Crewe: Garratt, Turton, Ray, Guthrie, Bakayogo, Wintle (Lowery, 79), Bingham, Ainley (Kirk, 61), Cooper, Dagnall, Udoh (Lowe, 69)
Unused Subs: Richards, Ng, Finney, Hollands
Goals: Dagnall (68), Lowe (82)
Attendance: 963 (60)
Crewe Alexandra somehow lost a thrilling Checkatrade Trophy tie 3-2 to Wolverhampton Wanderers after fighting back superbly from two goals down at half time before losing to a defensive mix-up between Ben Garratt and Jon Guthrie led to a simple winner from Bright Enobakhare.
Second half goals from experienced strikers Chris Dagnall and substitute Ryan Lowe saw the Railwaymen deservedly fight back and in truth we looked the more likely side to go on and win the tie in the closing stages, but it was Wolves claiming all the points after Enobakhare took full advantage of our defensive lapse. It was extremely harsh on Crewe, who also had late goals chalked off for offside. The second from Lowe was clearly onside as well.
As expected, Steve Davis favoured to utilise his squad for the visit of Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Checkatrade Trophy northern section. With James Jones away on International duty with Scotland Under-21s, the Crewe Alexandra boss handed a first start to the season to youngster Ryan Wintle in midfield. Wintle was handed an opportunity alongside Billy Bingham, who also started for the first time since the 2-0 loss at Cheltenham. Danny Hollands was rested.
With Ryan Lowe again rested this competition, Daniel Udoh started for the first time since last season’s local derby at Port Vale to partner Chris Dagnall, who captained the team this evening. Lowe was named on the substitutes’ bench alongside youngsters Tommy Lowery and Ollie Finney.
George Ray replaced Harry Davis in the centre of defence after coming on for the same player in the second half against Mansfield Town at the weekend.
Wolverhampton Wanderers, led by their development coach Scott Sellars named a selection of their first team players to strengthen their Under-21 contingent. George Saville, Jed Wallace, Nouha Dicko all started the Group B encounter at the Alexandra Stadium. The experienced goalkeeper Andy Longergan, 32, also started behind a back four that also contained the former Atletico Madrid defender Silvio Pereira.
Although Crewe had the lion’s share of the early possession, the visitors were always sharp on the counter attack and they utilised the pace of Nouha Dicko as early as the 7th minute to take the lead. Dicko, who is returning from a long term injury raced through onto a long ball to fire powerfully past Ben Garratt. The covering defender Ray couldn’t get across to block the space and Dicko punished us.
Crewe soon settled from the early set-back and young Cooper tried to make things happen. He hit over a wicked cross that only needed a decisive touch and he hit two searching passes for Turton and one through the middle looking for Dagnall.
Wolves were a threat on the counter-attack and Ray did well to slide and cut out a low cross destined for the well placed Will Randall.
On 23 minutes, Crewe’s best move of the first half should have resulted in an equaliser for the Railwaymen. Callum Ainley spun away from attention in the initial build up and after Cooper and Turton had combined down the right hand side, the ball fell invitingly to Dagnall but his close range effort struck his strike partner Udoh and deflected wide. It was unlucky.
Another really promising break from the Alex saw Cooper win possession from Saville and he fond Dagnall in a wide position. His cross was reversed back to Cooper but after he missed his kick, the chance fell to Ainley at the far post but the youngster failed to hit the target on the follow up. It was a wonderful change to draw level and Ainley would have been disappointed not to force Lonergan into his first meaningful save of the night.
Udoh spun and dragged a shot wide before Randall struck over at the other end after another break from the lively Dicko. Jed Wallace also delivered a really dangerous cross to the far post that only needed a nudge to worry Garratt.
In the final minute of the half, Turton conceded a free-kick on the edge of the Crewe box and Garratt had to shift his feet quickly to tip over a dangerous shot from Jed Wallace. As the half entered stoppage time, from the resultant corner, taken from Wallace from the Crewe right, Dicko found far too much space inside a crowded penalty area and he cheekily back healed it past Garratt. It was a blow to go into the interval 2-0 down with the final touch of the first half.
Crewe were up against it but made it a really entertaining second half. It was end to end to stuff. Cooper, who was arguably Crewe’s top performer chipped an early effort onto the roof of the netting and he had another fine effort go just wide after good work from Udoh. It flashed just past the post.
The impressive Enobakhare was an immense handful with his forceful runs and after blistering past the Alex defence he was awfully unlucky to see his shot rebound off the post. It was a wonderful run that drew applause from both sets of fans.
Crewe made a change with Ainley being replaced by Kirk. Ahead of Steve Davis’ second change, Dagnall rode the challenge of the advanced keeper Andy Longergan and with the referee playing a good advantage, the Crewe striker stumbled through and guided the ball into an unguarded net. It was Dagnall’s fifth goal of the season and follows on from his goal against Mansfield on Saturday.
With Crewe back in the tie, Lowe replaced Udoh moments later.
The powerful Enobakhare was denied twice by Garratt at the death. The Crewe goalkeeper had to dive twice at his feet after his brilliant surges into the box. The Crewe goalkeeper also made a stunning double save to deny Saville and then Wallace in the follow up. It kept Crewe in the tie.
Young Tommy Lowery injected some spring into the final third as Crewe went for the throat. The busier Longergan made another fine save to save a Dagnall header after a clipped ball from Kirk.
Lowe levelled things up after another excellent pass from Cooper to Dagnall. The striker took the initial pass on his chest and the ball fell to winger Kirk, who’s instant pull back found Lowe and he confidently stroked it home for his 6th goal of the season.
Lowe then had an excellent header tipped over and Longergan somehow denied Bakayogo from close range after the left-back went for the near post instead of firing into the unguarded other part of the goal. It was a big miss at a crucial time to win it.
Crewe looked the more likely side to win the contest. Kirk had a goal chalked off for offside after Lowery found him with a splendid cross and Lowe wrongly had one ruled out after Cooper had again produced an accurate pass to put him through. The fourth official got it wrong, Lowe was onside when the ball was played and he finished confidently off the post.
The goal Crewe conceded to lose it was so disappointing. A long ball caught Guthrie and Garratt in two minds and after Enobakhare had given the Crewe defender a slight nudge in the back, Guthrie took it past his own rushing goalkeeper but before he could clear the danger, Enobakhare poked it into the empty net ahead of the defender in the 88th minute. All the hard work to get back into the game was undone by a misunderstanding.