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Matches of Yesteryear - Crewe v U's 17/2/18
Written by wessex_exile on Saturday, 5th Oct 2019 12:27

Crewe Alexandra v Colchester United

Saturday 17th February 2018

Sky Bet League 2 (Tier 4)

Attendance 3,548

Match #16 of the series, and we return to Gresty Rd, and this one only two seasons ago. I’ve been following the U’s for getting close to 50 years now, and for most of that time since I left for Bradford University in 1981, as an exile. As a result, and like most long-suffering exiles, I’ve learned to travel more in hope than expectation, and take whatever positives I can out of each match, because chances are (probability-wise) what I’m not going to see is a victory. However, occasionally the U’s do win, and what days they are – whether it’s a thoroughly deserved crushing of our opponents, or “one off the arse” in the 92nd minute steals. Sometimes, it’s a battling hard-earned backs-to-the-walls performance to grind out a satisfactory point. More often, it is defeat, but still nevertheless a hard-working, disciplined performance, or we simply have to accept we were beaten by the better team.

And then there are days like today…

The U’s lined up:

1….Sam Walker

5….Luke Prosser (c)

18..Tom Eastman

6….Frankie Kent

2….Ryan Jackson

7….Drey Wright

14..Brandon Comley

17..Ben Stevenson (Sean Murray 70’)

20..Courtney Senior (Brennan Dickenson 62’)

27..Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe (Liam Mandeville 65’)

19..Mikael Mandron

The obvious name of note in the Crewe squad would have been Chris Porter, who had joined Crewe from the U’s at the end of the previous season. However, he wasn’t even on the team sheet – I’m not 100% certain, but I think he was injured and missed out the later stages of that season? Also missing was Sammie Szmodics, apparently out with a back injury. At the time, the U’s were still in the hunt for a play-off spot, but our form since Christmas had been very patchy, with only two victories, albeit one was the Tuesday before this match at home to Coventry City, and we had slipped out of the play-offs to 10th place. Crewe, on the other hand, were in terrible form, losing five and drawing one of their previous six matches, and were perilously close to slipping into the relegation dog-fight.

Me and Alfie drove up for this game, and parked up in the stadium car park. Apologies if I’m mixing this one up with another trip to Gresty Rd, but I’m fairly sure there had been a torrential cloud burst before kick-off, leaving everyone milling about outside whilst the referee carried out a pitch inspection – sadly, it passed the inspection. Fellow U’sual regulars Noah and Durham were also at the match, though this was one where we all spectacularly failed to meet up with each other.

As for the game, there are plenty of reports from different agencies still widely available on the internet, but I will summarise as best I can from my own recollections. The U’s certainly started brightly, passing the ball around reasonably well, and testing their ‘keeper on a few occasions. A Diaz Wright shot from outside the box, after good work by Junior, was turned around the post (reasonably comfortably) by Ben Garrett. Two more long-range efforts by Stevenson were also comfortably dealt with by Garrett. It wasn’t all one-way traffic though, and as the half went on, Crewe were beginning to get back into the game, with Walker being called on to keep the U’s in it on a couple of occasions. What was most telling, however, was that despite all of our fancy triangles in midfield, we were making precious little real penetration in the final third, with only long-range efforts having any real threat (and really that threat wasn’t much). In particular, Jackson and Wright on the wings were really not working. Clearly expecting a more positive outcome, I filmed one of our free-kicks – this was about as exciting as things were to get I’m afraid.

Still, 0-0 at half-time, and with plenty of possession in our favour, we were all hopeful of better things to come second half. Sadly we were to be disappointed – if our final third threat was minimal in the first half, it became non-existent in the second half. Jackson (who didn’t look fit from the first minute) and Wright had achieved little on their respective flanks first half, so were swapped over for the second half, but nothing came of that. What we needed was a kick up the arse, and Crewe duly obliged in the 60th minute. A free-kick barely a yard outside our penalty area was blasted into the wall, and there was Miller to stab home at close range as the ball spun off. At half-time that wouldn’t have been deserved, but 15 minutes into the second half, it definitely was. McGreal immediately swapped Senior for Dickenson and Junior for Mandeville, but still our failure to find the final ball dogged us, still trying nothing but long-range speculative efforts – Dickenson even had a go from what must have been 40 yards out! To be honest, Walker was becoming our man of the match as far as I was concerned, even if he for some reason decided to play the second half with a low sun in his eyes and no cap!

By full-time, we had been beaten by a team who looked as poor as their recent form suggested, who had shamelessly wasted time as often as possible (even before they were 1-0 up), and whilst we were definitely not helped by some very poor and weak officials, if you have to rely on competent officials in League 2, you’re already doomed. Despite our apparent statistical dominance in attack (14 attempts on goal, five on target), this was about as lacklustre as you could get – we deserved nothing from this game, and we received it in abundance. Me and Alfie left on the final whistle – there was nothing to applaud the team for, so we were off.

Crewe 1 (Miller 60’) Colchester United 0

Though it pains me to remind you all, we finished the season in a very disappointing 13th place, only just top half of the table. This result kick-started Crewe a bit, and they went on to win six and draw two of their remaining 12 matches, to finish just two places behind the U’s. If this particular black cloud of a match did have a silver lining, take another look at mine and Alfie’s tickets. Yep, a second occasion where I just happened to be in the right place and the right time, as someone thrust a pair of complimentary tickets in my hand as we wandered up to the turnstiles.

Definitely not an earth-moving experience as matches following the U’s go, but it was elsewhere, with a 4.4 magnitude earthquake hitting south Wales and south-west England about 30 minutes before the match. It passed me by unnoticed, but certainly was felt by some in the area.

“Did the earth move for you darling?”

Most definitely not…

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