Date:Saturday March 12 2011
Clayton Donaldson`s tame penalty at Macclesfield on Tuesday night was our fifth penalty miss of the season from nine attempts, that`s not including his miss last weekend against Burton before he was allowed a re-take.
The full extent of our misery from 12 yards is clear with the stats from the last two seasons. In sixteen penalties we`ve been awarded, both in league and cup, over the last 18 months we have only scored six. That`s ten penalties missed.
Going back to last season, it all went wrong with Billy Jones dropping out of the team. Jones was the designated taker, he was set piece specialist and netted from the spot early on last season, although he did miss a second against Hereford he converted it on the rebound. However, with Dario stepping back into management he put an end to Jones` Crewe career, leaving penalty taking duties up in the air.
Steven Schumacher was given a go but he set the trend that was to follow, having his only penalty saved at Notts County. Then came Dario`s faith in Shan Miller towards the end of the season and with three penalties in the space of weeks he was put to the test. He missed at Torquay for what could have been an equaliser before his famous netting against Port Vale. However, Miller`s failure to put the Alex 4-1 ahead at Morecambe, a match we went on to lose, was to be his last chance from the spot.
Penalty taker number four for last season was Ashley Westwood who saw his one and only penalty of the season saved in the meaningless home game against Accrington Stanley. However, he did convert it on the rebound to put us 3-1 up as we stormed to a 5-1 victory.
So by last summer it was already apparent our penalty taking was costing us. Arguably, six points were squandered with misses; 4-1 at Morecambe you`d think would have settled the game whilst we still managed to get a point at Torquay despite the missed penalty.
Yet it was just a sign of things to come. Here`s a look at our record over the season taker-by-taker and how they may have cost us.
Bury (H) - Missed at Crewe 3-0 Bury - FT Crewe 3-0 Bury
A non-costly penalty in one of the best performances of the season. We were already 3-0 up when Powell was fouled but Donaldson`s weak effort at the perfect height for the keeper was still disappointing.
Port Vale (A) - Scored at Port Vale 2-0 Crewe - FT Port Vale 2-1 Crewe
It was a couple of months and four penalties later before Donaldson took his second of the season and this was a sweet one for him against Port Vale even if it turned out to be nothing but a consolation. It was a superb penalty too, smashed and nestled into Stuart Tomlinson`s top right corner - if only he took them all like this.
Burton Albion (H) - Scored at Crewe 2-0 Burton Albion - FT Crewe 4-1 Burton Albion
It probably isn`t fair to include Donaldson`s first attempt against Burton Albion. Adam Legzdins left his line early and by quite a distance, but Donaldson will probably feel fortunate a under-used rule was put into place on the day. The penalty that counted however was not spectacular, low and central with the power behind it really the only thing going for it.
Macclesfield (A) - Missed at Macclesfield 1-0 Crewe - FT Macclesfield 1-0 Crewe
Then comes Tuesday`s miss. Following the same trend of his Burton penalty, it was another low hit and not far enough in the corner to put it out of reach, the goalkeeper only had to guess the right way to fall. At 1-0 it was possibly the most costly penalty of the season, you would have expected us to get at least a point from the game had it gone in.
Torquay (H) - Scored at Crewe 2-3 Torquay - FT Crewe 3-3 Torquay
Lee Bell had missed one earlier in the game, putting pressure on Westy for the chance to equalise. Equalise he did with a decent enough penalty, low and hard into the bottom right corner and the keeper going the wrong way.
Southend (A) - Missed at Southend 0-0 Crewe - FT Southend 0-2 Crewe
However, the next week Westy failed to produce the same result from the spot. Stepping up at Southend, Westy smashed the crossbar just like Bell had done a week earlier, the most surprising thing being that he had changed his 'tactic`. At least it counted for nothing.
Northampton (A) - Missed at Northampton 2-1 Crewe - FT Northampton 6-2 Crewe
Westy resumed his penalty taking duties in February and after three months without one, a spot kick at Northampton presented a fantastic chance to equalise just before half time. However, it was possibly one of the worst penalties in this round up. Low, weak and almost central, the keeper simply fell onto the ball without much effort. We could have gone to 2-2 but were soon 6-1 down.
Macclesfield (A - JPT) - Scored at Macclesfield 1-1 Crewe - FT Macclesfield 2-4 Crewe
Bell took over penalty taking duties following Donaldson`s first miss of the season. He got his first chance away at Macclesfield in the Johnstone`s Paint Trophy and produced a decent attempt, smashing it down the middle into the roof of the net.
Torquay (H) - Missed at Crewe 0-2 Torquay - FT Crewe 3-3 Torquay
Stepping up to the spot less than two weeks later, Bell attempted the same penalty - hard, high and straight down the middle. However, this time it was too high and bounced back out off the cross bar. It was Bell`s last penalty of the season and he doesn`t seem too keen to take another.
So there it is, our penalty taking record for the season. This season alone; it`s summed up as four scored, five missed from three different penalty takers and all three have scored and missed.
Looking through that, you`ll see the misses have become more costly as the season has gone on. The Bury penalty mattered very little and thankfully we nabbed a point against Torquay, but could it have been three had Bell scored? Then who knows how the games at Northampton and Macclesfield would have gone if we had got equalisers?
The ones scored on the other hand have had a mixture of success. Donaldson`s at Vale was no more than a consolation whilst against Torquay it was a point winner. The rest helped us on our way to convincing victories.
You cannot expect to score every penalty but not only is the record is quite something for a professional side, only one or two of the above penalties have actually been tucked away with any conviction.
So what`s the problem? Six different players have tried from the spot over the last two seasons and we`ve not yet found 'our penalty taker`. No-one seems capable of producing a decent penalty time after time.
Is it ability or mentality? Is it simply a matter of no 'natural` penalty taker, like Shaun Smith was, or is there just not the right mentality or confidence in the side to step up and score from 12 yards?
I`ve a feeling it isn`t going to be solved with the current squad and until there`s a new signing who can do the job - not that anyone should be signed specifically for penalties - then we`ll most likely quite literally be hit and miss.
Bear in mind though. None of the penalty takers have taken a penalty having missed their last one this season (Donaldson`s retake being an exception) and our penalty form this season?
Missed, scored, missed, scored, missed, scored, missed, scored, missed..........
Date:Saturday March 12 2011
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