Wingers at the double as the Alex make it back-to-back 2-1 wins.
Crewe Alexandra’s wide men, Charlie Kirk and Owen Dale, scored first half goals to take all three points against the Pilgrims last night. Midfielder, Tom Lowery was instrumental on the night providing both assists to unlock the Plymouth defence.
Argyle substitute, Luke Jephcott, pulled a goal back with five minutes remaining, making it a nervy final few minutes for the Reds. Despite Will Jaaskelainen having much to do on the night, the Alex deservedly held on for the win to make it 10 points out of 12.
David Artell named an unchanged starting XI from Saturdays win over Northampton Town. With Perry Ng still serving his suspension, versatile Luke Offord once again moved across to right-back.
Chris Porter returned to the substitutes bench after missing Saturday’s 2-1 win due to personal reasons. Replacing Offrande Zanzala in the 18-man squad.
🚨 𝐓𝐄𝐀𝐌 𝐍𝐄𝐖𝐒 🚨
— Crewe Alexandra (@crewealexfc) December 15, 2020
Former player, Ryan Lowe, named former Alex wide men, Byron Moore and George Cooper in his starting XI. Former loanee, Connor Grant was named on the bench.
Playing in front of the fans for the second time in four days, the Alex quickly returned to where they left off. Fluid football from back to front, meant the Reds were on the front foot from the start.
Oli Finney forced Plymouth goalkeeper, Mike Cooper into an early save. Kirk found the feet of Finney just inside the area, before his fierce effort had to be pushed over by the Argyle stopper.
Crewe were superb in the early knockings and after Kirk and Ryan Wintle linked up, there were strong appeals for a penalty from the Reds. As Wintle appeared to be fouled following a return ball from Kirk. Though referee, Scott Oldham, waved away appeals.
Lively winger Owen Dale troubled the Plymouth defence all evening which meant Tyrese Fornah was cautioned after 15 minutes. The trickery and directness led to Fornah pulling the winger down as he threatened to go in behind.
To no surprise, the Railwaymen opened the scoring on 22 minutes following a superbly crafted goal. Dale again continued to cause havoc for the Plymouth defence before his cross-field pass found Kirk and after an audacious return ball from Tom Lowery, Kirk was able to touch it past Cooper.
On the half hour mark, Lowery’s vision once again picked out a wonderful pass to Kirk on the wing, who quickly fed in Finney, but his effort whistled just wide of the far post.
The visitors didn’t register a shot on target in the first half and the Alex’s defensive shape was excellent. The partnership of Omar Beckles and Olly Lancashire kept the robust Frank Nouble from having a sniff at goal all game.
A second goal was needed after such a dominant first half display and it fittingly arrived three minutes before the break. Lowery once again turned provider after some neat feet to manoeuvre his way away from Fornah before he released Dale down the right. The in-form winger again left Kelland Watts stranded and after making his way into the box, his deflected effort found its way into the far corner.
Half Time: Crewe Alexandra 2-0 Plymouth Argyle
At the break, it was no astonishment that Lowe made a shift of formation as well as looking to his bench. Watts and Fornah made way for Luke Jephcott and Lewis Macleod, with the away side switching to a 3-5-2 formation.
The tactical changes certainly made a difference to the game as they began to have more of the ball, but Jaaskelainen continued to be a spectator.
Beckles and Lancashire’s solidity at the back meant that Nouble made way for Ryan Hardie after 64 minutes.
Crewe had to play their football in order to open up any real opportunities but, this was no problem for the Reds as they continued to open up both wings.
Jaaskelainen was forced into his first save of the evening after Hardie tried his luck from distance. The Alex stopper parried the effort away before gathering possession at the second attempt.
The Pilgrims made their final changes with 15 minutes remaining as Connor Grant and Joe Edwards replaced Danny Mayor and Byron Moore.
Finney again forced Cooper into a remarkable save to tip over. Meanwhile, he found Kirk twice in the penalty area, but the selfless winger tried the return ball rather than going alone.
Dale received a standing ovation when he was replaced by Daniel Powell.
The visitors got a goal back late on giving them hope for an equaliser. Jephcott touched home a cross from Niall Canavan. A disappointing goal to concede for the Alex who stood strong until this moment, as they tried to get their first clean sheet in eight games.
Workhorse, Mikael Mandron made way for Porter with minutes remaining.
The Devonshire side had one half opportunity for an equaliser with minutes to spare, but Scott Wooton could only shoot wide. It would have been a robbery if the Alex had conceded late on, but the Reds were able to maintain their unbeaten run.
Full Time: Crewe Alexandra 2-1 Plymouth Argyle