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Lee Bell says promotion-chasing Crewe in ‘confident place’ despite barren run

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 23 Mar 2024

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Lee Bell is confident Crewe can dig themselves out of a barren run after the Alex boss praised the character of players for shaking off an early blow to draw with AFC Wimbledon.

John Kymani-Gordon’s close-range finish saw the Dons take a second-minute lead at Gresty Road, but Bell’s men hit back through a fine finish from Rio Adebisi and went the closest to winning an evenly-matched contest.

Crewe’s push for the top three had stalled in recent weeks with three defeats in their last four fixtures and for large parts of this game they laboured to break down their visitors, who dropped out of the top seven following the draw.

However, Bell saw plenty to be positive about from his fifth-placed team.

He said: “The players showed real character to get back into the game. It was a poor start the players settled into the game really in what were difficult conditions.

“It was an extremely windy day, but I thought we played them (conditions) better. And the pitch is bone dry, so I credit the players for sticking to what we were trying to do rather than trying to smash the ball down the pitch.

“It was a good free-kick that got us back into it and a really good strike from Rio Adebisi, who has been not far off from exceptional this season.

“I thought we edged it and if there was going to be a winner it was more likely to be us. I certainly didn’t want to lose the game. League Two is evenly matched and it only needs one team to put a run together at this stage of the season.

“Our recent home record should be better, but we’ve still got a game in hand over one or two [play-of rivals] and we’re in a confident place.”

Crewe were caught napping when Gordon was in the right place to finish Jack Currie’s powerful surge into the box.

But the Dons were slumbering too when they allowed Lewis Leigh to find Adebisi on the edge of the box with a short free-kick and the defender rifled a effort into the far corner to level things up in the 13th minute.

The Dons were without leading scorer Omar Bugiel through international duty and although Gordon grabbed his first goal since arriving at Plough Lane on loan from Crystal Palace in January, the visitors hardly tested Crewe keeper Tom Booth.

The same could be said for the hosts. Substitute Chris Long, returning after a long injury lay-off, blasted a late effort at keeper Alex Bass. The closest Crewe came to a winner came saw Conor Thomas glance a header over at a corner.

Dons boss Johnnie Jackson said his side may need to be more expansive in their final six games to secure a play-off spot.

“Crewe is a tough place to come and it was a close game. I was pleased with the efforts of the players,” said Jackson. “We tried to win it and went for it.

“We looked threatening in the opening period, but Crewe grew into the game. I was disappointed with the goal as we switched off at a free-kick.

“We’ve got six games to go and the players are giving it absolutely everything. We have got to try and win games as draws aren’t going to be enough for us, although this was a good result for us.”

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