3 March 2020
Exeter City v Crewe Alexandra
Exeter City’s excellent home record remains in tact after they drew 1-1 with Crewe Alexandra in a top three clash at St James Park.
by Craig Bratt
Tom Parkes opened the scoring for the Grecians in the first half, but they were pegged back by Michael Nottingham’s effort after the break in a game where both sides showed why they were in the upper echelons of the Sky Bet League Two table.
City boss Matt Taylor made three changes to the side that drew with Crawley on Saturday night, bringing Archie Collins back in to captain the team alongside Lee Martin and Tom Parkes, while Nicky Ajose, Dean Moxey and Jake Taylor dropped to the bench. Crewe sprung a surprise with their line up, leaving leading marksman Charlie Kirk out of the starting XI.
Such were the stakes in this top of the table clash, the game began with high intensity from the home side, who peppered Crewe with some early balls into the box. Brennan Dickenson did well to beat Perry Ng on the edge of the area before testing the visiting defence with a powerful cross.
With their first attack of the game Crewe had the ball in the back of the net, but the offside flag denied the second-placed side the opening goal of the game after Paul Green fired home.
This only piqued Crewe’s hunger though and they improved after this, with Ryan Wintle’s swinging effort just millimeters from a touch inside the City six yard box.
That was a let off for City, who capitalised on Alexandra’s missed chances by opening the scoring themselves just after the half hour mark. Lee Martin did well to win a corner, with the ever productive Nicky Law providing the assist as Tom Parkes swept the no.8’s set-piece into the back of the net with aplomb.
That roused the SJP faithful and City responded with another blistering attack, but this time Ng and his defensive colleagues did well to cut out the danger from Lee Martin. Randell Williams then came close to doubling the lead as he flicked a corner towards goal, but goalkeeper Will Jaaskelainen was equal to it.
The Railwaymen were quick out the traps in the second half and piled on the pressure early on. After good work on the left from Daniel Powell, he switched the play to the right for Stephen Walker, who forced Lewis Ward into a good save at his near post.
However, City were still causing Alex problems and had Ryan Bowman connected better on the half volley it would surely have been 2-0. Up the other end, Crewe came back at the Grecians but Law did well to quell the danger. It was now an end-to-end contest that showed little signs of letting up.
Taylor’s men were made to pay for that miss when Crewe equalised in the 61st minute. It was Ng who fired the ball across he face of goal before Michael Nottingham flicked in to level to scores.
This left the game finely balanced and it was a game that was full of action at both ends. Crewe were finding space in all the right areas but Aaron Martin was more often than not in the right place at the right time to kill the danger.
Back with City and they were reacting to the purring Big Bank as they pushed for a second goal. Archie Collins raced clear down the right hand side looking for Bowman in the middle, but his ball had just too much on it for the striker, whose outstretched boot couldn’t connect.
As the game entered the final ten minutes, Crewe threw on Kirk while City threw the kitchen sink at their opponents as they looked for that elusive second goal. Bowman came close with a vicious drive inside the area, but from a tight angle he blazed over the bar.
Jaaskelainen was then on hand to deny Collins’ pile driver with a fingertip save as City’s final chance to win the game went begging.
Exeter City: Ward, Sweeney, Atangana, A Martin, L Martin (Taylor), Law, Williams, Bowman, Parkes, Dickenson, Collins.
Subs not used: Thompson, Ajose, Jay, Fisher, Richardson, Moxey.
Booked: L Martin
Crewe Alexandra: Jaaskelainen, Ng, Pickering, Wintle, Powell, Jones, Porter (Anene), Green, Offord, Nottingham (Hunt), Walker (Kirk).
Subs not used: Richards, Ainley, Finney, Lowery.
Attendance: 4,221 (157 away)