Six Without A Win As Railwaymen Fall At Bury
It is now six without a win for the Alex as February ended as it begun; with defeat as Bury ran out 3-1 winners.
The mood could not be any different to that it was a month ago. From third in the league as the form team in the league, we've now dropped to 12th with just a solitary point in the month of February.
Yesterday's trip to Bury was classed by some fans as a season decider and whilst defeat doesn't mathematically condemn us to another season in League Two, it is hard to see where another push up the league is coming from at the moment.
It doesn't look like Dario sees where the club's next three points is coming from either. The team is being chopped and changed weekly and his most drastic changes arrived yesterday, seeing a ambitious 4-2-4 formation fielded. Miller and Leitch-Smith were flanked by Donaldson and Moore up front in what could only be seen as an attempt to 'outscore' Bury.
The change seemed to make the difference for the first hour. It was a much improved performance on what we saw at Accrington on Tuesday but still lacked the sharpness up front we saw in January. Whilst both teams mounted attacks, neither side were carved open until Miller broke free just moments before half time to slip the ball past the keeper.
Going in ahead was a happy note to end the half on but this is Crewe and you know to take nothing for granted until the final whistle has gone. The defence had stood firm for the first half, as we know they can at times. Ada and Artell dealt with anything that came at them whilst Tootle and Blanchett were getting some good blocks in.
Any neutral who had left at half time could have been forgiven for believing we were quite a solid little side, but a storm was brewing. So it proved, Dario got the madness underway with a strange substitution, replacing a bright Byron Moore with 16 year old Nick Powell, who took his place on the right wing.
Whilst that was certainly not a match losing decision, Bury's substitutions were probably better considered. Kyle Bennett, brother of former Alex loanee Elliott Bennett, and Andy Bishop, a former Crewe transfer target, took to the pitch and within 15 minutes 0-1 was turned into 3-1.
Bennett scored twice in his first eight minutes on the pitch, although much of it down to a crumbling defence. Bennett made the most of being left unmarked as he went about putting Bury into the lead. Pouncing on a loose ball in the area he was fortunate that the unlucky Matt Tootle got in the way of his shot to convert the ball into the back of the net.
Four minutes later, the Crewe defence had still not noticed Bennett was on the pitch and he was allowed acres of space on the edge of the area to fire Bury ahead, though Rhys Taylor's positioning was quite suspect.
Within another 8 minutes the game was done and dusted as Ryan Lowe was allowed his 8th goal in 7 matches. It was all too easy as Lowe and Bishop played a one-two through a crowd of three or four defenders on the edge of the area.
From that point, there was no coming back. A small portion of the 370 Alex fans turned on the team and Dario, unhappy at the lack of subs and unhappy when subs were made. Chants of 'You're not fit to wear the shirt' and 'Dario out' were not really needed neither.
Dario did attempt changes, bringing on Shelley and Sarcevic, and despite getting booed onto the pitch by his own supporters Shelley was to be our only hope of getting back into it but failed to take his chances after getting behind the Bury defence on two occasions.
In the end it just turned into a typical Alex defeat. We showed glimpses of what is required but it is simply not enough and not only are we conceding goals in the bucket loads, goals at the other end are now becoming a problem. What's happened to the same team that stormed up to 3rd place just a month back is really anyone's guess. Is it Dario or just his squad? Time to be patient and let Dario rebuild or were the foundations already in place for a promotion push?
Fans are split and it looks like promotion hopes have gone, is it time for the club to take stock and start planning for the future?