Crewe Alexandra: Angry Steve Davis blows whistle on poor refereeing
CREWE boss Steve Davis slammed referee David Phillips for a “very incompetent” display after he gave a penalty which helped consign the Alex to a 2-0 defeat at Portsmouth.
Wes Thomas headed the hosts in front from a Jon Harley cross after just two minutes when Crewe failed to pick him up the far post.
The Railwaymen went two behind after 17 minutes when Thomas went down under pressure from Andy Bond and Phillips gave what appeared to be a soft spot-kick.
Izale McLeod stepped forward for Pompey and sent Crewe goalkeeper Alan Martin the wrong way.
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Phillips was booed off the field at the end of both halves after giving a string of soft decisions against both sides.
And Davis feels his men could have turned things around after the break, but for the dubiously-awarded penalty.
He said: “It wasn’t a penalty. He (Bond) didn’t touch him for the second goal. I thought he (Thomas) dived. If you watch it, you can see that he dived. There was no contact, so I thought that was a poor decision.
“In fact, I thought the performance of the referee, all three officials really, was very incompetent for both teams.
“He got a lot of decisions wrong and the goals changed the game.
“We could have avoided the first one and the penalty certainly made a difference.
“We could have gone in 1-0 down, even though we hadn’t played particularly well in the first half.
“It would have given us a chance to get back in the game, although you’ve still got half a chance at 2-0.”
Davis’ men created no clear-cut chances, but enjoyed far more possession after the interval.
The Crewe manager was far from happy with his side’s first-half display.
He said: “I had a bit of a go at them at half-time because we didn’t start the game very well, which isn’t like us.
“We got caught out and the lads weren’t mentally prepared for that. I tried to rally them a bit. I wanted them to get out and show the crowd what they could do.
“I thought they did better in the second half and salvaged a bit of pride. But they didn’t create enough opportunities.”
Crewe have scored just 10 goals in 12 League One games this term and Davis admits his side’s shyness in front of goal is a big worry.
He added: “We found a lot more space against Portsmouth. We created one or two decent openings without really having anyone there who we felt would score a goal.
“That’s a problem we’ve got. We’ve had a lot of blanks this season. Because of that, when we go a goal behind, it’s difficult to get back into the game.
“That means we have to defend every week and get clean sheets, so we’ve got to be more of a threat. We’ve got to create more opportunities, which we didn’t do.”
Portsmouth boss Michael Appleton admits it was always going to take time for his makeshift side to hit form after they picked up their third win in four league games.
Appleton has had to sign players on loans and month-long deals to keep his cash-strapped outfit competitive as they will face a 10-point deduction when they finally exit administration.
This has given him a battle to get his side tactically and physically up to the required standard, so he is delighted with their recent league run.
He said: “I’m happy. I said when people were getting excited after a couple of games that it might take until November to see the best of this team.
“We’ve got so much work to do and the players are nowhere near their best at the minute.
“But most importantly, we are picking up results along the way. During the time we work towards playing our best football, hopefully we can keep picking up results.”
Appleton’s heroics on a limited budget have seen him linked with the managerial vacancies at Championship sides Burnley and Bolton.
But the former West Brom coach is keen to focus on his challenge at Fratton Park for now.
Asked if the speculation had been a distraction, he said: “I can’t control what other people around me think – how the fans and players react to it. But I’ve got a tough enough job here to start worrying about other jobs.”
CREWE’S reward for beating Shrewsbury in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy last week is a home Northern Section quarter-final against League One rivals Doncaster Rovers.
The tie is due to take place at Gresty Road during the week beginning December 3.