Crewe Alexandra picked up a home point against Shrewsbury Town after a hard fought ‘derby’ clash and arguably did enough in the second half to have deservedly picked up all three points. Bryon Moore fired Crewe into a 7th minute lead after a clever move involving AJ Leitch-Smith, but that was cancelled out by Shrews’ midfielder Luke Summerfield who headed home a cross from Marvin Morgan after the visitors broke quickly from our throw-in.
Crewe certainly had the better of the possession and chances in the second half but couldn’t quite force home that winner. The best chance saw substitute Nathan Ellington head against the Shrewsbury crossbar with his first touch in a Crewe shirt moments after he had replaced Max Clayton. Mathias Pogba also had a couple of long distance shots that just cleared Chris Weale’s crossbar and young Clayton forced the Shrewsbury goalkeeper into a smart save at his near post.
Steve Davis made one change from the Crewe Alexandra side that won 2-1 at Colchester United last weekend with Kelvin Mellor returning to the starting line-up at right-back in place of Matt Tootle. The club’s latest signing Nathan Ellington was named on the substitutes’ bench alongside a fit again Chuks Aneke.
Crewe Alexandra made a bright start with captain Luke Murphy having an early shot and Mathias Pogba having another early effort blocked.
After just seven minutes, Crewe opened the scoring. AJ Leitch-Smith dropped off into the number ‘10’ position to release Byron Moore into the penalty area and the winger tucked it just inside the post for the opening goal with a first time effort. It was Moore’s fourth goal of the season and his first since Leyton Orient away in January.
Crewe should have kicked off on from that point but credit to Graham Turner’s Shrewsbury side who picked themselves up from slipping behind. They always presented a major threat in the air with the likes of Yado Mambo, our former Academy youngster Tom Eaves and Marvin Morgan. Mambo headed a free-kick over the top of the Crewe crossbar and received a bang on his head for his troubles.
The pacy wide man Jon Taylor also fired straight at Steve Phillips after a forceful run through the heart of the Crewe defence.
Moore poked a ball through to Leitch-Smith and after a couple of step-overs, he made enough room to have a shot blocked on the edge of the penalty area.
Shrewsbury drew level on 28 minutes after breaking quickly from a Crewe throw in. The Shrews broke in numbers and Morgan picked out the advanced and unmarked Summerfield and he had the time and space to guide a header past a helpless Phillips.
The goal scorer Summerfield was booked for persistence fouling and another trip on Murphy was one too many for referee Gibbs. Harry Davis curled the resultant free-kick just wide.
A scrappy affair on a difficult surface in areas, still threw up some half chances. A run from the Shrewsbury captain Matt Richards gave full-back Joe Jacobson a sight at the Crewe goal but Phillips was well positioned to make a comfortable save.
A telling cross from Kelvin Mellor travelled across the pitch to his opposite number on the left but he couldn’t direct his header on target.
The first half ended with Ellis tripping Morgan right on the edge of the box, but Taylor could only thump the free-kick against the leg of Mellor.
Crewe Alexandra started the second half on the front foot. A short corner to Leitch-Smith had to be flicked away from an alert Weale. Murphy became more influential for the Railwaymen and his superb through ball found Leitch-Smith in enough space to allow him to turn and force another save from Weale. It lifted the crowd and from the resultant corner, Robertson’s decent delivery seemed to bounce off of Ellis and over.
Another visionary pass from Murphy was just ahead of Leitch-Smith, and the two forwards and Pogba were certainly more involved in the second period.
A wicked cross from Moore had to be cut out by Darren Jones just as Max Clayton was about to apply a telling touch and Pogba flicked another Murphy cross into the danger zone but Weale came confidently and collected it.
Graham Turner made a change with Dave McAllister making way for Steve McGinn as they tried to get a foothold in the game. Robertson had to be on hand to block a shot from the dangerous Taylor but it was still Crewe pressing forward and looking the more likely to score again.
Clayton turned sharply and had another effort blocked as Crewe continued to put pressure on the Shrewsbury back line, before Leitch-Smith curled a fantastic effort just wide. A clever lay-off from Clayton released Pogba and his shot just cleared the crossbar.
Shrewsbury were a threat on the break though and Eaves powered past Mellor to go one-on-one with Phillips. The Crewe goalkeeper stood tall to make a save with his legs and keep us level.
Another smart move involving Pogba created a chance for Murphy to have a shot but his 20-yard drive hit Leitch-Smith and drifted wide for a goal kick.
The most influential player on the pitch, Murphy curled one into the gloves of Weale and the other end, Phillips punched a Jacobsen free-kick clear of the six-yard box.
With just over 10 minutes remaining, Steve Davis made a double substitution with Ellington and Tootle replacing Clayton and Mellor.
Ellington’s arrival nearly had the perfect response. The experienced striker, 31, made his way into the box and got his head onto a chipped cross from Moore. His first touch hit the Shrewsbury crossbar and about summed up our afternoon. We did almost everything but score.
Another of Shrewsbury’s substitutes’ Rob Purdie thought he should have had a penalty when he appeared to be clipped by the retreating Robertson but it would have been awfully harsh on the Crewe left-back.
With time running out Pogba rifled another blistering shot just over before Shrewsbury arguably had the better of the chances in the dying minutes. First from a corner, Connor Goldson got free but headed back across goal instead of asking questions of Phillips and Ellis was able to clear before a late foot race between Taylor and Tootle saw the winger stood a yard wide. Phillips had it covered and let it drift past the post.