Two sent off as Stevenage show steel to clinch deserved victory at Crewe
- Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo
Stevenage emerged from Crewe with all three points in a chaotic but enthralling encounter that saw a man sent off for each side during a bizarre incident in the opening half.
Boro will be delighted with an afternoon’s work that saw them withstand a late surge – though more crosses than actual chances– in a result that extends their unbeaten run, but they will have to do without Jamie Jones for ‘the foreseeable future’ after the keeper was injured and then sent off during a tussle with Crewe striker Chris Dagnall.
All had been going well for Stevenage before the red mist descended as Matt Godden, their captivating striker, put them ahead after just seven minutes.
In a routine straight off the training ground – though of course most set pieces are – Charlie Lee’s long throw was flicked on by Luke Wilkinson, a colossus at both ends of the pitch, and the ball fell to Godden just six yards out.
The striker had an attempt but it was blocked. Undeterred, he twisted and turned his way into making space from which he beat Brad Garratt in the Crewe goal and sent Boro’s 172 fans into raptures.
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But just 18 minutes later and both sides had players leaving the pitch due to red cards – Dagnall walking and Jones on a stretcher, booed by the home supporters.
Dagnall, chasing a long pass, left his foot in as Jones clutched the ball, leaving the keeper on the ground. But as Dagnall approached Jones reacted and following a melee between both sets of players the referee gave Dagnall his marching orders followed by the goalkeeper.
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Chris Day came on for Michael Tonge for the visitors but in truth had little to do for much of the game.
In fact Crewe’s better chances had come earlier with George Cooper, as good as any attacking player on the pitch, crossing perfectly for Jordan Bowery to curl off target before Crewe midfielder James Jones fired wide.
But after the explosive incident things settled quickly and it was Stevenage who pressed home their extra quality.
After Josh McQuoid had tested the home side with a long-range effort, Boro went two up when a Jobi McAnuff corner to the far post was nodded back by Wilkinson and Fraser Franks turned the ball home from close range. Crewe, it seemed, hadn’t learnt their lessons from Boro’s first goal and had allowed Wilkinson too much space.
It was no surprise to see a couple of changes at the break for the hosts as Ryan Wintle and Jon Guthrie made way for Zoumana Bakayogo and Alex Kiwomya.
Bokoyogo was put to work down the left and it worked for about 10 minuts until Sarll countered that with substitute Ben Kennedy, who would occupy the full-back’s thoughts for most of the remainder of the half.
Crewe, though failed to really test the Boro goal.
There were plenty of crosses – two of which Jack King spectacularly headed away from his own goal two yards out – before, with 20 minutes to go, Wilkinson came up against Cooper in the box and the midfielder fell over.
It was soft and the referee awarded a penalty, but James Jones made no mistake with a fine finish for 2-1.
Crewe’s tails were now up and a Kiwomya cross was flicked on by Cooper but nobody was at the far post to guide it home.
King was then forced into his second diving header of the game to clear his lines while Wilkinson made a fine block.
Kiwomya then fluffed his lines in the dying moments when, off-balance, he curled wide as Boro deservedly took all three points.
Crewe Alexandra: Garratt, Turton, Guthrie (Bakayogo 46), Ray, Nugent, Jones, Dagnall, Cooper, Bowery, Wintle (Kiwomya 46), Cooke. Subs: Richards, Bingham, Kirk, Ng, Ainley.
Stevenage: Jones, King, Franks, Wilkinson, Ogilvie, Tonge (Day 27), Lee, McQuoid (Kennedy 61), McAnuff, Pett, Godden (Gorman 83). Subs: Cowans, Hinds, Ntlhe, Loft.
Att: 3547 (172 away)