A tough afternoon at Gresty Road...
Charlie Carter's fifth league goal of the season was not enough for Stevenage as goals for Chris Porter, Charlie Kirk and Ryan Wintle earn David Artell's table-topping side all three points.
Two changes were made to the last Stevenage starting eleven which fell to defeat at home to Crawley two weeks ago, with Paul Digby and Dean Parrett returning to the line-up in place of Tom Soares and the injured Diaguely Dabo. In addition, Ben Kennedy returned to the eighteen after a spell on the side-lines.
As the two teams completed their non-contact Fair Play handshake upon exiting the tunnel, Crewe Alexandra kicked the game off looking the brighter of the two sides. Within five minutes, Paul Farman was already called into action to make a smart double save – first to deny James Jones’ effort from distance, and then to tip over Daniel Powell’s rebound.
Down the other end, Stevenage saw a glimpse of what the bright spark could be going forward in a game where backs were against the wall, with Dan Kemp using his pace and trickery to drive forward towards The Alex defence. His single-mindedness earnt Stevenage their first set-piece of the game, a free-kick from the corner of the opposition’s box. Dan Kemp took, but after Charlie Carter looked to be brought to the ground unfairly, the set-piece came to nothing.
A few moments later, Stevenage came as close as they would in the first half. After some pressure on the hosts’ penalty area, Dan Kemp picked up the ball on the right flank before sending in an inviting, looping ball towards Elliott List at the back post. With his first touch, List took the ball down just yards away from goal, before lifting the ball over goalkeeper Will Jaaskelainen. As Gresty Way held its breath, Luke Offord popped up in the right place at the right time to hook the ball away from goal as it looked destined for the net.
From almost going ahead seconds before, Stevenage then found themselves behind on fifteen minutes. James Jones picked the ball up on the left, before swinging a cross in onto the penalty spot, for Chris Porter to head home via the post.
A minute later, and it was close to getting worse for Alex Revell’s side. Charlie Kirk this time as provider, found Chris Porter in the same postion, but his effort crashed against the cross bar from six yards.
After they got their goal, Crewe had a brief spell of allowing Stevenage to see more of the ball, largely across the Boro back four. Daniel Kemp, Elliott List and Charlie Carter were doing their best to makes things happen for Stevenage, but there was no way through.
As half-time came over the horizon, Crewe upped the ante again and looked for a second before the break. Paul Farman was forced into a smart save at the near post to deny Kirk, before Daniel Powell could only hit the side-netting with the goal at his mercy.
Jake Cassidy limped off five minutes before the break for Craig Mackail-Smith, as the referee blew for the end of the first 45.
Despite a confident restart after the break, Stevenage were still unable to test Jaaskelainen between the Crewe sticks. Ben Kennedy was introduced soon into the action, with the intent of creating the chances for Stevenage to draw level.
Nevertheless, it was Crewe who would score next. Charlie Kirk combined on the edge of the Boro box with a one-two with Ryan Wintle, before powering the ball into the bottom left corner from inside the area. Four minutes later, it was three. Provider turned goalscorer, as Ryan Wintle fired past Paul Farman from 25 yards. Safe to say it was not going to plan in the second period.
Canice Carroll was introduced with twenty minutes to go, as Stevenage attempted to salvage anything from this game. Stevenage did manage to pick themselves up a consolation goal however, as the non-stop Charlie Carter fired home with a lovely finish from the outside of the area.
Carter and co did their best to add cause for concern to the Crewe fans as the game stumbled to an end, however it was not to be as Alex Revell’s men travel back to SG2 empty-handed.
Starting XI: Farman, James-Wildin, Digby, Carter, Parrett, Cassidy, Nugent, Lakin, List, Leesley, Kemp.
Subs: Bastien, Soares, Kennedy, Sonupe, Carroll, Denton, Mackail-Smith.
Attendance: 4263 (126 away)