The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE ONE - By James Owens

DEAN Saun­ders was left frus­trated af­ter Craw­ley failed to turn a stop­page­time goal­mouth scram­ble into a last-gasp win­ner against fel­low strug­glers Crewe.

The two worst de­fences in League One were pit­ted against each other on a poor sur­face at Gresty Road, but this rel­e­ga­tion six-pointer ended in a drab draw.

Crewe had the bet­ter of the first half, but their at­tack­ing en­deav­our was rarely matched with qual­ity. Steve Davis’ hosts con­tin­ued on the front foot af­ter the break, but again cre­ated lit­tle of note as their front three of Lauri Dalla Valle, Nicky Ajose and Uche Ik­peazu laboured.

And the vis­i­tors were look­ing like an in­creas­ingly good bet for a smas­hand-grab win as the game neared its con­clu­sion.

Alan Tate was left on the ground af­ter a clever turn from Izale McLeod six min­utes from time, but Craw­ley’s top scorer fired straight into the arms of Crewe stop­per Paul Rachubka from point-blank range.

Rachubka was made to work harder five min­utes later, pro­duc­ing an ex­cel­lent save to deny Gavin Tom­lin. The re­sult­ing cor­ner led to a dra­matic scram­ble, with Crewe even­tu­ally clear­ing the ball off the line, and leav­ing Saun­ders to pon­der what might have been.

“The lads said it wasn’t over the line, but re­ally, some­one’s got to go and poke that over the line,” Craw­ley’s in­terim manager said.

“It was bounc­ing around in their box, and we’ve had nu­mer­ous balls bounc­ing around in their box that we didn’t get on the end of.”

Victory would have seen the Red Devils climb above Crewe and out of the bot­tom four, but Saun­ders main­tained that their point at Gresty Road could yet prove to be a valu­able one.

“It might keep us up,” he added. “We stayed in the game but we didn’t play par­tic­u­larly well in the first half, but in the sec­ond were much bet­ter.

“We lost last week, so get­ting a point away from home in such a crunch game, as long as we win on Mon­day against Old­ham, is a good re­sult.”

Crewe boss Davis felt his team coped well with a ‘one-di­men­sional’ vis­it­ing side, but ad­mit­ted that they had lacked the qual­ity to break the dead­lock.

“I thought in the first half par­tic­u­larly, we played the bet­ter foot­ball,” Davis said.

“In the sec­ond half the game was a lit­tle bit scrap­pier. I thought we fin­ished strongly and had them camped in a lit­tle bit, but we just couldn’t break them down.”

But like Saun­ders, Davis con­ceded that he was also re­lieved sim­ply to have avoided de­feat in a tense en­counter.

“In the con­text of where we are, it was im­por­tant that we didn’t get beat, and we keep that gap, a nar­row gap,” he added.

“We went to Sh­effield United and beat them last week, but we’ve come up against a very one-di­men­sional team here.”

PIC­TURES: Me­dia Im­age Ltd

STALE­MATE: Crewe mid­fielder Ryan Col­clough, left, and Craw­ley de­fender Ryan Dick­son do battle

HIGH GUYS: Crewe’s Greg Leigh, left, and Richard Wood

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