Crewe Alexandra: Chuks Aneke didn't deserve to be sent off, says boss Steve Davis
CREWE boss Steve Davis admitted to feeling a sense of injustice after loanee Chuks Aneke was dismissed on his full debut and Stevenage came from two behind to grab a draw.
Davis' troops appeared to be handing Stevenage their first league defeat of the season after an opening 10 minutes which saw Ajay Leitch-Smith net twice in quick succession.
However, Boro had other ideas and pulled one back before the break through Luke Freeman before Aneke, on loan from Arsenal, was dismissed for a lunge on Anthony Grant in the 73rd minute.
Less than 10 minutes later substitute Robin Shroot pounced to fire home the equaliser.
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However Davis wasn't angry with Aneke and revealed he will be appealing the decision.
"Stevenage only really came into the game when Chuks got sent off. I felt it was a slip rather than going in two-footed," said Davis.
"So we will have a look at that and see if we can appeal it and get it rescinded. I didn't think it was malicious.
"I thought it was a really good spectacle from a neutral's point of view; two good teams really going at it. We obviously got a fantastic start which set us on our way.
"But then we sat back a little bit and looked content with what we had when perhaps we should have taken the game to them in that early period when they were vulnerable."
Crewe hit the front with after just six minutes as Leitch-Smith stole a march on his marker at the far post to meet a low cross and fire high into the roof of the net.
It was Leitch-Smith who made it two little more than a minute later, racing clear of Boro's back four to finish emphatically across keeper Chris Day.
Stevenage reduced the arrears when Freeman smashed home a vicious 25-yard drive while Shroot made Aneke pay in the 81st minute, collecting on the turn and firing past the stricken Alan Martin.
Much like the whole team, Davis wants Leitch-Smith to compete for the full 90 minutes and not make brief cameos – adamant he is more than capable of doing so.
"They were two great strikes from Ajay. We all know what he can do with his finishing, there are few better at the football club," added Davis.
"I just wish he could keep going for 90 minutes. He had a fantastic start, but couldn't really keep that up in the second half. So his challenge is to be a threat from the first whistle to the last.
"After the first 20 minutes I don't think there was a great deal to choose between the sides. They came out a bit in the second half and had a go.
"But once we had weathered that I felt we looked the more threatening, particularly on the break. Up until that point I thought we were going to get the third goal and win the game.
"We competed for the second ball very well and our two centre-halves were immense once again. We didn't look like we were going to concede that second goal."
The draw was Stevenage's third from three home games in the league this season and boss Gary Smith insists that isn't good enough for a club targeting promotion.
"It's difficult to take, but in the circumstances it's something we have to accept and seeing as we were coming from behind we were asking an awful lot to win the game," said Smith.
"The first few minutes – when the second goal goes in – is just a mad few minutes. Unfortunately we are finding it really difficult to get into our stride.
"Crewe started the game particularly well. You have to give them enormous credit for how they have started the game away from home, but we gave ourselves a mountain to climb.
"It has happened on multiple occasions now. If we can somehow navigate those opening periods you can see there's an awful lot to be excited about.
"We did ever so well to get back in the game and I felt for long spells we dominated. We forced the issue with some really good openings and but for some poor decision making we might have won."