A headed goal from Luke Summerfield two minutes before half time proved to be the difference at the Greenhous Meadow, but how Crewe didn’t score remains a mystery. Granted a spirited Shrewsbury defence stood firm and goalkeeper Chris Weale acted as a sweeper on occasions to deny the runs of Lauri Dalle Valle, but it was one of those days where nothing really dropped for our strike force. I don’t think Crewe have delivered so many crosses into the opposition penalty area this season. The Alex left the ground starching their heads after dominating much of the possession.
It was the Shrews grabbing the only goal with Summerfield’s close range header coming after some good approach play from Marvin Morgan. Summerfield couldn’t realty miss and the goal came just minutes after Crewe should have been awarded a penalty after Lauri Dalle Valle had been pushed over at a free-kick as he was about to tuck home a knock down from Chuks Aneke.
Steve Davis named an unchanged side for the relatively short trip to Shrewsbury, but there was a return to the Crewe Alexandra squad for a fit-again Max Clayton.
The Shrews also named our former striker Luke Rodgers in their starting XI after he completed a short-term loan deal from Portsmouth.
Chuks Aneke had an early shot at goal blocked for Crewe before Mark Ellis had to manoeuvre Marvin Morgan away from a dangerous looking cross from full-back Jermaine Grandison. Morgan had looked favourite to reach it but Ellis used his body and experience to clear the danger for a throw-in.
In the opening five minutes, Crewe had to face a succession of Shrewsbury corners and striker Lauri Dalla Valle was booked for a catching Matt Richards with rather reckless tackle. There was also strong appeal for a penalty when Harry Davis and Luke Rodgers locked horns, but in fairness Rodgers never complained after being outmuscled by the Crewe central defender. There was nothing in it.
After Crewe had settled down into this derby encounter, a super deep cross from Byron Moore was met by Ellis at the far post and although his downward header was cleared, the Crewe captain Luke Murphy followed up with a well struck shot from 20 yards that had to be blocked.
Some more concerted pressure from the Alex saw a cross from Mathias Pogba just evade Dalla Valle and then the second ball wouldn’t sit down invitingly enough for Moore to strike it first time.
Moore showed real pace on 16 minutes to leave Grandison behind and somehow should have anticipated his six-yard cross. It only needed a tap-in but the Crewe forwards were caught a bit on their toes and the chance was lost.
With Crewe dominating the possession, Dalla Valle tried an ambitious overhead kick after Matt Tootle had reached the by-line before Aneke warmed the gloves of Chris Weale from 30 yards.
In what was becoming a rare attack for the home side, Morgan was lively to skip past a challenge and cross towards Rodgers but Harry Davis positioned himself superbly to clear. Moments later Morgan did trick his way past Davis but his cross-come-shot was well held by Alan Martin.
Morgan started to have more of an influence on the game with his running power and he had an another downward header from a corner grasped by Martin. Rodgers also shot wide from 25 yards out.
Pogba was producing similar at the other end of the pitch but after waltzing his way past Joe Jacobson, he should have shot instead of passing. Murphy’s follow up shot hit the shoulder of Darren Jones and deflected away.
On 38 minutes there was a genuine and strong appeal for a penalty for the Railwaymen when Dalla Valle was clearly bundled over as he tried to guide home a knock down from Aneke. There was no reason for the Crewe striker to go down into the back of the net with the goal at his mercy.
The referee looked across to his assistant but he had not raised his flag, much to the annoyance of the Crewe players and management. Their frustration intensified when Shrewsbury broke away and Murphy was booked for what looked like a clean tackle.
As an entertaining half drew to a close, Mark Wright had a shot deflected behind for a corner and Julian Bennett could only head straight at Martin.
Two minutes before the interval, the deadlock was finally broken after more good work from Morgan. He slipped the ball past Tootle to set himself for a cross and his inch perfect delivery allowed Luke Summerfield to race onto it to head past a helpless Martin. Crewe had failed to score when on top and went in at the break behind.
Crewe could have been behind within the first 60 seconds of the restart. Robertson surrendered possession too easily when trying to find Murphy and Rodgers latched onto the mistake. The busy forward slipped Morgan in behind the Crewe back line but he was denied in a one-on-one situation with Alan Martin. The Crewe goalkeeper did fantastically well to get part of his arm onto his shot and prevent a certain second goal.
Almost immediately Pogba had a shot deflected behind for corner and from Tootle’s cross, Chris Weale had to clear from the head of Aneke.
In a lively opening, Wright fired his shot just wide for the Shrews after move good work from Morgan. Dalle Valle then stole possession from Darren Jones to race in on goal from an acute angle but caught in two minds he didn’t either shoot nor pass and Weale raced out to smother the chance. Dalla Valle needed a period of treatment before he could resume.
Dalle Valle nearly raced onto a through ball from Aneke but the Shrewsbury goalkeeper read the situation well to race from his goal and clear before the Crewe striker could get it under his control.
With Crewe pressing forward, Robertson produced a top class cross that may have just missed Dalle Valle but the incoming Pogba got his head to it at the far post. Pogba though from a tight angle could only direct it into the side netting. It had been a decent chance to draw level.
A period of good possession then saw Moore and Aneke involved in creating half an opening for Dalle Valle but Weale was equal to his shot on the turn from the edge of the penalty area.
The game continued to ebb and flow, with Shrewsbury having their turn to appeal for a penalty when Ellis came out to block a shot. It would have been harsh if the referee had awarded a penalty for handball with the Crewe defender hardly using his arm intentionally.
With just over 20 minutes remaining, Max Clayton was readied for his return, and the youngster replaced the hard working Osman, as Crewe went all out for it. Aneke moved into a midfield role.
Clayton’s fist involvement saw him play a tidy give and go with Dalla Valle but he just ran out of room inside the box and Grandison was able to retreat and clear for a throw in. It was Crewe now doing all the pressing looking for the equaliser their work ethic and approach had deserved. Ellis had a good chance at the far post after being found by the head of Davis but he seemed to slip at the crucial moment and Weale did well to save with his legs.
Aneke was caught in possession to allow Rodgers to slip Wright in but again Martin was equal to it, diving to his left to save fairly comfortably.
Robertson produced another telling cross that found Dalle Valle and his touch so nearly fell to Clayton, but Darren Jones had read the danger to clear. In the follow up, Pogba had a firm drive blocked.
How Crewe had failed to score was anyone’s guess, especially when Clayton’s acrobatic effort from a corner when inches wide of Weale’s right hand post. It was turning into one of those days. With the frustrating growing, Tootle was booked for dissent.
With just over five minutes remaining, Brendon Daniels replaced Pogba. Rodgers made way for Aaron Wilding.
Crewe continued to swing crosses in, but that genuine chance never fell to a Crewe boot.