Dogged Argyle defeat unlucky Crewe


Crewe 1-2 Plymouth –

For the first time this season, Crewe Alexandra manager Steve Davis was forced to pick a team that did not include his two first choice strikers, Ryan Lowe and Chris Dagnall. With an extra man in midfield, the Railwaymen competed reasonably well in a scrappy even game at Gresty Road and took the lead through Alex Kiwomya. Plymouth stayed in the contest thanks to Luke McCormick’s penalty save, which proved the springboard for Craig Tanner’s swift equalizer and ultimately, Graham Carey’s second half winner.

A more one-sided affair looked plausible early on when Plymouth pressed well and moved the ball with speed and confidence, Jordan Slew looking lively. It was perhaps partly an unwelcome flare which disrupted their momentum and tempo, because after a short break in play Crewe gained a foothold. Daniel Udoh posed a threat with his pace and willingness to run in behind, Danny Hollands screened the defence well while James Jones battled strongly. The latter set up Kiwomya, who cut inside and fired home to give Steve Davis’ side a deserved lead.

Luke McCormick has long been one of the best goalkeepers in League Two. He proved his worth once again, saving George Cooper’s penalty, before the same player hit the bar moments later. That slice of luck sparked the visitors into life and Craig Tanner equalized, finding space in the box before drilling past Ben Garratt.

Crewe had spells of second half pressure down the right, thanks to Perry Ng’s forward forays, but created little against a solid Plymouth back-line. Derek Adams’ side did not show as much urgency and there were times when it appeared they were settling for a point.

A combination of an injury to the powerful Zoumana Bakayogo and the impact of substitute Jake Jervis meant the visitors themselves had some joy down the right. When the latter crossed, Jimmy Spencer missed the ball, but it fell to Carey who rammed home. The Irishman was the away side’s most creative player, having set up two second half chances almost single-handedly.

The goal deflated Crewe and it took them until the last five minutes of the 90 to attack with the required pace. Substitute Callum Saunders could have levelled from close range and the dangerous Alex Kiwomya’s shot required a last ditch block from the committed Gary Miller. After some firm defending though, Sonny Bradley strong at centre-back, George Cooper’s free-kick hit the wrong side of the net to signal defeat for Crewe.

It was a respectable display from the hosts who deserved at least a draw, but Plymouth have developed a knack of edging tight games. Similarly to Northampton last season – goal expectancy statistics and the balance of games might suggest they are fortunate to be 11 points clear of the play-offs, but eventually, one must respect their capacity to consistently churn out results.

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