Crewe Alexandra v Newport County

Saturday 12th January 2019   k.o 3:00pm

Sky Bet Football League Two

 

Report from Mark Vickery at Gresty Road

 

Crewe Alexandra 3 (Bowery 34, Porter 88 pen, Ainley 90+2 )

Newport County 2 (Semenyo 65, Amond 76)

 

Attendance: 3,104

 

Form:

Newport County        WdLLWLLdLW

Crewe Alexandra      WLWLLLWWLD

 

 

Late lapses undermines all the hard work

 

 

PRE-MATCH THOUGHTS
County need to put their Cup exploits to the back of their mind. Crewe have a decent home record so important they contain them and take chances on offer.

CONDITIONS
Mild, cloudy dry and keen breeze. Pitch in good condition for January

SUMMING UP OUR PERFORMANCE IN ONE STATEMENT
Passive first half and despite upping game second half poor defending proved costly.

TURNING POINT
Semenyo substitution late on worked against County.

THE MATCH
County made just the one change from the absorbing FA Cup win over Leicester with Dan Butler returning after suspension to replace Vashon Neufville who had to be content with a place on the bench. Crewe made a positive start looking to test County out wide with Kirk carrying his runs left side and Bowery on the right channel in support of Porter. Crewe employed a 4-3-3 formation they had used effectively to beat league leaders Lincoln and County were forced deep in the early stages. County mirrored the Crewe 4-3-3 with Semenyo and Amond supporting Matt up front. On 5 minutes, Matt went on a solo run bursting through the middle but his low shot from 20 yards untroubled Crewe keeper Garratt. County were given a warning on 12 minutes when they stood off a Crewe move right side with Ainley drifting out wide and his low cross into the six yard box was stabbed over the bar by Porter. County made efforts to play direct with the wind in their faces but with the ball holding back Crewe were quick to stifle the ball with Ray and Hunt dominating the aerial duals. Crewe were the more decisive outfit playing some direct low pass for Porter who dropped off into a hole down the middle at every opportunity. County were slow to anticipate and Crewe went close on 20 minutes with Porter snapped a quick pass down the middle and caressed a pass for Bowery but his low shot from 20 yards was held well by Day. County made efforts to pick holes on the break but their lack of urgency and untidy passing meant the ball kept coming back and they were vulnerable when they lost possession cheaply. Crewe continued to dictate the game with some slick passing across the pitch and County sat deep on times struggling to cope with the energy on offer by the hosts. County did find some gaps in the middle of the pitch but their alertness was poor allowing Crewe off the hook. Crewe continued to add to their corner count working the ball into the corners with ease but County dealt with the set pieces. On 33 minutes, County created a decent chance from a move left side which Semenyo orchestrated holding the ball up and brushing off a challenge from Ng. He picked out the overlapping run from Butler left channel and his deep cross was anticipated well by Amond back post but his looping header dropped just over the bar. County continued to switch off in midfield and were punished losing ball cheaply right side with Ainley picking the pocket of Willmott. He slipped a quick pass into Porter who was allowed too much time to turn and slip a quick pass in behind for Bowery who struck a low into the left corner beyond Day. County immediately went on the offensive after being distinctly off colour for much of the first half. On 36 minutes, an opportunity came from a forceful run right side by Willmott and his whipped cross flashed deep but Semenyo read well but his snapshot from 12 yards was well blocked by Ray. Crewe continued to force the issue from the flanks and another bright run right side by Ainley caught County ball watching as he tricked his way to the by line. His deft cross into the six yard area found Bowery but his stretching header was well claimed out of the air by Day. Crewe continued to assert their slick passing game much better as half time approached and may have had added to their lead with shots from the edge of the area by Jones and Porter just off target.

It was a surprise no change was forthcoming by County at half time and the pattern of the game remained broadly similar with Crewe stifling play and quick in transition to get forward. County were charged by some frustrating calls against them on times with Crewe right back Ng buying some fouls from the impressionable referee. County made a much needed change on 58 minutes to freshen up their midfield with Bakinson replacing Dolan. On 60 minutes, Ng went on forceful run right side with County again showing a reluctance to put an honest tackle. From the right side of the area, his snapshot was well parried by Day with little protection in front of him. County picked up their game with Bakinson having an influence on the game in middle and carrying some strong runs box to box. On 63 minutes, County were close to an equaliser when they worked a low move left channel with Bennett finding Butler who dinked a decent cross and the ball sat up uncomfortably. Matt did well to direct a header into the six yard box but Amond was unable get a clean connection on his shot on the turn. County were back in the game on 65 minutes from an excellent move from left to right which stretched Crewe about and Bakinson did well to thread a pass into Semenyo right side of the area. He adjusted well to blast into the left corner from 14 yards beyond the grasp of Garratt. County were galvanised by the goal and continued to build momentum with Bakinson freeing up Semenyo and Matt with runs in behind. On 70 minutes, County worked a quick ball right side on the break when Willmott supplied Bakinson and he was crudely checked by Ray who was booked. Crewe continued to offer threat when they picked holes in the middle and County were caught napping on 72 minutes. Kirk was allowed far too much freedom to cut inside out foxing Forbes and his opportunist effort from 30 yards was pushed around the left post superbly by Day. Crewe remained positive flooding men forward but County were increasingly menacing on the break and had a great chance to forge ahead moment later. County broke with venom and had a four on two situation when Semenyo played in Amond right side of the area and his chip from 14 yards was cleared off the line by Ng. County then had Matt in the book for a late tackle on the keeper as he slide in for a 50-50 challenge. County worked hard off the ball to deny Crewe any momentum and Semenyo was booked for clattering Ng into the hoardings with a late challenge as Ng attacked the right flank. County were ahead on 76 minutes when a cross left side by Butler was only half cleared and returned back in but a panic clearance by Ng saw the ball drop back into the six yard box and Garratt flapped at the punch allowing Amond to steer the ball home from 6 yards. Crewe made an immediate change with Dale replacing Kirk and he went left side. County kept probing away and were effective on the counter with Matt and Amond having the better of the ball against Hunt and Ray. On 80 minutes, Willmott went close with a long range volley at the ball sat invitingly but his shot dipped over the bar. County made a change soon after with Semenyo replaced by Sheehan and Crewe were forced to replace Hunt who had suffered a knock in a challenge with Amond and brought on Finney to bolster the midfield that had lost control of the game. Crewe picked up their game persisting with attacking their left side with substitute Dale causing problems with his pace and Forbes was put under pressure. On 87 minutes, County conceded a clumsy foul in a dangerous position left side of the area when Willmott got caught the wrong side of Dale. Ainley whipped over a decent delivery and Franks appeared to unnecessarily block the run of Porter with the ball dropping well behind. The penalty was slotted home by Porter with a low finish down the middle. Crewe were energised by the goal putting County again on the back-foot in the 6 minutes of injury time. On 90 minutes, Crewe broke well from deep with County giving the ball away cheaply and Jones slipped a neat ball for Bowery right side of the area but his rash volley went well over from 14 yards. County made a defensive change moments later with O’Brien replacing Willmott. Crewe kept pressing in the final minutes flooding men forward and got a late winner on 90+2 stemming for Dale again causing havoc with pace left side. County panicked dealing with a hopeful cross into the box and both Porter and Jones had shots well blocked after Butler headed off the line but Ainley was alive on the edge of the area to blast low into the left corner. Crewe made a late defensive change to run down the clock with Raynes replacing Ainley. County made a late effort to salvage something from the game but with Matt and Franks struggling with knocks they struggled to force any late pressure. Demetriou went closest with a long range shot being saved low down by Garratt but Crewe held out for a deserved win overall which the low crowd celebrated enthusiastically.

Day (7) – dealt well with low shots from distance and kicked well into the wind. Made some smart instinctive saves to keep County in the game

Forbes (5) –  put under pressure by Kirk in spells first half and never really got beyond half way line. Slipped some decent low passes but let man get past too easily on times

Butler (6) – looks less comfortable in four man defence, uncertain with his challenges and left too much space in behind. Crosses he provided were good but limited

Franks (5) –  did a reasonable job on the aerial duals with Porter and tracking danger but moments where he lacked composure and fast thought proved costly.

Demetriou (6) – got sucked out of position on times, did not have his own way in the air, but made some brave challenges and mopped up balls in behind well to clear danger

Bennett (6) – just not in the game enough to assert matters in midfield, did a job protecting defence and competed well but ended up firefighting a lot of the time.

Willmott (5) – main threat from wide but restricted on crosses. when he went narrow into the middle influence waned often bullied off the ball and was slow to the ball or close down.

Dolan (4) – energy and alertness was lacking today, spent a lot of the game chasing shadows and never really got on the ball. Had few set pieces on offer and was replaced by:

Bakinson (7) – gave County more impetus and covered a lot of ground forcing the play further up the pitch supporting best moves box to box.

Matt (6) – struggled to get better of Ray in the aerial duals and despite a better spells second half when showed teeth and got facing forward his threat was limited

Amond (6) – had a couple of decent chances, had a quiet first half being forced back too deep but came alive for a spell early in second half but looked jaded in the final stages

 

 

SWOT ANALYSIS OPPONENTS
Strengths –
their work ethic got the result and ability to keep pressing late in the game. They were good in transition especially on the flanks, bold in the final stages and got reward  

Weaknesses –  left gaps in behind and both centre backs lacked pace and when County did show nerve to gold the ball they gave away free kicks but were able to recover.

Opportunities –  went for a quick balls in behind first half to use their front three. Made runs from deep more second half using the left side persistently late in the game which paid off
Threats –
Ainley instigated several good moves in around the box with quick feet. Bowery shots from distance and Porter craft linking play and aerial threat. Kirk crosses left side.

OFFICIALS
N Kinseley (7) – was lenient but consistent allowing climbing and happy to let game flow. Got taken in by some of the fouls not there which were just collisions.


MAN OF THE MATCH
Callum Ainley – never allowed County to relax with some darting runs right side and clever link play exploited space offered. Got the late winner with well-timed strike

IF YOU WERE MICHAEL FLYNN WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

County were not at the races for much of the first half allowing Crewe to dictate the pace and shape of the game at will and they could have been further behind at the break. County were put under pressure playing a 4-3-3 formation which has served them well on times at home this season but less convincing away. However, it is becoming a problem when the County midfield engine room are passive or off the pace of the game as they were far too much of this match. County offered their best away performances earlier in the season adopting a more compact 3-5-2 system and it is important County find their strengths to suit in the final months to get themselves back up the league. Butler played too deep and the lack influence and drive in midfield was the main impairing factor today. Bennett plays better in centre of defence when he can give assurance allowing the likes of Dolan, Bakinson, Sheehan to coordinate creativity and link play. County have as good front three in the League Two but the crux now is whether they have tools in the midfield to make the system work effectively. County struggled to defend when Crewe flooded players out wide and got little joy in the corners themselves to relieve the pressure and it was only when Bakinson was introduced they carried more threat. The late change bringing on Sheehan was puzzling when you felt if any change was needed it would be defensive to see out the game. County have Exeter City up next at home and need to get their league campaign back on track. Exeter have been more direct this season but having lost top scorer Stockley more will be asked from Forte who will be supported by left side Bowman and Wheeler right side in the front three.