Date: 11th August 2007 at 8:45pm
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The Alex ran out 2-1 winners in the opening game of the season.

A tough, physical Brighton side proved tough opposition for Crewe but scrappy defending saw Crewe clinch victory in the last 10 minutes.

Brighton will feel agreived to have not taken the lead early on. A header at the far post saw Dean Hammond send the ball looping past Ben Williams but the ball somehow clipped the post and came back out, leaving Williams very relieved.

Crewe created chances too, Byron Moore showed class down the right wing, regularly getting in behind the defence. A perfect cross from the byline skimmed across the face of goal – somehow going behind all the players attacking it. Moore also nearly scored an early debut goal when he was found by Nicky Maynard from the byline, but his shot went straight into a crowd of players in the box.

At the other end of the pitch, the defence were struggling with any high ball that came their way. Brighton’s height up front was proving the problem, with them winning virtually every header. It was an aerial ball that led to their opening goal on 14 minutes too; failing to clear the ball it bounced around in the area before falling to the feet of Dean Cox who hit it through a crowd of players, hoping it’d find the back of the net.

Crewe hit back though and pressured Brighton, Nicky Maynard showing ambition as he tried a 40 yard lob on the keeper, but the ball went over. Pressure paid off on 20 minutes though; a Billy Jones crossed ping-ponged in the area, leading to a Brighton hand ball. Despite the referee waving calls away, the linesman flagged immediately.

Gary Roberts smashed home the penalty after a few minutes of unsporting behaviour from the Brighton ‘keeper and defender.

However, celebrations were short lived. Straight from kick off Maynard went straight to close down the ball, and unfortunately his block left him on the floor in agony. After a few minutes, he was stretchered off with a leg brace on. Dario later revealed that Maynard had broken his leg and will be out for at least three months, a massive blow to our striking options.

Maynard was replaced with David Vaughan, Byron Moore made his way to become Shaun Miller’s partner up front.

At the end of the first half, Brighton nearly re-took the lead. Another poorly dealt with high ball led to another scramble in the box. Ben Williams made multiple saves on the line as the Brighton players tried to bundle the ball over the line. Despite shouts from Brighton, the ball clearly never crossed the line.

After Crewe dominated much of the play in the first half, the second half was slightly more even – with slightly less drama.

The Alex defence were a bit more solid, although still looking vulnerable with the high balls as Brighton clipped the post from a Revell header.

Byron Moore probably had the best chance of a winner when him and Miller worked well but his 25 yard shot was well tipped over by Kuipers.

It did look as though the game was heading for a 1-1 draw with neither team looking too likely go at it in the late stages, not wanting to risk the point already in the bag. However, Crewe’s final mount of pressure paid off as a fantasic Billy Jones cross across the face of goal met Gary Roberts at the far post who slammed home a header sending the Crewe crowd wild.

Holland brought on O’Donnell and Pope for the final 10 minutes as they ran down the clock. Despite a Brighton penalty shout, Crewe held on to the 3 points putting them top of the league!

Player Ratings

Ben Williams
Flapped at a few crosses and corners, but made a few scrappy/brave saves. Wasn’t at fault for the goal, but you wonder how many times we’ll be allowed to say that this season.

Danny Woodards
Coped well with the tricky little winger Dean Cox. Comfortable with the high balls and was composed in defending. Didn’t get forward as well as we’re used to but over all a solid game from Danny.

Julien Baudet
Failed to make his aerial presence known and allowed men to go unmarked at corners. Other than that he put in a good solid performance.

Chris McCready
Same as Baudet, both were at fault for not getting their head to the ball, but again solid.

Billy Jones
Came from Exeter in the summer but took to the league like a duck to water. Composed in defending and his crosses were a class above this league. His cross for the winning goal was worth the £65,000 alone!

Neil Cox
Whilst his experience is valuable, his on-ball play plays with your nerves. Sometimes slow to react when needed and can be too casual on the ball.

Steven Schumacher
Has slowly come into form over the summer and looks a fantastic purchase. He went from box to box all afternoon, superb tackling and some brilliant passing. The driving force of our midfield.

Gary Roberts
A very energetic performance. Covered every blade of grass and showed improvements on last season. Played in unfamiliar wing roles but managed to get two goals. One from the spot and the other a header after a brilliant Jones cross. One of the best players on the field.

Byron Moore
Made his league debut and looked every inch good enough. Worked the wing well, and worked his socks off. After Maynard went off, Byron was moved up front and was just as comfortable. The youngster looks set to play a big part this season.

Shaun Miller
Was made to work for the ball as he was up against big defenders without a big striker to partner him. Fairly quiet game but showed glimpses of brilliant skill. Will see more first team action with Maynard out.

Nicky Maynard
Looked bright till he injured his leg, which we now know is broken. Like Miller, he struggled without the help of a big man up front but will be a massive loss.

David Vaughan
Despite missing most of summer he looked bright. He didn’t change the game but saw a lot of the ball and did very little wrong, hopefully we’ll see a better Vaughan than we did last season.

Tom Pope
Came on for the last 10 minutes to hold onto the 2-1 lead, and he did exactly that. Nothing wrong with his performance, finally won us some headers up front and gave some much needed physical option. Not the new striker we need yet though.
Had very little to do, but came on with for the same job as Pope. Holland had him in mind all through the second half as we struggled with Brighton’s aerial balls, so don’t be surprised to see more of him soon.

Dario Says:
‘We didn’t want to lose the game and when Nicky goes off so early, I was thinking to myself, a draw would be a good result here, I’d have settled for a draw at that stage. Even half way through the second half when we did persist on lobbing balls to their centre halves you couldn’t see a goal coming except that you always knew with the two strikers that we’d got that there was a chance.

‘We wouldn’t really want to start with those two strikers and we have probably got away with it because they have got talent those two boys – but it is not something we are going to be able to do week in and week out.

‘In the end we got the goal from the work that we have been doing with the crosses. Billy Jones is the best deliver of the ball for a back player that we have had for a long time.’


Dean Wilkins Says:
‘I’m finding it very difficult to take to be honest with you,

‘We had a twice as many shots as the opposition, and we’re the away team. We hit the bar twice and have had twice as many corners, but the thing that has let us down again – as it did at times last year – was a lack of concentration.

‘All we had to do was deal with one cross of any sort of quality that has gone in the box, and we failed to do it.’