Finney finds the net again as the Alex pick up a well deserved point on their travels.
A clear and obvious error from the referee meant that the Alex had to settle for a 1-1 draw at Plymouth Argyle’s Home Park. David Artell took charge of his 200th game as manager of Crewe Alexandra but wouldn’t have cared after his side fought back from an unconvincing penalty decision early on.
The home side took an early lead in the game after former midfielder, Connor Grant, threw himself to the floor under a so called ‘challenge’ from Luke Offord. Luke Jephcott stepped up to convert the penalty. A decision that VAR would have deemed a ‘clear and obvious error’ from the officials.
A revitalised second half performance from the Alex saw Oli Finney pick up his seventh goal of the campaign. After a well worked move, Mikael Mandron found the in-form Finney to level the scores.
A fairly even encounter with both teams having chances at either end but, the Railwaymen looked the favourite to take all three points in the second half.
Artell made a few changes to his match day squad Goalkeeper, Dave Richards, was named in the starting XI replacing Will Jaaskelainen between the sticks. The Welshman was certainly the man to thank after some superb saves throughout the 90 minutes.
Defender Olly Lancashire also returned to the starting line-up to restore his partnership with Omar Beckles across the Alex back-line. Luke Offord again showed his versatility and moved across to the right-back position with Travis Johnson dropping back to the substitutes bench.
Club captain, Perry Ng travelled with the squad but wasn’t included in the matchday 18 after serving his six-match suspension for the FA Cup incident at Cheltenham. The skipper has been linked with a move away from Gresty Road in the last few days; assistant manager Kenny Lunt, said:
“There’s been a lot of speculation… and he’s not in the right frame of mind to play.”
Though, Crewe were boosted by the return of Tom Lowery after he passed fit to take his position on the bench but, Daniel Powell was left out whilst he nurses a slight knee injury.
Ryan Lowe named former Crewe loanee, Connor Grant, in his starting line-up and winger Byron Moore on the bench.
The first chance came in favour of Argyle via the penalty spot.
The Pilgrims were handed a penalty after just 10 minutes. Collecting the ball, Grant easily drifted away from Luke Murphy and with limited options, he threw himself to the ground under a challenge from Offord. The Alex players were infuriated with the decision from referee, Charles Breakspear as Grant clearly played for the foul.
Striker, Luke Jephcott, converted the spot kick sending Richards the wrong way to give Ryan Lowe’s side an early lead.
Crewe were rather lackadaisical in their play and not really pressurising the Argyle defence. It took 18 minutes for the Alex to resurrect a half chance as a combination of passes allowed Murphy to strike from range but, his effort sailed wide of Michael Cooper’s post.
Just before the half hour mark came Crewe’s best opportunity of the game, the left sided duo of Charlie Kirk and Harry Pickering combined before Kirk slipped Finney in behind. A tame effort from close range allowed Cooper to collect. It was certainly a chance that the in-form attacker would love to have again.
At the other end, Richards was certainly proving himself, pulling off some quite remarkable saves. Jephcott managed to peel away from Lancashire and unleash an effort at goal but, Richards was equal to it.
Moments later, he was at it again to make a solid stop from a fierce Grant effort. One that would have certainly stung the Welshman’s palms but at the same time boost his confidence.
Half Time: Plymouth Argyle 1-0 Crewe Alexandra
Plymouth once again got the first real opportunity of the second half, as Danny Mayor fired across goal. A cross that only needed a touch for the home side to have taken a two-goal lead, but nobody was there to touch home.
Almost immediately, down the other end Mandron escaped his marker before striking straight at Cooper. Under pressure from the retreating Jerome Opoku, the Frenchman couldn’t quite generate the power he needed to trouble Cooper.
Persistent infringements from Joe Edwards and Opoku meant their names were noted in the referee’s notebook.
This break in play allowed Artell to introduce the magic of Tom Lowery on the hour. Replacing Murphy in midfield.
The introduction of Lowery certainly energised the Alex attack as they pushed for the equaliser.
On 65 minutes, the equaliser arrived courtesy of Finney. A neat move from back to front as Wintle picked up possession before picking out Mandron with his back to goal and after swivelling away from his man, he slipped a cute pass through to the onrushing Finney who coolly slotted into the corner with the outside of his foot.
Ryan Lowe responded by making his first change of the game. Frank Nouble replaced Ryan Hardie in attack.
Nothing much came from the final stages apart from a flurry of bookable offenses. Danny Mayor and Panutche Camara were cautioned for the home side, as well as Offord for the Alex.
10 minutes remaining and Artell introduced veteran striker, Chris Porter, in replace of Mandron.
Despite Crewe looking the favourite to clinch the three points, Richards was once again called into action as Camara shot from just outside the penalty area but, the Welshman was able to push away to keep the scores level.
Ryan Lowe recognised the Alex pressure and introduced the fresh legs of Dom Telford in replace of Jephcott.
To Lowe’s anger he saw his side reduced to 10-men with minutes left, as Camara picked up his second yellow card for a cynical trip on Owen Dale. Though, the home side held out for a point.
That’s eight unbeaten for the Alex as they welcome Bristol Rovers to the Alexandra Stadium on Tuesday evening.
Full Time: Plymouth Argyle 1-1 Crewe Alexandra
Man of the match: Dave Richards (Goalkeeper)