Date:Saturday January 8 2011
Crewe Alexandra 3 Wycombe Wanderers 0
The Blues came back down to earth with a bump at Gresty Road and were fortunate not to lose by an even greater margin.
Two superb saves by keeper Nikki Bull and some wayward finishing from the Railwaymen kept the damage down to three while Wycombe themselves rarely threatened to score.
It didn't take long to realise that Crewe possessed sufficient pace to terrify the Blues' defence. Left-winger Byron Moore was too hot to handle for Chris Westwood and twice during the early exchanges he fizzed a low ball across the face of goal with his teammates unable to apply the finishing touch.
Wycombe's best spell of the match came in the twenty minute period leading up to half-time. Long range efforts from Stuart Beavon and Lewis Montrose tested Crewe keeper Rhys Taylor, while their best move saw Kevin Betsy chip the ball down the line for Stuart Beavon whose first-time cross was headed goalwards by Scott Rendell only for Taylor to again save the day.
Crewe striker Clayton Donaldson was a nuisance all afternoon, but he failed to take advantage when a defence-splitting pass put him one-on-one with Bull and he slid his shot wide of the target when it looked easier to score.
It was a let-off for Wycombe and it came only moments after Donaldson had fired a shot just over the bar and Luke Murphy had put one inches wide of Bull's left-hand post. The Blues had dominated possession but Crewe looked dangerous when given the chance.
Betsy and the industrious Stuart Lewis both missed the target from distance shortly before the break, and the half-time whistle sounded with honours pretty much even.
Normally Wycombe improve in the second-half but today they didn't.
Crewe started strongly when the speedy Moore ghosted past Westwood before forcing a superb save from Bull - the keeper flinging himself backwards to turn the ball away when it seemed destined for the top corner of the net.
Moore was at it again moments later when he cut inside before ballooning the ball over the bar with the goal at his mercy.
Manager Gary Waddock had seen enough and made two substitutions on the hour-mark - one change helped and one didn't.
Marvin McCoy replaced Westwood and within minutes went on a forward run leaving Moore trailing in his wake. The pacey winger had met his match and when he next attacked, McCoy was with him all the way before timing his block to perfection. Those of us who saw McCoy play during pre-season were excited by his raw potential, and it seems six months on the training ground has honed the defensive skills to go with his attacking flair.
The other substitution saw Scott Donnelly make his Wycombe debut in place of Lewis Montrose. It looked like a single goal might win this game and the change signalled Waddock's intention to go for it. But the tough-tackling and energetic central-midfield partnership of Montrose and Lewis had battled hard to earn Wycombe a majority of the possession and restrict Crewe's chances - Donnelly is a different type of player and the substitution backfired as Crewe took control and ran riot.
Donaldson scored the opener after 70 minutes when he out-foxed Dave Winfield and fired his shot high into the top corner of the net.
A minute later he scored the second with an early shot into the bottom corner from 20 yards out.
Bull then made his second wonder-save of the day - tipping Shaun Miller's shot over the bar. Miller wasn't to be denied though, and with five minutes remaining he scored Crewe's third from a rebound after Lee Bell's shot had hit the post.
Apart from the goals, Crewe had several other near-misses but I'm struggling to remember anything of note from Wycombe at the other end.
Every player has an off-day sometimes, but when most of them do, you're in trouble.
Man of the Match - Stuart Lewis
Line-up + ratings
Bull (7), Westwood (5) (McCoy 60) (6), Winfield (6), Johnson (7), Sandell (6), Betsy (6), Montrose (6) (Donnelly 60) (5), Lewis (8), Ainsworth (6) (Strevens 73) (5), Rendell (6), Beavon (7)
Date:Saturday January 8 2011
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