Crewe Alexandra exited the FA Cup this evening to a spirited Wycombe Wanderers side, who thoroughly deserved their 2-0 victory thanks to second half goals from Steven Craig via the penalty spot and a rare goal from centre-half Gary Doherty from a well worked corner.
The Railwaymen lacked creativity in the final third of the pitch and didn’t have enough efforts on goal to really test Matt Ingram in the Wycombe Wanderers goal.
Max Clayton, before he was stretched off with injury after a strong tackle from Marvin McCoy, did test Ingram in the first and substitute Brad Inman should have scored a lifeline in the final minute but it was not nearly enough in an FA Cup tie.
The Alex were booed off at the end and Wycombe thoroughly deserved their win and now they face Preston North End in round two.
Following Saturday’s 5-0 defeat at Brentford, Steve Davis made four changes to the starting line-up for this evening’s FA Cup replay against Wycombe Wanderers. The boss handed young goalkeeper his first start of the season ahead of Alan Martin. It was Garratt’s first appearance since the final game of last season against Walsall.
There was also a recall for Mark Ellis ahead of Adam Dugdale at centre-back. Abdul Osman returned as captain in central midfield and AJ Leitch-Smith partnered Max Clayton up front. Chuks Aneke and Bran Inman dropped to the substitutes’ bench as Steve Davis switched things round lining up in a 3-5-2 formation with Kelvin Mellor asked to push on down the right flank.
Crewe started the evening at a decent tempo and were displaying some sharp passing that drew applause from the home support, but we were just struggling to produce that little bit of extra quality in the final third. It was that final pass or cross.
Leitch-Smith turned an early cross into the gloves of the Wycombe goalkeeper Matt Ingram. The visiting goalkeeper did well to get down quickly onto the cross low inside his six yard box.
Wycombe’s early half chances fell to forward Matt McClure. He shot straight into the hands of the well placed Garratt and he then screwed a shot wide of the mark when put under pressure by the covering Harry Davis.
A dangerous looking corner from the Crewe right, then dropped invitingly at his feet, but on this occasion Ellis did well enough to get across and hook the danger away.
Crewe conjured up their first genuine attempt on goal just before the half an hour mark. Leitch-Smith and Clayton combined close to the Wycombe penalty area, and after the bounce dropped back to Clayton, his powerful snap shot forced Ingram into a save.
The tempo Crewe had introduced early on did drift away, but the home side weren’t totally to blame for that as the cup-tie was littered with stoppages and free-kicks. Josh Scowen was booked for persistent fouling after another foul on Grant.
As the first half drew to a fairly even close, the lively Paris Cowan-Hall raced past Moore and Guthrie, but Garratt did well to hold onto his shot at the second attempt.
Crewe, through the lively Evans did try and muster a late chance, via a well worked free-kick but Leitch-Smith saw his shot blocked on the edge of the penalty area.
Wycombe scored four minutes into the second half with young Garratt, perhaps reflecting his inexperience by after making a smart save stretching for a loose ball and bringing Craig down in the box.
Craig stepped up to side foot side past Garratt and the Choirboys had the lead. Crewe who needed to find an equaliser for the first time this season, lost Clayton through injury after a hefty but fair challenge from McCoy and he had to be replaced for Vadaine Oliver. The bigger striker certainly worked hard and had a late header saved by Ingram.
Although Crewe did have most of the possession, Wycombe continued to press when we had the ball, usually in packs of two or three and contained us well by defending their box well. Their tactics and work ethic paid dividends with the Alex struggling to penetrate with any real purpose.
Paris Cowan-Hall went close to heading in a second goal via a cross from the left before Doherty side footed home a well worked corner from close range. The former Tottenham and Norwich City defender was granted fair too much space inside the box and he was virtually alone to give Garratt no chance.
The second goal only added vigour to the Wycombe attack and with two goals to protect it became especially difficult for an Alex side that have struggled to come back from a deficit all season.
Scowen fired over after a strong run and Mellor did well to block a shot from Cowan-Hall. Garratt also produced a superb save to prevent Cowan-Hall from making it 3-0.
With frustrating growing, Evans was booked for a pull-back before Inman had our best chance of the game when he side footed a knock down from Leitch-Smith. Either side and it could have been an interesting last few minutes. Oliver also produced a late header that was grabbed by Ingram but Crewe just didn’t produce enough quality to make a real cup-tie of it.