Crewe 1-4 Colchester Doesn't Tell The Whole Story
Fans were told not to expect too much too soon by new manager Steve Davis but the Alex's performance in the First Round of the FA Cup on Saturday will still have raised a few smiles amongst Alex fans.
There was little change in personnel on the pitch, Shaun Miller was the only one forced out through injury, but this was a blood and thunder performance from the Railwaymen. Any thoughts that Dario was still ready to tinker in the Steve Davis reign were put to bed. There will be no Fair Play Award if this is the standard we're to expect.
Despite only being manager for a couple of days, Davis has stamped his mark quick. The little changes were most evident; the pre-kick-off huddle and the 'quick fire warm ups' on the cones as the team came out before each half were previously things Dario would rubbish as 'putting on a show'.
Whether a quick trot over some cones actually prepares the players any better is not the issue, it was a clear statement from management to fans that they are ready for the fight of League Two.
It's a shame then that the scoreline could not do the effort and performance justice. For those who weren't in attendance, 1-4 will just scream as another thrashing for a declining Crewe Alex.
Far from it, Colchester will undoubtedly feel fortunate that the scoreline was in the end so comfortable, they were a side who for much of the first half were on the back foot. Every player in red hurried and harried the opposition, forcing mistakes, uncertainness and some tempers to flair.
The Alex players were clearly enjoying the freedom of getting stuck in, an excuse to get the frustrations of the last few months out of them, even if it meant throwing opposition players over the advertising hoardings.
It was though possibly the reason, even fault, behind the defining point of the game. After deservedly taking the lead on the 20 minute mark from a superb Byron Moore break from a Colchester corner, red mist and over-excitement descended.
Ashley Westwood lunged into a tackle on the half way line with both feet off the floor, the referee couldn't get the red card from his pocket quick enough. It was a fair decision from the ref and a silly tackle from Westy but not one to dwell over.
We know as Crewe fans there wouldn't have been a hint of malice, it was a product of the circumstances and perhaps it was down to Davis to reel in the players tempers as they began to flair. Refreshingly though (depending on your view point), going from his post match interview, Davis has no intention of doing of doing so.
The red card did turn the game on its head but not in the way the 1-4 scoreline suggested. The players gave everything to try and hold on to the 1-0 lead and continued to try and take the game to Colchester as much as they could whilst a man down.
It was a bit too much to ask in the end. Colchester equalised on the hour mark with a stunning 30 yard effort in off the crossbar. As they pressured for a winner energy was sapped and performed levels waned. The second eventually came from a series of successive Colchester corners which weren`t dealt with properly.
The last 15 minutes or so saw Davis stick three up front and go for broke. Ultimately it allowed Colchester easy pickings for a third and fourth in the dying moments, giving the score an unfair reflection on the game.
It was a Alex performance that without the sending off would have seen us get something from the game - or at least run Colchester damn close. It`s an odd thing to say after a 1-4 defeat but we can certainly take a lot more positives than negatives from the game.
It`s a shame that a moment of silliness ruined what could have been a great opener for Davis but regardless of the result, fans still seemed lifted. The performance was the most important aspect anyway. There were no points on offer and the FA Cup shouldn`t really be high on our priorities at the moment, it allowed Davis to give the players and fans a taster of "his way".
There is a definite excitement at what Davis can now bring to the table. His demand for greater work ethic and "tenacity" from players is something some fans have been begging for for years. He is also close to fixing two major issues within the team; the lack of a target man and the lack of a left back.
Based on the first half on Saturday, results on the pitch could soon be following (so long as we keep 11 players on the pitch).