Crewe Alexandra: Defensive rock Mark Ellis feels at home after clean sheet successes
IN-FORM centre-half Mark Ellis says his two man-of-the-match performances show he has started to settle into his new surroundings at Crewe.
The 24-year-old had been winning plaudits at Torquay United for almost five years before making the 230-mile journey north to South Cheshire during the summer.
It also presented a chance for Ellis to prove himself at League One level, having never played higher than the basement division.
The defender admitted it had been a tough start for him and his Alex team-mates, coming up against the division’s top three in their opening six matches.
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But he feels the side has generally risen to challenge so far, finding particular satisfaction with consecutive clean sheets in the Railwaymen’s last two matches – the 1-0 victory over Coventry and 0-0 draw with Tranmere Rovers.
And he believes his own game should keep improving now he has got himself bedded in to the back four.
He said: “It was a bit of a hectic summer for me, getting married, moving house and signing for a new team and it does take time to settle.
“And if you look at the back five, with the defence and Alan Martin in goal, it is quite different at the moment to how Crewe looked when they did so well last season.
“But you look at the bench with Adam Dugdale and Matt Tootle and you know you have to keep performing at the top level if you want to keep your shirt.
“It only takes a bad game, injury or suspension and someone will come into the team to take your place, so we’re kept on our toes.
“We’ve defended well as a team over the last two games and I was happy to pick up man-of-the-match awards ... even if I think it should have gone to Harry Davis against Tranmere.
“It’s all coming together and the understanding is improving, but we won’t be resting on our laurels.”
Ellis had a reputation with Crewe fans even before he joined the club in June, having scoring twice for Torquay at Gresty Road.
It was a moment he cherished too ... although it won him a ribbing in his new home.
He explained: “We have a players’ court on Friday mornings and I was hauled up a couple of weeks ago for ‘the washbag incident’.
“The boys found a photograph of myself in my cleaning stuff – in a Torquay shirt, playing against Crewe. That earned me a big fine.
“It’s good fun, as long as you’re not on the receiving end, and there’s a great atmosphere at the club. I think supporters can see that when we go out onto the pitch.
“We all enjoy our football and hopefully that can help us go out and win games.”
It helps getting on with your team-mates when you are faced with the two long away trips Crewe must encounter over the next few days.
The 148-mile, three-hour jaunt to Stevenage for today’s game is followed by a 145-mile slog to Carlisle for another League One battle on Tuesday.
“Every away game used to be five or six hours when I was at Torquay,” said Ellis.
“We know Stevenage are a good side, but we go into any game in this division thinking we can get a result.”
The next two matches will stick the new partnership of Ellis and Davis against two of the League One strikers’ union’s wisest old dogs, Patrick Agyemang today and Danny Cadamarteri at Brunton Park.
Ellis said: “It has been quite a tough start to the season in terms of who we’ve played, but it’s been a good experience for us as a team and me individually.
“There are some good forwards in League Two, but there is more quality and a few better players in League One. There are some very good strikers.
“The pace of the game is a little different and you get a bit more time on the ball, as would probably be the case even more as you go up another couple of levels.
“The most important thing for me this season will be to help us keep as many clean sheets as possible.
“Of course I want to chip in with a few goals from set-pieces as I can but the marker for me will always be keeping them out at the other end.”