Crewe Alexandra: Steve Davis backs players to home in on new run after Stevenage bounce back
CREWE manager Steve Davis admitted his players were hurting after Boro bounced back to inflict the Railwaymen’s first League One defeat at Gresty Road since October.
Chuks Aneke looked to have put the Alex on track for their fifth successive home league victory when he swept them in front on the half-hour mark.
But the visitors netted twice in five minutes after the break through Lucas Akins and Marcus Haber to stun Crewe and end Boro’s three-game hunt for a victory.
Davis said: “The players are all down and very quiet, which is brilliant to see.
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“They expect to play games and win now, which is a great change of attitude over a short period of time.
“I was more than happy with the performance. It was good enough to win the game. We just lost control for a short period in the second half which cost us.
“We’ve got a never-say-die attitude at the club and we will work hard and I have confidence we will put it right. There’s more to come from this team.
“Our second half of the season is always stronger, and I believe this team can get better.
“There is nothing in this league. We have shown we are every bit as good as Stevenage and Tranmere, and if we can improve a little then we will go on more winning runs.”
Chances were at a premium before the Alex took the lead.
Luke Murphy drilled a volley from the edge of the box over the bar for Crewe while Boro defender Mark Roberts almost turned a low Mathias Pogba cross into his own net.
At the other end, Mark Ellis fluffed a headed backpass but keeper Steve Phillips raced from his line to beat Haber to the ball and spare his team-mate’s blushes.
The Railwaymen finally made the breakthrough with 33 minutes gone. Pogba cutback for Aneke whose first-time went through the legs of Anthony Grant, which proved enough to leave keeper Steve Arnold unsighted.
The visitors looked for a way back into the game, but Akins curled one shot over the Crewe bar and Ellis did enough to prevent Haber turning in a David Gray cross at the far post.
Boro’s best chance of the half came from a free-kick on the edge of the Crewe penalty box which Greg Tansey was inches from sending whistling into the top corner.
The Alex almost doubled their advantage on the stroke of half-time.
Byron Moore’s cross hit the head of defender Gray, and Arnold had to produce an acrobatic stop to tip the ball over the bar. Lauri Dalla Valle went close with a header from the resultant corner.
The save proved important for the visitors as two goals for Boro in five minutes turned this game on its head.
Akins had threatened with a low shot that Phillips saved, but the forward made no mistake when he pounced on a loose ball flashing around the Crewe box to level 10 minutes after half-time.
The turnaround was complete on the hour mark when Haber raced on to a long ball, brushed off Harry Davis and dispatched a low finish under Phillips.
Suddenly the momentum had swung to the visitors, and James Dunne and Tansey both went close with long-range efforts.
Haber almost extended the lead when he met an Akins cross at the far post, while Ryan Colclough headed wide when he had a great chance to level at the death.
Boro boss Gary Smith said: “I don’t think we have been playing that badly to deserve some of the results that have come our way. We had been getting despondent, so the win is massive for us.
“We made a change and went two up top and we got more energy out of the players.
“There were some terrific performances and we thoroughly deserved the three points.
“We’d got into the final third one two or three occasions and not found the right pass, but when we got the first goal it gave everyone the lift we needed.
“Crewe have a fantastic home record and it was never going to be an easy task, but it was probably the most complete display we have seen from the group in a long while.”