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Crewe Alex opinion: Lack of cutting edge balanced by improvement at back; Sports editor PETER MORSE gives his View from the Stands.

Byline: Peter Morse

After Crewe demolished Morecambe 6-0 on the opening day of the season they seemed unlikely to be accused of lacking a cutting edge any time soon.

Indeed, they could have more in the fast flowing, ruthless attacking display which fried the Shrimps.

But since then, it's been hard going.

A blank -- with the only one shot on target being an unsuccessful penalty -- at Newport.

Then just the one in the cup defeat to Fleetwood, and now another misfire against MK Dons, and we're wondering whether the goalfest was a flash in the pan.

Certainly, Crewe have lacked quality in those games.

Keepers Joe Day and Lee Nicholls had a watching brief for the majority of their encounters with the Alex, while Fleetwood's Alex Cairns' main involvement was a brilliant shootout save from Perry Ng.

Against Paul Tisdale's side, an improved overall performance fell just short of what was required because good positions and promising situations were wasted by rushed crosses from deep or sloppy play when it counted.

Time and again the home side eased to within range but then failed to conjure opportunities to work Nicholls to any great extent.

It wasn't until sub Chris Porter brought a decent double-stop from the custodian that Crewe genuinely looked like scoring.

But, at the other end, a marked improvement is emerging.

Manager David Artell pinpointed progress in the goals-against column as a key target for this season.

And after a better spell right at the end of last season, in which the Alex conceded only two goals in their last three games, they have picked up where they left off.

Saturday's clean sheet made it just two goals shipped in the first four games. Yes, they have rode their luck a bit with Morecambe, Fleetwood and MK Dons all hitting the woodwork, but the Alex do look more solid.

Keeper Dave Richards did not have a great deal to do either, as calm defending combined with superb last-ditch tackles from Eddie Nolan and Nicky Hunt to keep him well protected.

It was the first time this term the previously-100% Dons had been shut out, and that's with captain George Ray still missing.

Only time will tell whether they can keep it up. Let's face it, being stingy at the back is not a familiar Crewe trait.

But if they can continue to be frugal, they won't need to lead the scoring charts to mount a challenge in League Two.

CAPTION(S):

Credit: Kevin Warburton

MK Dons sub Mattieu Baudry was shown a straight red card for this lunge at Crewe defender Harry Pickering

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Crewe Chronicle (Chester, England)
Date:Aug 19, 2018
Words:435
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