TWO-CARD TRICK FROM SALISBURY
REFEREE Mark Salisbury stole the show at Gresty Road, producing eleven yellow cards and two reds as Crewe held Swindon to a goalless draw.
The Robins’ Jack Stephens and Alan Tate of Crewe both benefited from an early bath in a game that could hardly be described as dirty.
Harry Toffolo forced a brilliant save out of home debutant Paul Rachubka late on to deny Swindon all three points, but the referee’s bulging notebook was the main talking point.
Swindon manager Mark Cooper said:“There wasn’t a bad tackle in the game and we’ve seen two people sent off. He needs to look at himself because he’s let himself down.
“The pitch was horrible. We just needed one to fall for us in the box but we didn’t get that little bit of luck.
“We were really comfortable until we tried to win it with ten men against eleven.
“We tried to attack and then they would catch us on the counter-attack.
“The pleasing thing is we didn’t concede. It’s a point towards what we need and we move on to Tuesday.”
Crewe had a chance early on when Oliver Turton found himself clean through on goal but the ball wouldn’t settle and under pressure he blasted wide.
Eight minutes before half-time Michael Smith forced a smart save out of Rachubka as the visitors signalled their intent.
Smith had the ball in the net moments later as Rachubka – who replaced the injured Ben Garratt – could only parry Ben Gladwin’s shot, but a linesmen’s flag saw it chalked off.
Raphael Rossi Branco followed Nathan Thompson into the book for late challenges on Greg Leigh and Marcus Haber respectively, as Crewe looked to exploit the visitors on the break.
Stephens then joined his teammates in the referee’s notebook along with Tate, as tempers frayed.
Massimo Luongo carved himself an opening but could only fire wildly over the bar in a game bereft of clinical finishing.
The frustration was eventually too much for Stephens who idiotically picked up a second yellow and an early bath for blasting the ball into the main stand before Tate followed him down the tunnel in injury time for another consecutive caution.
Crewe manager Steve Davis said: “All we ever talk about is referees.
“I think sometimes they come here wanting to be the centre of attention.
“Fans haven’t come here to see players sent off. They’ve come to watch an entertaining game of football. I didn’t think it warranted the amount of bookings he gave. It wasn’t a dirty game.
“I don’t know how it finished 0-0. Both sides had chances and didn’t take them but I thought it was a great game to watch, end-to-end and both teams were fully committed. That’s what I want from my team. We stuck to our shape very well.”
SEEING RED: Swindon Town defender Jack Stephens, left, is sent off by referee Graham Salisbury
TRACKING: Nathan Byrne, left, and Greg Leigh
STAR MAN PAUL RACHU