Davis Tastes Defeat At Bradford
Steve Davis succumbed to his first league defeat as Crewe Alex manager with a rather lacklustre performance at Valley Parade on Saturday.
Heading into the game on the back of a four game unbeaten run and a decent 10-man draw against league leaders Crawley, there was expectation amongst the 355 strong Alex following at Bradford yesterday.
That expectation was never realised however and it was almost immediately evident it was to be a bad day at the office. An opening goal inside two minutes summed up our day.
A long ball into the box seemed to be a piece of routine defending for Artell but his header ricocheted off Bradford's Wells and left Steve Phillips stranded as it snuck in at the far corner.
Some say luck evens itself out but it didn't prove to be the case yesterday. Almost immediately after, Carl Martin's over hit free kick into the box caught everyone out but, instead of sneaking in, came back out off the post.
It's fair to say though the game was not won or lost on luck, by the end of the first half we were holding on quite a bit. Steve Phillips was called on to make a superb point blank save whilst the woodwork finally worked in our favour moments before half time.
The Alex came out in the second half with a bit more purpose, even if with little more to show for it. The strike force of Wes Fletcher and Max Clayton seemed as uninspiring a strike force as we've had in a couple of years.
The blame doesn't lie solely at the feet of the strikers, the midfield was also struggling to make their mark on the game and ultimately left the front two isolated.
As seems to be the case in recent weeks, our best opportunities were coming from the flanks in Byron Moore and Nick Powell. Whilst Moore wasn't finding the freedom he had during his last visit to Valley Parade, Powell was once again in the thick of it.
And Powell's involvement will no doubt divide opinion amongst Alex fans. After a sublime bit of skill saw him beat his two markers for the afternoon, Powell tumbled in the box. The ref, who had a clear view, immediately gave a penalty even if most Alex fans - right behind the incident - still had to be convinced if it was truly a foul.
As Lee Bell lined up the penalty - which he once again blasted against the cross bar - Nick Powell more than happy to stoke some pretty riled Bradford City supporters and players. Immaturity or good natured banter, it's not the first time Powell has upset the opposition and will no doubt be the last time.
Meanwhile, with the penalty missed & Bradford fans riled, a flat Alex performance fell even flatter and Bradford were soon on their way to a flattering scoreline with a double from former Alex transfer target Hanson.
You could argue there were debatable decisions in the lead up to both goals but then I'd be lying if I said I got a clear view of either. Both looked like Crewe Alex defending of old and capped off a pretty miserable match.
Steve Davis now has a few days to take in what was a [now] out of character performance. Energy levels seemed down, defending seemed more than a little edgy, the midfield was out fought and the attack was redundant.
Did the players just go a little far with the christmas dinner and box of Celebrations? I hope so.