An early goal from our former striker Calvin Zola was enough to see Burton Albion through into round three of the FA Cup. Continuing on from our former players coming back to haunt us this season, Zola headed the only goal of the game in the fourth minute and although Crewe controlled much of the ball they just couldn’t find a way past a resilient Burton defence. Gary Rowett’s side dug in, rode their luck at times, hit the woodwork through a header from Abdul Osman and a post from Mathias Pogba, but that goal to force a replay at the Pirelli Stadium never came.
Steve Davis named an unchanged side for the fifth successive match for the visitor of Burton Albion in the FA Cup second round. The club’s loan signing from Newcastle United, Bradden Inman was again named on the substitutes’ bench.
Lee Bell returned to Gresty Road and captained the Burton side and Zola would certainly enjoy his return with the match winning moment.
Byron Moore had the first effort on goal but his shot was dealt with comfortably by Burton’s goalkeeper Dean Lyness.
Burton duly went up the other end and opened the scoring with their first genuine chance of the game. Jordan Chapell’s delivered a cross from the Crewe left and with Alan Martin electing to come for it, the Crewe goalkeeper just had to get it, missed it, and Calvin Zola was well placed to guide it home with his head. Martin had enough defenders around him to perhaps deal with the cross and he had to get something on his punch inside his six-yard box.
It was inevitable that another former Crewe player would score against us. It was a poor goal for Crewe to concede and yet again we were behind in the early stages. Our record of coming back is very good under Steve Davis, so there was no need to panic but for all our dominance we couldn't find an equaliser.
Crewe had two free-kicks from good positions that came to nothing with Harry Davis seeing his effort deflect off the wall and Gregor Robertson clearing the crossbar.
The Railwaymen had to step up the tempo and captain Luke Murphy and Matt Tootle were asking the most questions from the right hand side, linking with the effective Pogba. To try and get Moore into the game, he was switched over to the right and produced a telling cross that was turned onto his own woodwork by Damien McCroy. From a throw-in, Pogba then produced a great shot on the turn that seemed to be turned onto the post of Lyness.
Crewe were pressing looking for that equaliser before the break with Tootle producing a wonderful flick to find Aneke but his low cross was cleared before Lauri Dalla Valle would reach it.
Burton, were operating with the hard working Zola as the lone striker and he dragged a shot wide before he flicked Chris Palmer in on goal and Crewe had to rely on a good save from Martin. Robbie Weir also had a half volley that just dipped just wide.
Although Crewe were dominating much of the possession, Burton were certainly a threat on the counter-attack. With Anthony O’Connor forcing another save from a well-placed Martin. The half ended with Aneke having another shot deflected behind for a corner but Crewe needed to up their game to test Lyness more often.
There was a delay in re-starting the second half as a section of the floodlights went out. The game restarted after the club electrician managed to restore power. Crewe came out and again went on the front foot. Murphy had a great early effort again to try and lift the crowd, like he did against Colchester most recently. Aneke also had a low drive deflected behind for an early corner.
Crewe looked the more likely side to score, but Burton were defending their box extremely well and both Dalle Valle and Pogba were left frustrated in front of goal. After another free-kick from Murphy was cleared out of the box, Robertson nodded it back into a crowded area and Pogba, who had pulled the ball down superbly was unlucky to see his shot just clear the post.
Burton, although they were mostly camped in their own, did attack with purpose with Weir again shooting at Martin. Zola twisted and turned past Davis before shooting wide of the mark.