Crewe suffer back-to-back defeats on the road, as Colby Bishop scores the only goal of the game on a cold night in Lancashire.
In a tight affair, it was a set piece just before the hour mark that broke the deadlock. Accrington striker, Colby Bishop, reacting quickest to help himself to his fourth goal of the season.
The Alex didn’t create too many opportunities all evening and Accrington saw out a late surge to collect a hard fought three points.
Defender Omar Beckles (groin) and forward Mikael Mandron (hamstring) missed out through injury – which meant for the return of last season’s leading marksman, Chris Porter. The veteran striker had been absent after aggravating his quad muscle in the warmup against Gillingham.
Olly Lancashire started the game replacing Beckles at the back. Also recalled to the starting XI was winger, Owen Dale, who took the place of Daniel Powell. The former Accrington forward, Offrande Zanzala, dropped to the bench after starting at Fratton Park.
Both sides began the game at pace, with each wanting to make the first break through although the game didn’t really have any openings in the first knockings.
The first real scare came on 15 minutes as Stanley’s number 10, Joe Pritchard, unleashed an effort from range. The Alex goalkeeper, Will Jaaskelainen, had his angles covered but the effort whistled wide of the post.
24 minutes in and it was the Alex who came close, forcing a save from Stanley goalkeeper Toby Savin. Charlie Kirk attacked towards goal and his pinpoint cross found Porter in the centre of penalty area, though he could only direct his header straight at Stanley’s number one.
The Railwaymen looked to be getting in the groove, as Kirk started to have a growing influence on the game, as did Oli Finney. The pair combined as Finney dropped his shoulder to dummy former Alex loanee Michael Nottingham, but his deflected cross clipped off the top of the Accrington crossbar. Crewe were certainly having their best spell and were looking lively down the left-hand side.
With both defences appearing to stand firm, both goalkeepers were challenged from range.
Again, good approach play down the Alex left saw Finney find Kirk and his probing cross had to deflected behind for a Crewe corner, before Chris Porter could apply a decisive touch at the far post.
In what was a fairly even half and nothing between the two sides, it seemed that something special would need to be done to break the deadlock.
Half Time: Accrington Stanley 0 vs 0 Crewe Alexandra
John Coleman made a change at the interval, which saw Newcastle loanee, Mo Sangare replace Jon Russell.
Crewe began the half rather careless in possession and lacked any sort of enthusiasm with the ball. Likewise, Stanley full back Harvey Rodgers, pinched possession to cross into Colby Bishop who climbed highest but could only head down and wide.
The Railwaymen’s carelessness in possession allowed Accrington to build some momentum in the early exchanges of the second half.
Albeit rather fortuitously, Kirk found the ball in possession on the far touchline, drifting inside he was able to find Owen Dale on the opposite flank. Though the winger was soon overcrowded, which saw his eventual shot blocked.
Finney and Kirk again combined down the left but his cross to the far post just evaded Lowery and Porter.
Harry Pickering was penalised on 59 minutes for a coming together with Stanley forward Dion Charles, which saw the Alex full back cautioned.
The resultant free kick meant Accrington opened the scoring, a curling Matt Butcher cross forced Jaaskelainen into a one handed save onto the woodwork. With the Finland u21 international out of the equation, it was a result of who reacted quickest? Colby Bishop was on his toes and able to head home.
It continued to be a battle for the Railwaymen; unable to get the ball down and play the Alex way it appeared to be game, set and match for the Reds.
David Artell was aware of the importance to try and gain something from the game, in which case he turned to his bench on 70 minutes. Callum Ainley replaced Tom Lowery.
Accrington were forced into a second change when Harvey Rodgers was forced off through injury. Replaced by Ryan Cassidy.
Just under a quarter of an hour remaining and Artell made another change. Daniel Powell replacing Owen Dale.
Powell’s first real involvement saw the winger attack the right flank, crossing what looked to be a dangerous ball into the Stanley penalty area, it could only find a red shirt following a deflection.
With time running out, Artell made a double change with Luke Murphy and Offrande Zanzala on for Ryan Wintle and Chris Porter.
John Coleman’s side were happy to sit back and soak up the Alex pressure. Dominating the ball in the closing period, Crewe hoped to get that final opportunity. Though credit to the home side for the way they continued to frustrate the Alex, defending well and maintaining their shape.
Time was ticking and a wicked cross from skipper, Perry Ng, nearly found former Stanley man Offrande Zanzala at the far post but nothing came of it.
The final chance for the Railwaymen courtesy of a quick corner routine, Ainley and Kirk linked up to find Pickering who unleashed an effort towards goal, but his shot flew just over the crossbar.
That real chance never really came for the Alex and they slipped to back-to-back defeats. With Mikael Mandron side lined, it seems the Railwaymen are really missing that additional attacking threat up top.
A welcome break from the league on Saturday, as they travel to Cheltenham Town in the FA Cup. Let’s hope the lads can regain that winning feeling.
Full Time: Accrington Stanley 1 vs 0 Crewe Alexandra
Published: Rhys Pountain