AFC Wimbledon 3, Crewe 2: spirited second-half show fails to reverse dismal away run

By Gwyn Griffiths

25th Nov 2021 | Local Sport

A SPIRITED second-half showing failed to make up for first-half shortcomings as Crewe are left still looking for a first win on the road in League One.

In fact, had they achieved it against the odds it would have been more appropriate to bill it a first success on the tracks as it was a high-speed train which delivered Dave Artell and his players into London today.

Perhaps the relaxing journey down on the West Coast Mainline paid off early on as Crewe started strongly and Chris Long's superb early strike offered hope they could carry on where they left off on Saturday in victory against Gillingham.

Reality hit soon enough, though, as a catalogue of timid defending allowed the ever-pressing Dons to ease ominously into a 3-1 interval lead.

It looked as though the Alex could be on the end of a caning, but there was a vast improvement after the break and after Chris Porter cut the arrears with an 89th-minute goal there was time for Ayoub Assal's dismissal to leave the Dons hanging on to their spoils.

Alex keeper Dave Richards has to shoulder the blame for the first and second Wimbledon goals and skipper Luke Murphy the third, a carelessly-conceded penalty. But it wasn't just Crewe's experienced men who were below par.

The inexperienced backline of Billy Sass-Davies and Zac Williams, joined by Terell Thomas, a replacement for Luke Offord who was serving a one game ban for five bookings, struggled for long periods.

Crewe were under the cosh in the first half and were not helped by a midfield which was easily over run.

At least Long showed his goal instinct again by firing in across the face of goal from a tight angle after being released by Porter's pass for the 11th-minute opener.

But the good work was quickly undone and Jack Rudoni was offered a free header from Anthony Hartigan's free kick and Richards could only help the midfielder's header over the line in the 24th-minute.

When the keeper failed to hold Nesta Guiness-Walker's low shot, Rudoni's pull back from the byline was finished by Ollie Palmer from close range (35).

And the spotkick, ridiculously conceded from Crewe's own throw, was desperate stuff with Murphy left trailing trying to retrieve the situation but clumsily bringing Assal down.

Palmer stepped up to hit the bottom corner (44). The big striker delighted in taunting some of the 300-strong Alex faithful behind the goal and at the other end he nearly completed his hat-trick soon after the break.

This time Richards did well to keep out the former Crawley frontman's far-post header.

But a fightback of sorts emerged thanks to a change to the overwhelmed three-at-the back system and the introductions of Oli Finney and Regan Griffiths.

Sub Finney forced a save out of keeper Nik Tzanev with a well-struck volley, while Scott Kashket directed a header over from a tough angle.

Then teenager Williams headed just over from Griffiths' late corner before Long found space on the left to drive across the face of goal with Porter stabbing in from close range.

With the Dons down to 10 men in the fourth minute of added time after Assal's second yellow card for a lunge at Williams, hopes flickered briefly that an unlikely point could be salvaged.

But Rio Adebisi's selection of an angled drive rather than a deft cross into a crowded box with nearly the last kick of the game summed up Crewe's current plight as their 10-game winless run on their travels proves to be their worst sequence in 12 years.

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