The Posh get revenge on the Alex
Crewe Alexandra fell to a 2-0 defeat on the road as two first half Peterborough United goals settle the tie at the break. Lapses of concentration were to blame for the Alex despite a promising opening 25 minutes.
Sammie Szmodics opened the scoring on 25 minutes, before turning provider for the second just six minutes later as Jonson Clarke-Harris tapped home.
Peterborough created the better of the chances and were certainly more clinical in the final third, as for the Alex they enjoyed some lengthy periods of possession, but couldn’t quite create that spark they needed.
Crewe were once again infuriated in the opening stages of the second half as Frankie Kent was only cautioned for his out of control lunge on Luke Murphy. A tackle that would certainly be categorised under ‘serious foul play’ in the IFAB (International Football Association Board) laws of the game.
David Artell handed the on-loan Antony Evans his first start in an Alex shirt as he came in for Oli Finney, after he suffered a fractured leg against Shrewsbury Town in midweek.
Elsewhere, the experienced Billy Jones returned at right-back in replace of Travis Johnson. Deadline day loan signing, Nathan Wood, was named in the squad of 18 alongside his Middlesborough team mate Stephen Walker in what was a strong bench for the Reds.
The fixture was certainly open to a fine afternoon of football as both sides are certainly two of the most attractive passing sides in the division. Though, that was soon halted after a heavy spell of rain over night meant the Weston Homes Stadium playing surface was on par with a Sunday league pitch.
A compact and solidified Crewe defence made it tough for the host’s to create anything behind the Alex backline and therefore the Railwaymen were happy let Darren Ferguson’s side maintain possession in front of them for the opening stages of the game.
Though, 15 minutes in and the home side managed to conjure up their first opportunity. Joe Ward found space in behind and his dangerous looking cross from the left couldn’t quite be met by Clarke-Harris. It would’ve only required a touch to open the scores.
Meanwhile, at the other end Crewe created their best move of the afternoon. Evans and Jones combined down the right and the full-backs deep cross was attacked by Owen Dale, but his effort was blocked for a corner.
The game began to open up and it was the Posh who surged towards goal in a 3v3 situation. Ward was once again at the forefront of the attack before switching play to Clarke-Harris, but his driven effort was easily collected by Dave Richards.
Soon after, Clarke-Harris came close again as he met full back, Dan Butler’s cross, but the 26-year-old striker could only divert his header just wide of the post.
The Reds continued to pose a threat when moving forward with some neat passages of play in the final third, but the opportunities created weren’t as clear cut as Peterborough’s.
A lack of concentration on 25 minutes saw the hosts in front. A loose ball in centre field was picked up and found its way through to Siriki Dembele. The talisman squeezed his pass through to Szmodics down the left side of the penalty area before he guided his effort into the far corner.
Six minutes later, a similar move saw Szmodics ghost in behind Jones and roll the ball across goal for Clarke-Harris to tap home. The Alex appealed for offside but the linesman kept his flag by his side.
With a two goal advantage in favour of Ferguson’s side, the Reds were needing that half time whistle to be blown as they looked to regroup. before that Jack Taylor was the first name into the referee’s notebook.
Half Time: Peterborough United 2 – 0 Crewe Alexandra
The second half opened with a dangerous challenge on experienced midfielder Luke Murphy by Frankie Kent. But, it was the experience of Murphy that enabled him to anticipate the challenge and adjust his body to move away from the challenge. A tackle that should have resulted in a sending off, but referee Carl Boyeson only deemed it yellow card offence.
With just under an hour played and Crewe needing the next goal to salvage anything from the game, Artell turned to his bench. A triple substitution from the gaffer saw Mandron, Evans and Powell make way for Porter, Lowery and Walker.
Walker was immediately involved in the action as he crossed a pinpoint ball into the path of Dale at the far post but his header drifted past the far corner.
Ferguson made his first changes of the afternoon with 20 minutes left to play, as Ward and Reece Brown were replaced by Niall Mason and Ethan Hamilton. Just before these changes Dembele was cautioned for delaying the restart of play.
The London Road side had to make their third change almost immediately after as Idris Kanu replaced Kent through injury.
The home side could have well and truly put the game to bed in the final 15 minutes, Dembele found himself one-v-one with Richards by the number 10 blazed his effort wide. It was certainly a chance that he would usually put away.
That was his final involvement before being replaced by Mo Eisa.
Despite Crewe continuing to create opportunities, it was Peterborough who had the better of the late chances. Eisa coming close but Richards was equal to the effort and Szmodics was denied a late brace as some superb defending from Pickering kept the score at 2-0.
Full Time: Peterborough United 2 – 0 Crewe Alexandra