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Matches of Yesteryear - Crewe v U's 21/4/14
Written by wessex_exile on Friday, 20th Sep 2019 13:15

Yesterday was Alfie’s 15th birthday, so I was delighted that the random match generator has selected a game that is an important part of our life together following the U’s. I therefore make no apologies about the focus I will place on this game – I hope it brings you as much pleasure as it did me.

Crewe Alexandra v Colchester United

Saturday 21st April 2014

Nationwide League 2 (Tier 3)

Attendance 4,603

Match 13 of the series, and we are visiting Gresty Road, home of Crewe Alexandra. I have visited Gresty Rd on many occasions, and regardless of results, these have always been pleasant trips. This was my first trip with my youngest, so I decided this would be a road trip – here’s Alfie ready for the off on a bright and sunny Saturday morning.

I don’t have a programme for this match, but have retained Alfie’s ticket stub.

A string of poor results over the previous month (5 defeats out of six) had left the U’s uncomfortably close to the relegation zone, along with Crewe Alexandra – this really was one of those relegation 6-pointers, and with only two matches left after this one to do anything about it if things went badly. The U’s were managed by Joe Dunne, and much of the talk at the time was about his continued apparent reluctance to put Dominic Vose in the starting line-up. We arrived in good time for the match, so much so that we had time to grab a drink at the Royal Hotel Corner Bar – cheers Alfie!

…followed by something to soak the beer up from the excellent Benny’s Gresty Road chippy.

The U’s lined up at Gresty Road:

44..Sam Walker

20..Brian Wilson

4….Magnus Okuonghae (Ryan Dickson 84’)

18..Tom Eastman

16..Alex Wynter

15..Marcus Bean

22..Alex Gilbey

21..Gavin Massey

11..Freddie Sears (Tosin Olufemi 90+1’)

7….Sanchez Watt (Drey Wright 82’)

17..Jabo Ibehre

None of the Crewe line-up that day, managed by Steve Davis, ring any bells with me. Steve Davis had of course taken over from Dario Gradi a few years earlier, when Dario moved into the Director of Football role at the club. Chris Porter, who had made his debut for the U’s in January 2014, would go on to sign for Crewe in 2017 after turning down a fresh contract with us. Considering we were approaching squeaky-bum time at the wrong end of the league, there was a decent following that day for the U’s – must have been near on 300 I reckon. I was particularly delighted that amongst them were Paul and Martin from the Swedish Branch, always a pleasure to catch up with them, and on this occasion a first-time introduction to Alfie as well!

The U’s started the nervier of the two, but did gradually grow into the game, and on balance it was a good performance, in the first half particularly. Even in the second half, when Crewe got back into the game we played well, with purpose, conviction and a whole heap of effort. Jabo particularly was absolutely everywhere, and Sears' near constant running to close down their back four was great to see (plus he hit the post – twice!). Sanchez, who had been somewhat off-form recently, seemed to have re-found his edge too, and put in a great shift running the channels with some very deft touches, and Jabo was full of tricks too. Gavin Massey, who was excellent all game, was rightly awarded the Man of the Match award. Magnus was injured right near the end, and replaced by Dickson – who frankly wasn’t very good at all based on the 5 minutes of review time available.

However, overall it was the right team, an excellent effort, and just a shame we didn't get the break and score. If I were to be more critical, Joe Dunne left the substitutions too late to have a meaningful impact, and we were also guilty of wanting too many touches in attack – not quite direct enough. That being said, we had gone from a somewhat shot-shy outfit in recent weeks, to peppering them in from every angle for this game – I can’t remember the stats, but I’m pretty sure we were already in double figures for efforts on goal by half-time. However, Crewe missing a free header right at the end saved us a hard-earned point.

Crewe Alexandra 0 Colchester United 0

Though only 1 point hadn’t quite ensured our survival, fortunately many other results around us went our way that Saturday, with Stevenage, Shrewsbury and Carlisle all losing, Tranmere (and of course Crewe) drawing, and only Notts County picking up 3 points. Stevenage’s defeat relegated them, and Shrewsbury’s made their relegation almost inevitable.

However, we needn’t have worried. In the final two games of the season, we smashed already promoted Brentford 4-1 at the Community Stadium, and then beat Walsall 1-0 at the Bescot (Doogie’s final match for the U’s), to finish relatively comfortably in 16th place, six points clear of relegation. Tranmere, Carlisle, Shrewsbury and Stevenage weren’t so lucky, with Wolves, Brentford and Rotherham via the play-offs going in the opposite direction.

For me and the boy, it had been a cracking day out really. Lovely weather, trouble-free journeys there and back, good food and drink, a half-decent game to watch (even if we couldn’t quite get the winner), and a chance to catch up with good friends.

Alfie certainly seemed to enjoy it – Happy Birthday Alfie!...

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