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13:13 17th July 2013

Alex secure away draw at Oldham

Oliver Turton scored his first senior goal for Crewe Alexandra to give Steve Davis’ side their first away point on the road. A draw was probably a fair result over a highly entertaining, open affair that saw both clubs hit the woodwork.

Crewe led at the half-time break after Turton’s deflected effort had found its way past a helpless Mark Oxley but the Latics drew level through Charlie MacDonald in the second half after he had reacted quickest to tuck home a lofted pass from James Dayton.

The Crewe defence were adamant that MacDonald had been caught offside but the assistant referee kept his flag down.

MacDonald fired Oldham level from close range, giving Steve Phillips on his 600th career appearance little chance of saving it.

Crewe Alexandra boss Steve Davis gave first starts of the new season to youngsters Jon Guthrie and Oliver Turton. Guthrie replaced the injured Gregor Robertson at left-back while Turton replaced Chuks Aneke in central midfield.

With Vadaine Oliver struggling with a dead leg, Max Clayton was recalled to the starting line-up following his brace against Sheffield United’s Under-21s on Monday. A fit again Byron Moore also returned to the starting line-up with Lee Molyenux dropping to the substitutes’ bench.

Ryan Colclough was passed fit after recently struggling with a hip complaint and after a couple of days of training, he returned to the Crewe Alexandra squad alongside Academy youngsters George Ray and Liam Nolan.  

The home side made a positive start to the proceedings forcing an early corner that was cleared by Turton at the near post. A James Wesolowski cross then took a deflection off the boot of Guthrie but the Crewe Alexandra goalkeeper Steve Phillips read the situation to collect it.

Crewe soon got into their stride and after some good approach play in the final third involving Turton and the overlapping Matt Tootle, the Oldham centre-half James Tarkowski remained calm enough to nod backwards into the gloves of his own goalkeeper Mark Oakley from within the six yard box.

After eight minutes a lovely move from Crewe saw Turton involved again in the initial build up and his pass found the feet of Max Clayton and he intelligently released Brad Inman into space inside the Oldham penalty area. At a stretch the former Newcastle man forced the Oldham goalkeeper into the first real save of the game.

Almost immediately, the Latics forced Phillips into his first save on his 600th career appearance with the veteran stopper pushing James Dayton’s shot from 25 yards away with purpose.

It was Crewe’s turn to apply the pressure in the opposition half and in a really engaging opening passage of play, Turton fired the Alex into a 12th minute lead. Tootle, who had been joining attacks whenever possible, clipped a clever ball into AJ Leitch-Smith on the edge of the box, and his skilful flick found Turton.

His instant shot was blocked but he sorted his feet out quickly to get another shot off and his deflected effort took a slight deflection to wrong foot Oxley. It was Turton’s first senior goal for the club and Crewe’s first League goal on the road this season.

It nearly became 2-0 just seconds later with Inman finding Clayton in behind the Oldham backline. Clayton’s cross-shot hit the legs of goalkeeper Oxley’s and looped into the air and after Leitch-Smith had applied some pressure, Byron Moore’s follow up header clipped the top of the crossbar and rebounded over.

Crewe had hardly had time to regroup after nearly doubling their lead before Oldham broke up the pitch to hit the post. Centre half Tarkowski did superbly well to ride three challenges to find winger Sidney Schmeltz and his cross picked out Charlie MacDonald at the far post and he was a touch unfortunate to see his drive hit the foot of the post.

It was a thoroughly entertaining and open game with both teams eager to play football the right way and pass their way through for openings. From a set piece corner though, Ellis headed an Leitch-Smith delivery over the bar from a really good position before Phillips stood up tall to deny Adam Rooney an equaliser.

MacDonald played in the former Swindon striker who went one-one-one with the Crewe stopper but he was foiled superbly by the legs of Phillips. Davis and Ellis at the back had hardly made any slip ups at all but were relieved to see Phillips pull out a goal-saving save to see Crewe go into the interval with the lead.

Oldham made a change at the break with Johnson Clarke-Harris replacing Rooney. Clarke-Harris quickly made his intentions known by flying into a tackle with Tootle before MacDonald was booked for catching Osman after he had played the ball forward.

Schmeltz forced an early corner off of Guthrie but Ellis did well to out jump Tarkowski. The Railwaymen also forced a couple of early corners but they were wasted and nothing came from them. Clayton was booked for sliding into a challenge on Jonathan Grounds right in front of the benches.

Oldham drew level after MacDonald broke the offside trap to fire through Phillips. The Alex defence glanced over to the assistant referee but he had his flag down and the goal stood. Crewe had cleared the initial danger but were caught a little flat footed after James Dayton had placed the ball back in but the positioning of the official was not the best. It will certainly be interesting to see it again on the DVD.

Phillips was called into action again to save smartly from a long rage effort from Mills. Tootle and Moore also did superbly to deny Oldham a counter-attacking goal after a shot from Turton was charged down. The Latics broke with six against our retreating two but Tootle did well to force Schmeltz wide and away from danger.

At the other end, Turton rode a tackle to put Inman in but his final shot was tame and it drifted harmlessly through to the gloves of Oxley.

A terrific cross from Moore only needed a touch from the on rushing Clayton at the near and Leitch-Smith at the far to see Crewe ahead for a second time. A second change from Lee Johnson saw Danny Philliskirk replace Dayton. MacDonald was also replaced by Kirk Millar.

Tootle’s visionary pass found Leitch-Smith inside the penalty area and he held up play intelligently to wait for Max Clayton to come around him. His little pass was collected by Clayton and after getting the ball out of his feet his curling effort had to be pushed away by Oxley. It was a decent effort.

Ryan Colclough was soon introduced for Leitch-Smith just before Ellis produced a timely challenge on the danger man Schmeltz on the edge of the box. Colclough soon forced Oxley into a good save after Guthrie had managed to keep a Moore free-kick alive at the far post.

Youngster Liam Nolan was also handed his professional debut replacing goal scorer Turton. Mellor also came on for Guthrie.

A break from Inman saw him release the supportive Tootle inside the box and his lifted cross had to be headed behind by Mills as Moore was coming in at the far post.

Genuine changes were few and far between in the final stages of the game at Boundary Park, but Crewe had their first away point of the season, something that would have left Steve Davis fairly satisfied.