Negative Lincoln Frustrate Dominant Alex
Crewe failed to take their winning streak to three games as Lincoln came and shut up shop for 90 minutes.
After wins against play-off chasing Burton Albion and Chesterfield in the last couple of weeks hopes were high of a third win on the trot with the visit of struggling Lincoln.
Unfortunately it wasn't to be. Lincoln came with a game plan, one you can only take as a compliment, as they stuck nine men behind the ball and made sure Zola and Donaldson's sight on goal was restricted.
Occasionally they ventured over the half way line before sending a shot sailing over the bar and once forcing Steve Phillips in to a good one footed saved. Surprisingly they just wouldn't really commit themselves against a defence which had conceded 32 goals this season.
So, for much of the game - and the entirety of the second half - it was pretty much all Crewe. The defence were under very little pressure to get the ball out quickly whilst the midfield of Murphy, Walton, Westwood and Grant were allowed time and space to pass the ball around.
It was still going to prove a very frustrating game, with Lincoln sitting deep and crowding the penalty area with defenders there was no room for Donaldson to get in behind them and little chance of the midfield getting a clear shot off from outside the area.
It was pace and a little bit of skill that brought the best chances of the game, one either half for Donaldson and Moore. Donaldson and Brayford teamed up for a 'one-two' on the edge of the area but Donaldson's eventual shot from inside the area smashed off the cross bar.
Second half substitute Byron Moore could have been the hero late on but after his run and cut into the penalty area his shot rolled just a couple of feet wide at the far post.
Despite what seemed like 70% of possession in Crewe's favour chances were few and far between, although by no means did we fail to have a shot on target as the BBC stats suggest.
Whilst you could attribute the lack of chances to Lincoln's ultra-defensive mindset there was also our failure to take advantage of some glorious set pieces handed to us. As well as the eight corners in our favour Lincoln's constant niggly fouls provided us with countless shooting range free kicks.
Besides Westwood's second free kick, which flashed just wide, there was little that came from any other set piece during the game. Rarely beating the first defender; the goal keeper was never trouble by so much as a corner. Whilst Billy Jones has made it clear he wants out of the club you have to wonder if there'd have been a different outcome had he been on the pitch with his set piece speciality?
There were still plenty of positives to be taken out of Saturday. A clean sheet, another match unbeaten, a dominant performance and further signs of improvement.
A win was expected on Saturday morning and you could argue a side with serious promotion ambitions would have put Lincoln away long before half time but it's all part of the learning curve, all part of the Dario revival. Onwards and upwards.