Date: 30th January 2012 at 11:06am
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Red cards in the first half for both of Crewe’s centre-halves put paid to hopes of extending the South Cheshire club’s unbeaten run to four games.

Barnet manager Lawrie Sanchez admitted after the game that it would have been a different story had both teams managed to keep 11 men on the field for the full 90 minutes. And before captain David Artell was given his marching orders it certainly looked as though the visitors were in pole position for another three points to round off an excellent January.

From the off it was clear that the Alex meant business with defender Matt Tootle, making his 100th appearance for the club, showing much attacking flair from the full back position.

Greg Pearson came close to making it 3 goals in as many games since arriving on loan from Burton Albion, firing just wide from inside the penalty area after David Artell’s header from an Ashley Westwood corner was cleared off the line.

But the first turning point of the game came in the 29th minute when Artell allowed Izale McLeod to get the better of him from a long ball up-field – not the first time that Artell has struggled from such a punt this season. The Alex skipper feld the Bees front-man inside the penalty area and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Worse was to come for Crewe as Artell was correctly given his marching orders. McLeod dispatched of the penalty with consumate ease, sending Steve Phillips the wrong way. From a position of early dominance the Alex suddenly found themselves a goal down and a man down.

The second major turning point of the game came in the 44th minute when Adam Dugdale needlessly lunged in two-footed on the half-way line. Again the referee rushed to his pocket to produce the red card and Crewe were down to 9 men for the first time since Gudjon Thordarson’s final game in charge against Bury in 2009. This red was perhaps slightly more debatable, but if you fly in with two-feet showing and studs up there really is only going to be one outcome.

Manager Steve Davis admitted after the match that he’d seen Dugdale do this in training before now, and of course Crewe fans will remember a very similar challenge in the derby match with Port Vale earlier in the season which only resulted in a yellow card. Dugdale is certainly proving to be an important player but he needs to get this part of his game out of the system as soon as possible.

From thereon in there really was only going to be one winner. Barnet added a second goal with a back-post header in the 77th minute and the game was over.

Crewe face Accrington Stanley at Gresty Road this coming Saturday and will be looking to make amends for the result at Barnet, but without either of the club’s first-choice centre-halves it will be difficult.