Date:Sunday January 22 2006
The day began with a sense of hope tinged with a slight degree of expectation following two signings since our 5-1 obliteration at Derby. As I left my house in London at 7 45, wary of the extended journey to Euston as a result of track replacements on the Piccadilly line, I mused over whether we really could win a game after such a dismal run of form. After all, Plymouth were a team of never-really-has-beens like Mickey Evans and dodgy keepers such as Romain Larrieu; surely even we could beat them? By the time I arrived at Euston, I'd reached agreement, with myself!?, that the height and aerial prowess newboy Gareth Taylor, combined with the pace and attacking intent of semi-newboy Jon Otsemobor, would improve our side sufficiently to see us defeat a Plymouth side who were missing their seemingly best player in Akos Buszaky.
I arrived at Crewe following a somewhat tedious train journey involving a broken MP3 player, a train driver who was a little too familiar with the PR system and a book which nearly rescued me from a depressing afternoon by sending me to sleep. I had a couple of things on the agenda once in Crewe before sampling the delights of our very own home fans' bar, which I really should know the name of. The atmosphere has improved in there recently following the improvement in quality of the big screen provided by Crewe ASi.
Three O'Clock came around soon enough, and the early signs were good, especially as Mark Rivers and Chris McCready nowhere to be seen. This positivity increased within a minute when Gareth Taylor was put through on goal, however, he sliced his shot meaning it went almost further away from goal than where he'd started. However, things were soon to deteriorate as we were well and truly shafted by a somewhat tenuous refereeing decision. The Plymouth players were appealing for a corner, ours for a goal kick, but the referee decides the in fact, it was a penalty for an adjuged shirt tug. Paul Wotton rifled home the penalty in a fairly comprehensive manner. The first half was the most absurd and woeful piece of refereeing I've ever seen though in fairness, he had less to do in the second half and subsequently improved. The rest of the first half was fairly even though Crewe had the best of the chances. Both full backs were getting forward well giving us options though when the right ball was delivered, David Vaughan managed to head wide from a central position 6 yards out, though was deemed to be offside anyway. Steve Jones later picked out the perfect cross towards the back post where any target man should be, but instead Taylor was loitering at the edge of the box. In fairness, Taylor had won a good percentage of headers in the first half and though he looked slow and lazy, so far looked better than most of the options available to us.
As the half drew to a close, a blatant push on a Crewe player was deemed to be a free kick, by the linesman following the referee's refusal to give it despite being just 5 yards away. Kenny Lunt proceeded to hit the promising free kick straight into the wall before Plymouth were awarded a free kick of their own. Paul Wotton again struck it, but far less powerfully than his penalty, as it crept in under the body of Turnbull. Turnbull really should have dealt with the free kick and blame must lie with him for that particular goal.
The second half offered little more until around the 70th minute. Plymouth probably were the better side until Luke Rodgers introduction with Elliott Ward excelling at the back. The introduction of Rodgers saw a change in system to a 4-3-3 with a more purposeful Crewe looking relatively dangerous. Luke Rodgers grabbed a goal back for the hosts as he prodded home a Jonah flick on. Plymouth subsequently hit the post in unfortunate style though were truly under pressure from Crewe for the remainder of the game. Unfortunately Crewe could not pick up an equaliser perhaps confirming their fate this season.
There had been anti-Dario chants from part of the Gresty Road End for much of the match though this was met with pro-Gradi chants from larger sections of the Gresty Road End.
My journey back offered some solice. After meeting four Plymouth fans on the way home, including a nice couple of blokes called Damo and Tom (apologies if that's wrong, I know it begins with a T), as well as a lovely apparently non-Scouse!!!! girl from Liverpool called Shelly, who is unlikely to be reading this. The journey home was longer than usual as it was a dry-train, as well as the fact that having got back to London, signal failures on the tube meant an elongated journey home.
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