Crewe: Garratt, Turton (Ng, 64), Davis, Guthrie, Bakayogo, Jones, Hollands, Cooper, Kiwomya, Lowe (c), Dagnall (Udoh, 45)
Unused Subs: Richards, Nugent, Ainley, Lowery, Saunders
Goals: Jones (73)
Attendance: 2,880 (297 Crewe)
Crewe Alexandra and Cheltenham Town will both be in the hat for Monday’s draw for the second round of the FA Cup after sharing a 1-1 draw at Whaddon Road.
Despite going down to ten men on 36 minutes, Cheltenham took the lead in the 58th minute through our former forward Billy Waters. The home side had been reduced to ten men after Kyle Storer’s trailing arm had caught James Jones square in the face right in front of referee Michael Salisbury, but the Alex midfielder brushed off that incident to hit the equaliser on 73 minutes after he had raced onto a chipped pass from George Cooper.
Neither side could muster a late winner with Cooper probably going the closest for Crewe Alexandra with a deflected effort that went inches wide, so a replay will be needed on Tuesday 15th November to decide the winner of this tie. We will be number 38 in the draw which takes place on Monday evening.
Crewe Alexandra manager Steve Davis had the luxury of naming an unchanged side for our Emirates FA Cup first round tie at Cheltenham. There was an alteration on the substitutes’ bench though with Callum Saunders recalled ahead of midfielder Billy Bingham, who was not risked due a tight groin. Centre-half George Ray was also ruled out due to his problematic hip.
The former Crewe forward Billy Waters started for Gary Johnson’s side at Whaddon Road. Before kick-off both sets of supporters impeccably observed a minute of silence to mark those who have fallen in conflict.
In the opening minute of the game, the Cheltenham goalkeeper Russell Griffiths was rather fortunate not to be penalised for what looked to be a handling offence outside of the penalty area. Griffiths had been placed under pressure by the willing runner Ryan Lowe after Ollie Turton had clipped a longer ball forward. Strangely, the assistant referee penalised Lowe for what must have been kicking the ball from his grasp or a slight nudge.
Moments later, Cheltenham had their first sight of Ben Garratt’s goal but Danny Wright could not keep his shot down enough to trouble the Crewe number one.
Within the opening five minutes, Harry Davis was booked for a trip close to the by-line but following the free-kick from the Crewe right, the towering Harry Pell couldn’t keep his shot down in the second phase of play.
Some good early possession from the Railwaymen presented two openings for Cooper. The in-form winger had a shot from 25 yards blocked by the Cheltenham captain Aaron Downes and after keeping the ball in and around the Cheltenham penalty area, the winger fired low into the side-netting. James Jones also latched onto a loose ball after Kiwomya had gone into a challenge but he couldn’t get his shot on target.
Cheltenham responded by forcing a succession of corners, but after a period of head tennis, the ball eventually bounced through to Garratt. Their best effort from a set-play saw Downes reach a cross from James Dayton but Jones was well placed to head clear of the six yard box. Downes did likewise at the other end to block Jones’ superbly struck free-kick.
Dayton then had a firm shot from close to 20 yards out blocked by Zoumana Bakayogo. Both sides were being restricted to long range efforts.
Dayton created the first genuine chance of the game on 32 minutes, when his low cross was turned behind by Waters. The former Crewe striker protested that his shot had taken a deflection off the boot of his close friend Jon Guthrie but a goal kick was awarded.
Four minutes later, Cheltenham were reduced to ten men when their midfielder Kyle Storer foolishly swung his trailing arm into the face of James Jones. Referee Michael Salisbury deemed the offence intentional and ordered him from the pitch for violent conduct.
Cheltenham continued to be a threat from corners though and just before the half-time interval, Turton did exceedingly well to head a certain goal away from the line after Downes again got his head to a Dayton corner.
Crewe were forced into a change at the interval with Chris Dagnall being replaced by Daniel Udoh. Dagnall had been on the receiving end of a hefty tackle from behind that needed treatment and he failed to reappear for the second half. Cheltenham also made a change with Jack Munns replacing Jack Bartham for the second half.
Another early corner from the home side saw Rob Dickie meet it firmly with his head but it powerfully cleared the Crewe crossbar. Dayton also fired into the side netting as the home continued to press us further up the pitch.
A fantastic cross field pass from Cooper released Kiwomya on the left hand side in space. After using a decoy run from Bakayogo to cut back inside, his accurate pass found Lowe inside the Cheltenham box but his shot was too close to Griffiths.
On 58 minutes, Cheltenham took the lead. Crewe failed to deal with a long diagonal free-kick going into our penalty area and after Dickie was denied superbly by Garratt, Waters was on hand to tap home the rebound from close range.
On 64 minutes, Crewe made a change with Perry Ng replacing Turton at right-back. It looked like another untimely injury.
Another promising break from Kiwomya nearly saw the ball run through to Lowe and then Cooper but an excellent interception from Pell managed to get enough on it to take it through to Griffiths in the Cheltenham goal.
Crewe upped their game with a flowing move involving substitute Ng saw him release Cooper and his 25 yarder was deflected just wide of the target. Moments later Harry Davis went close to an equaliser with a great effort. It was better from the Alex.
With 17 minutes remaining, the equaliser came. Udoh did well to hold onto possession and he had the awareness to find Cooper in space. He clipped an inch perfect pass into the path of the advanced Jones and he arrowed an unstoppable shot past Griffiths. Cheltenham appealed for offside but Jones had timed his run to perfection to appear inside the box to score his third goal of the season.
Moments later, Udoh went close to reaching a dangerous cross from Cooper. Kiwomya then had a volley deflected into the side netting after Lowe had lifted a cross to the far post. From the resulting corner, Pell did well again to get a Davis header away from the line. As the minutes ticked away, it was concerted pressure from the Railwaymen.
In a rare break forward, Ng did excellently to deny Wright a clear shot at our goal and there was certainly not enough in it to award a penalty.
A couple of late changes for the home side saw Wright replaced by our former Academy Graduate Amari Morgan-Smith and Danny Whitehead come on for the hard working Dayton.
The battling home side sat in, stayed structured with their ten men and held on for a replay at Gresty Road.