Crewe Topple League Leading Spireites
It's inconsistency in a nutshell. The poor display at Macclesfield Tuesday was swiftly followed by a stomping victory over league leaders Chesterfield yesterday.
The 2-0 win over the Spireites now means we've beaten all of the current top three at Gresty Road without conceding and have scored seven in the process. Yet, we still sit 10th in the league, trailing the play-offs by seven points and dropping silly points at teams who may not even be in the Football League next season.
Yesterday's result was more satisfying than most, not because Chesterfield pretty much have the league in the bag or because it was a desperately needed three points, it was satisfying after seeing our capitulation at the B2Net earlier in the season.
It was hard to swallow 'the most entertaining match of the season' and Chesterfield fans believing it was the greatest 45 minutes they have played. It was pretty apparent to Crewe fans that we should have won that game convincingly and Chesterfield only nabbed a point through our ineptitude.
Yesterday was a matter of getting the three points we should have brought back from Chesterfield and there was no way we were going to let them slip again.
The match was played with October's game firmly in the minds of the two sides. Chesterfield were clearly adamant they weren't going to fall to an early lead again and went about setting a fast tempo for the first ten minutes. You could almost hear Sheridan's team talk echoing - 'don't give them time on the ball' - but whilst they certainly stemmed our possession early on they looked slightly devoid of ideas when it came to breaking the Alex defence.
The game soon settled and it became a good contest without much goalmouth action. Chesterfield`s 21 goal man Craig Davies was being kept at bay by an impressive Adam Dugdale. It`s fair to say that Davies lost out in the battle of the strikers for this game as, whilst Davies was feeding off scraps, Donaldson at the other end was causing all sorts of trouble with his runs.
He fired a warning shot mid-way through the half, cutting inside and his shot deflecting onto the post. Then, 10 minutes from half time, he gave the onlooking scouts one reason why he would be a bargain come the end of his contract at Gresty Road this summer. Cushioning a Miller chipped ball onto his chest, he took three touches to flick it over the final defender, bring it under control and stab it past the keeper. A superb show of control and finishing.
Chesterfield took note and upped their game in search of an equaliser but struggled to really test Rhys Taylor for the remainder of the first half. High crosses were dealt with well by Artell and Dugdale and it was almost a compliment that the only team to score more than ourselves in League Two this season were taking to hopeful long shots in an attempt to break through.
They were clearly one of the best sides we`ve seen at Gresty Road this season. They had the swagger of league leaders and moved the ball about well but you`ve got to wonder just where we should be in this league if that, as their manager puts it, is one of the best away performances from the league leaders.
The second half saw the game shift possession wise in Chesterfield`s favour, chasing the game they had no choice but to throw more at us than they had done in the first half. They nearly got a lucky break when a Bell tackle saw the ball break through to Whittaker but Rhys Taylor did superbly to rush out and get to Whittaker`s feet before he could really pull off a shot.
It was the start of a bit of hectic spell for the Railwaymen. Taylor was called upon to palm away a fierce Davies shot after Blanchett had got the wrong side of him but it was substitute Jack Lester, who came on to a standing ovation from Chesterfield fans, who squandered their best chance.
Whittaker`s sweetly struck 25 yarder looked certain to ripple the back of the net but ended up crashing back off the upright and whilst the ball fell nicely for Lester to rebound past the disorganised Rhys Taylor, he instead fired it high and wide.
At the other end we had a host of corners but we`re struggling to really make them pay despite some decent height and aerial ability from Artell and Dugdale. It is a similar situation for the long throws of Donaldson that Dario has finally taken a liking too, they seem wasteful if our best goalscorer is the one actually lumping them into the box.
The game did look to be heading for a nervy last 5 minutes. After Artell and Dugdale were both yellow carded in the space of minutes for two pretty cynical fouls Dario did play cautious, bringing on the experienced Ashley Westwood in place of Artell.
Meanwhile, the young Westy made way for Danny Shelley, prompting the most disappointing part of the day. A very small group of fans in the Gresty Road End thought it wise to boo Shelley as he made his way on to the pitch. Whilst it was a group of probably no more than 20 fans, it was no nicer to hear and for me one person booing a player in the red and white of CAFC is disgraceful enough. Shelley has done reasonably well this season and is improving massively, but one or two fans will always need a scapegoat possibly due to their inadequacy to understand a simple game of football.
But I wonder what their reaction was on 86 minutes when we were provided with a Shelley Special?
Awarded a free kick 25 yards out, there was always only going to be one choice as taker, even though Lee Bell seemed adamant he should be taking it. Shelley stepped up and hit a 'daisy cutter` firmly into the bottom left corner. How Shelley kept himself from answering back to the boo boys at that point I don`t know.
It put the game to bed, three points were ours and the play-offs are back on. Or are they?