Dismal performance on the road as Gillingham put four past the Crewe.
Crewe Alexandra’s 10 match unbeaten league run came to an end this evening after suffering a 4-1 defeat at the Priestfield Stadium. The game was out of reach at half time as the Railwaymen produced their worst 45 minutes of the season.
The home side were handed a 10th minute penalty after Travis Johnson had felled Jordan Graham and a comedy of errors gifted the Gills two other first half goals. Olly Lee’s touch and finish from Graham’s low cross made it 2-0 after 37 minutes and a third was added in stoppage time.
Lee’s brace on the hour mark ended any hopes of a comeback.
The Alex did reduce the deficit after a surfeit of substitutions. The on-loan Antony Evans created a chance for Chris Porter to add to his tally.
David Artell made one change to his starting XI from Saturday’s 1-1 draw at home to AFC Wimbledon. Rotherham loanee, Billy Jones was replaced by Travis Johnson at full-back. Jones’ limited match action over recent months meant the decision was made on a precautionary basis with an already busy injury room in mind.
Former Gillingham forward, Mikael Mandron was deemed fit enough to travel and so took his place on the bench. Other loan signings, Stephen Walker and Antony Evans were named in the squad of 18.
Vadaine Oliver started up top for Steve Evans’ side.
Crewe almost started the game in the best way possible. From kick off Crewe surged forward with a combination of intricate passes which found Lowery in possession, the skipper squeezed the ball to the feet of Oli Finney but, after getting the ball stuck under his feet he could only strike at Jack Bonham between the sticks.
Against the run of play, the home side were ahead courtesy of a penalty from Jordan Graham after 10 minutes. It was an Alex error that led to the goal after Johnson played a loose pass to Lowery before he was nicked of possession; after the Gills attacker ran at goal, Johnson was adjudged to have pulled Graham down in the area.
The Railwaymen still enjoyed possession but had no drive within their play, a stark contrast to the home side.
Likewise, just before the half hour mark Steve Evans’ side came close to a second as a lofted ball from the centre of the pitch found Kyle Dempsey at the far post, rising highest he headed at goal from close range, but Dave Richards reacted with a smart reaction save.
Meanwhile, at the opposite end the Alex weren’t too far from levelling the scores. Silky one touch football down the left between Charlie Kirk and Finney, who managed to float a searching cross across goal that only needed a touch from Porter but, the veteran couldn’t quite get there.
Moments later and the hosts had made it two. A cross from the right found Olly Lee who cushioned his touch through the legs of Omar Beckles before slotting home past Richards.
Again, the Railwaymen reacted as Owen Dale had half a chance at the far post but after controlling well, his effort was diverted for a corner following a good block from Connor Ogilvie.
The final action of the first half settled the game for the Gills as they capitalised on a mistake at the back right on half time. Beckles’ misplaced pass fell to the feet of Dempsey and despite Lowery’s valued efforts to win back possession, the midfielder got in on goal to slot into the bottom left corner..
Gillingham 3 – 0 Crewe Alexandra
Oliver was cautioned within seconds of the restart for a foul on Lancashire and from an Alex corner, Ryan Wintle let fly from 25-yards, but his effort was easily collected by Bonham.
The Alex really needed to rally together in order to try and get a result from the game and with little to lose, Owen Dale should’ve clawed a goal back for the Reds.
Rio Adebisi got in behind to pull the trigger from a tight angle but his effort was well saved by the Gills stopper, before the ball fell to Owen Dale 10-yards out but he could only blaze over the bar.
It could’ve given the Alex a little light of hope but that was far from reality on the hour mark. A simple long throw routine saw Olly Lee secure his second goal of the evening with a looping header over Richards.
The fourth goal prompted Artell to look to his bench and make a double substitution Stephen Walker and Luke Murphy replaced Dale and Lowery.
It was certainly a night to forget in Kent and it was a matter of reducing the deficit whilst standing strong for the final 30 minutes. Though, you had to credit Gillingham for how they competed and pressed from start to finish and when their chances came, they certainly were clinical.
With just under 20 minutes left to play, Ant Evans made his debut for the club after replacing Wintle.
Barely a minute later and Oliver thought he had made it five but for the linesman, who had raised his flag on the far side. It was another long throw-in routine.
The final 10 minutes was probably the Alex’s most dangerous spell of the game. A driving run from Evans down the left-hand side of the box where he managed to strike across goal for Porter to bundle home. It was nothing more than a consolation.
Just before the goal, Charlie Kirk made way for Regan Griffiths.
It nearly got even better for the Reds as they seemed to show a bit of belief, Finney latched onto a quick throw-in and drove down the right before cutting in and taking aim but again the Gills number one was equal to it.
Evans looked dangerous when he came on and there was still time for him to combine with fellow loanee Walker. Some nice interplay from back to front before he sent Walker down the right, chopping back he returned possession back to Evans whose first-time effort drifted just wide of the left-hand post.
To aggravate the Railwaymen, Steve Evans made three substitutions in the dying embers of the game as Oliver made way for John Akinde, Alex McDonald replaced Graham and Lee made way for Stuart O’Keefe.
With seconds left, Finney let fly but could only fire wide and Johnson picked up a caution for a late challenge.
A dismal performance for Crewe who were 10 games unbeaten before tonight. Who would’ve thought that from tonight’s display?
Full Time: Gillingham 4-1 Crewe Alexandra
Man of the match: N/A