Kevin Nolan made five changes to the side that beat Barnet at the weekend. In came Ross Fitzsimons, replacing the injured Adam Collin, while Elliott Hewitt, Terry Hawkridge, Liam Walker and Jonathan Forte were also handed starting berths. Shaun Brisley, Jorge Grant, Shola Ameobi and Jon Stead dropped to the bench.
Crewe started the match strongly and had the first clear-cut chance of the match on 13 minutes, Raynes heading the ball straight at Fitzsimons from a corner. Former Crewe man Matt Tootle, making his 50th Notts appearance, sent the ball over with a long-range effort by way of response, but further shooting opportunities were to prove hard to come by for Notts in a first half largely dominated by the Railwaymen. Chris Porter fired the ball straight at Fitzsimons from a tight angle and, when the forward did squeeze an effort past the keeper moments later, Hewitt positioned himself well on the line to keep the ball out. Walker then gave home keeper Dave Richards a semi-scare with a curling 30-yard free kick, the stopper making the save before being fouled by a Notts man on the follow-up. The hosts still looked like the side more likely to break the deadlock however and, shortly after Callum Ainley had fired the ball narrowly wide, David Artell’s men got their goal. It came in scrappy style just before the break, skipper Raynes turning the ball home at the back post after George Cooper’s free-kick.
There were no changes at half-time and Notts came close to an equaliser shortly after the restart, Carl Dickinson seeing his excellent free-kick tipped wide by Richards just as it looked like the ball was about to nestle in the corner. Ryan Yates, who scored his first league goal for the club last weekend, then skewed a shot wide on the turn before Nolan made a hat-trick of substitutions, Grant, Stead and Ameobi replacing Walker, Forte and Hawkridge. The trio added extra impetus to Notts’ attacking play and Stead was unfortunate to see his well-struck effort fly straight at Richards from 25 yards. But the Magpies were hit with a sucker punch shortly afterwards when Bowery latched on to a perfectly weighted ball over the top and slid it neatly beyond Fitzsimons, doubling the hosts’ lead. Ameobi entered the referee’s notebook for a foul on 70 minutes, joining Yates who had been pulled up earlier in the half. And the pair were later joined by Grant following an altercation near the touchline. Ameobi couldn’t make contact with a diving header, Crewe’s Conor Grant saw a close-range effort saved by Fitzsimons and Dickinson had a free-kick blocked shortly before five minutes of added time were indicated. But the Magpies were unable to recover and the match ended 2-0 to the hosts.
Crewe Alexandra: Richards, Ng, Raynes, Nolan, Bakayogo, Ainley, Lowery (Walker 65), Grant, Cooper (Pickering 76), Porter, Bowery.
Booked: Ng, Lowery, Porter.
Notts County: Fitzsimons, Dickinson, Duffy, Hewitt, Tootle, Walker (Grant 59), Milsom, Yates, Hawkridge (Stead 59), Forte (Amoebi 59), Alessandra.
Booked: Dickinson, Yates, Amoebi.