Finney on the scoresheet again to earn the Alex a point
Oli Finney scored his 8th goal of the season and fourth in as many games, but Crewe Alexandra had to make do with a 1-1 draw against an energetic AFC Wimbledon side. A slow start from the Reds meant Glyn Hodges’ side took an early lead and once again Crewe had to show their spirit to come from behind.
The Alex had been busy in mid-week bringing in two new additions to the side. Former Crewe academy product, Billy Jones, has returned to Gresty Road on loan from Rotherham United until the end of the season.
The 33-year-old defender will fulfil the right-back position following the recent departure of Perry Ng and hamstring injuries to potential options in Luke Offord and Donervon Daniels.
Elsewhere, England Youth International Stephen Walker has re-joined the Railwaymen on loan from Middlesbrough until the end of the season. The 20-year-old forward gives Artell strength in attack, as he is blessed with the ability to play wide or through the middle.
Likewise, Artell made two changes to his starting XI which held on for a 3-2 win over Bristol Rovers in midweek. Injuries to both Luke Offord and skipper Harry Pickering meant that Billy Jones was handed his second debut for the club, as well as Rio Adebisi making his first start in League One.
There were changes to the substitutes bench too as Stephen Walker was named and a recall for Eddie Nolan. Mikael Mandron missed out on the squad of 18 as he continues to nurse a knee injury.
Crewe got off to the worst possible start as the Dons took an early lead with barely two minutes on the clock. A cross from the right was lofted to the far post and nodded home by Joe Pigott for the visitors to take an early lead.
With a goal advantage Wimbledon had the wind in their sails and continued press the Alex high, making it awkward for the Reds.
It took 15 minutes for Crewe to get any sight of goal, but the visitors were able to clear their lines. Charlie Kirk released Owen Dale in behind and dropping his shoulder he managed to beat his man before pulling back to Oli Finney on the edge of the box. His strike was deflected on the way through, but Sam Walker was there to make the save.
As the Railwaymen began to grow into the game Artell’s side had a few attacks at the Wimbledon goal, with Finney continuing to be at the heart of the attacks. Though, Glyn Hodges’ side still possessed a sense of danger.
Just after the half hour mark and Crewe were level, with few options in the right-hand corner of the pitch, Lowery squeezed a ball through to Jones on the byline before he crossed to the far post. Evading everyone it rebounded off the woodwork and fell into path of Finney and he was there to place into the roof of the net.
Soon after, the Alex nearly had themselves to blame from an error at the back Olly Lancashire played an easy pass to Richards, but his clearance struck the on rushing Ryan Longman. The ball ricocheted around the box before Crewe cleared for a corner.
Soon, Wimbledon came knocking again courtesy of a fierce effort from Cheye Alexander. The full back found himself in space on the right-hand corner of the box and unleashed towards goal, beating Richards but not the Crossbar
Meanwhile up the opposite end the Alex were inches away from taking the lead into the half time break. Jones again got forward and fed in Kirk down the righthand side of the box, from the byline he drove a low cross across the six-yard area but some last ditch defending nicked the ball off the foot of Porter.
The last action of the half came from the Dons as Longman found himself one-on-one with Ryan Wintle, and with limited options he shot across the face of goal but his effort went whisker wide of the post.
Half Time: Crewe Alexandra 1-1 AFC Wimbledon
Glyn Hodges made a change at the break as Luke O’Neil was replaced by Paul Kalambayi.
Artell’s side had the first half opportunity of the second half. An in-swinging corner from Kirk made its way to the far post to the post but, Omar Beckles couldn’t quite make contact.
Wimbledon lost Kalambayi just minutes after coming on, as the defender hobbled off through injury. Replaced by George Dobson.
Crewe continued to press, looking to take the lead. A corner from the left was met by Jones who climbed highest, but he could only glance his header over the bar. Kirk was involved again soon, after the winger had his volley blocked at the far post following good approach play from Dale and skipper for the day, Tom Lowery.
After a fairly quiet second half between the sticks for Richards, he was soon called into action with just 20 minutes left to play. A free kick from the right touchline was met by Beckles but he could only glance his header behind him requiring the Welshman to make a superb reflex save. He certainly made amends for his mistake leading to the visitor’s opener.
Artell made his first change soon after as captain, Lowery was replaced by Luke Murphy, who took the armband.
Crewe looked the more likely to take all three points, as McLoughlin picked up a caution for a cynical foul on Kirk who looked to be in on goal.
Chris Porter again worked his socks off just as he did on Tuesday evening. He had had a competitive battle with Will Nightingale all afternoon before he was replaced for the fresh legs of Stephen Walker with just over 10 minutes remaining.
Dale had the best chance to win the game with minutes left, as he peeled off at the far post, but his strike is straight at Sam Walker!
That real chance never really came for either side and a point a piece was probably a fair result. That’s 10 games unbeaten for the Alex.
Full Time: Crewe Alexandra 1-1 AFC Wimbledon
Man of the match: Omar Beckles