), O’Connor (c), Lopez, Pearce; Whitehouse, Nicell, Odour; Stokes; Amissah (Clarke 59), Knight (Wollerton 76)