SAUNDERS’ SCRAMBLE SORENESS
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.”
STALEMATE: Crewe midfielder Ryan Colclough, left, and Crawley defender Ryan Dickson do battle
HIGH GUYS: Crewe’s Greg Leigh, left, and Richard Wood