Sky Bet League Two

Crawley Town 0

Crewe Alexandra 3

(James Jones, Jordan Bowery, Chris Dagnall)

Attendance: 1,556

Broadfield Stadium

Watching Crewe Alexandra isn’t for the faint hearted. To think I waited nearly two years to watch them win again (albeit I only managed a handful of games in that period).

Either way, Crewe have been relegated three times since my first game back in 2004 and promoted once. Many relegation scraps in between and of course a major trophy in 2013 when we won the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy at Wembley.

But your team is your team and fans are rewarded for their commitment when your team wins against the odds. You are always let down when you lose but beating Portsmouth last week filled me with pride to support my team. All that hard work undone by losing to bottom of the league Newport a week later. But fans, far more committed than me, trek up and down the country to be rewarded by games like tonight and Portsmouth ten days earlier.

Even this season, I haven’t been to many games but managed to see Crewe lose 5-1 away at Wycombe and 4-0 away at Exeter, you get the picture that when I do see them win, it’s an incredible moment.

This was the first time I had watched Crewe win twice in a row since they beat Norton United (4-0) and Nantwich Town (4-1) in pre season friendlies back in July 2014. Funnily enough, the last time I watched Crewe win two league games consecutively was when they beat local rivals Port Vale 3-1 in February 2014 before beating Crawley at the Checkatrade Stadium 2-1 two months later.


The Ground

This was my third trip to the Checkatrade Stadium watching Crewe Alexandra, I mean, why else would I make the trip into West Sussex.

My two previous trips have been relatively successful, winning 2-1 in April 2014 and drawing 1-1 in November 2014.

I went to Fratton Park ten days ago and went with no expectations and came away over the moon. I took the same mentality to Crawley and once again came away with a massive smile on my face.

The Checkatrade Stadium (or Broadfield Stadium) is in its 20th year having been built in 1997. The last development to the ground came before my first visit when the East Stand was redeveloped from an uncovered terrace to a covered seated area, holding over 2,000 seats to ensure the stadium complied with Football League rules. The stand was open on Good Friday 2012, against Crewe.

The corner of the East Stand is where they put the away fans. Crewe in the three visits have never taken much of a following so on all three occasions, the away terracing behind the goal has been closed (this is usually open for teams with a big away following).

The East Stand has annoying support poles spanning the length of the stand, but the unreserved seating means I could plonk myself in a position where the poles caused as little damage as possible.

There are home fans in the rest of the stand but in a crowd of 1,500 in a 6,000 capacity stadium.

Behind one goal is classic standing terrace, asynchronous to many older Football League grounds and a lot of Non League grounds. Opposite the away fans is the main stand. An all seated area with the dugouts placed just in front and the players tunnel.

The ground is neat and if I was a regular I would definitely be over in the main stand with nothing restricting my view, it really does bug me more than I care to admit.

Outside the ground there is a bar that was accessible for both sets of fans and they were pretty organised with ticket huts and a delightful little programme hut with old programmes and pin badges, not that I found anything to buy!

The club shop is somewhat disappointing, In fact I vaguely remember it being a separate building on one of my visits, that separate building seemingly demolished for extra parking I imagine. The club shop is squeezed up the corner of the ticket office with two members of staff for a corner of a room too tight for more than three people (including the staff).

I will mention how easy parking was for the game, I got there with an hour to kill and with signs for free match day parking leading you to some offices behind the ground I parked up and nipped through a little gate, over a footbridge over a brook and you end up in the club car park by the ground, less than a five minute walk. So if you are going by car, get on the offices car park and don’t pay £5 to park in prime distance of any stray balls flying over the stand.

The Game

Crewe eased their relegation fears with a convincing 3-0 victory over fellow League Two strugglers Crawley Town.

The Railwaymen were buoyed after beating high-flying Portsmouth on March 4th but were undone by basement side Newport on Saturday. Three points at Broadfield Stadium puts them ten points clear of the drop and within two points of the Red Devils.

Crewe, in an unusual all-white kit, had an early chance through George Cooper who fired a shot at goal that Glenn Morris managed to save.

Jordan Bowery, still searching for his first goal for the Railwaymen, missed a sitter when Cooper evaded the offside trap and latched onto a long ball from Ollie Turton, back heeled to Chris Dagnall who shuffled the ball across to Bowery who poked wide from eight yards.

Crawley posed little threat upfront as Rhys Murphy sliced well wide from the edge of the box.

Both sides were forced into early substitutions both on 22 minutes as captain George Ray was replaced by Perry Ng and Josh Yorweth replaced Crawley’s Mark Connelly.

On 36 minutes, Dave Artell’s men were awarded a penalty when a ball into the box by James Jones, found its way to Ben Nugent, who stayed up from a corner seconds earlier and he was tripped by Josh Lelan. Jones stepped up from 12 yards and sent Morris (dubbed the spot kick king by Crawley in their programme) the wrong way to give Crewe the lead.

Right on the half time whistle, Ben Garratt did well to deny Murphy who controlled the ball in the box before sending a shot that Garratt palmed out for a corner.

Crewe came out for the second half and gave Crawley no time on the ball, harrying and pressing the Red Devils into mistakes and they doubled the lead on 50 minutes. Yorweth gave the ball away to Callum Cooke just inside Crewe’s half and the Middlesbrough loanee played the ball into Cooper who squared the pass to Bowery to take a touch and slot the ball into the corner for his first goal in a Crewe shirt.

From the restart, Crewe went again and soon won the ball back, this time Cooke played a nice ball into Dagnall who made no mistake calmly side footing the ball into the goal to give Crewe a commanding lead. Two goals in a minute and Crewe in the drivers seat.

Crewe were comfortable and looking like they were going to take the three points and they nearly scored a fourth but the tiring Cooper displayed a heavy touch that took the ball too close to Morris.

Crawley did have a little spell of pressure, winning a handful of corners in quick succession, going close when Yorweth headed towards goal and Murphy couldn’t deflect the ball into the net, putting it out for a goal kick.

Artell made a couple of changes in the final ten minutes, bringing on fresh legs in Alex Kiwomya and Callum Ainley for Cooper and Dagnall to see the game out.

Crawley came close in the dying embers of the game when Murphy exchanged passes with Billy Clifford before curling a shot that cannoned off the crossbar and away.

2016/17 Games: 109

2016/17 Grounds: 60 (9)

Total Grounds Visited: 154 (40)