Great solo goal from Kirk gives Crewe a deserved win.
Crewe Alexandra finalised their main pre-season preparations with a deserved 1-0 win at Wrexham’s Racecourse Ground. The in-form Charlie Kirk broke the deadlock on 74 minutes following a really positive solo run and finish. It proved to be the only goal of a fairly tight affair.
He had collected a splendid cross field pass from substitute Paul Green in his wide area and as he approached the Wrexham box, he only had one thing on his mind and that was to continue his terrific goalscoring form of late.
As expected, manager David Artell, named a strong starting XI again with Will Jaaskelainen getting the number one spot. Olly Finney came into the team for experienced midfielder Green.
It was a rather tentative start to the proceeding in North Wales with both sides getting a feel of the possession in slippy conditions. Chances were few and far between in the opening ten minutes but there was a caution for the Wrexham captain Shaun Pearson after some sustained dissent aimed at referee Alex Livesey saw no nonsense from the official.
Good work from Tom Lowery saw him square up to our former Academy graduate Mark Carrington inside the box and he waited patiently for the support to arrive in the form of Charlie Kirk but his attempted curler aimed for the far corner struck the in running Daniel Powell to send it behind for a goal kick.
From a Harry Pickering corner from the right hand side, Nicky Hunt met it but under pressure his header was cleared behind for another corner for the Railwaymen. On this occasion there was an infringement on the Wrexham goalkeeper Christian Dibble.
Crewe continued to look the more threatening side but some of our final balls were just too high or too close to Dibble and the Wrexham goalkeeper was equal to the crosses. Another good passing move from the Railwaymen saw Kirk find Finney and then onto Powell but his drilled shot was blocked at the far post by James Jennings.
On top in terms of possession, Crewe forced a number of corners, mainly from the right but Wrexham defended diligently and a constant wall of red shirts made it difficult for Crewe to penetrate.
Ten minutes before half time, Crewe alarmingly lost Nicky Hunt through injury. The centre-half had done superbly well to slide into a tackle to prevent Mark Harris from getting the other side of him. Hunt got the ball cleanly but over stretched in doing so and you could tell that the experienced defender was in agony. Hunt was eventually stretched off.
With Hunt’s exit, James Jones came on to replace him and Wintle moved to centre-half. His first port of call in his new position saw JJ Hooper shove him inside of the box and force Jaaskelainen into his first save. It should have been a foul because Hooper was over zealous with his challenge but the Crewe goalkeeper was not to know that and he pushed the ball out.
Due to Hunt’s injury, there was an extensive period of injury time. Harris fired a low shot into Crewe’s side netting and Finney was rather fortunate to see his diving defensive header clear the far post.
Crewe conjured up their best chance of the half with Kirk providing a teasing ball from the right hand side but Porter couldn’t quite reach it as he flew himself into it. Any sort of contact would have given the Railwaymen the lead at the break.
The second half started with Crewe dominating much of the possession but Wrexham’s defensive qualities made it difficult for us to break through. We were just lacking that decisive through ball or accuracy with crosses from both sides.
Wrexham were presented with the best chance of the game on 52 minutes after JJ Hooper was slipped in behind the Crewe backline. Jaaskelainen raced from his line to try and restrict the angle of the attacker and he seemed to do enough as the former Port Vale wastefully fired high over the crossbar. It was a good opportunity to break the deadlock in what was a tight friendly encounter.
Kirk curled one into the hands of Dibble after Lowery had pinched possession back for us off of Luke Summerfield. It was a straight forward collect for the Wrexham stopper - but Kirk was certainly looking the man most likely to score.
Moments later, Kirk lifted a pass into the Wrexham box and after it evaded the last defender, Finney found himself in a great position but he, like Hooper before him, lifted his shot wastefully off target.
The Crewe pressure continued and after Kirk then found Powell in enough space inside a crowded box, he drilled a shot goal wards but it was blocked close to the line by Summerfield and Lowery couldn’t quite direct his follow up shot on target.
With Crewe caught up the pitch, Jones took a booking for a tug on Harris as Wrexham threatened to launch a counter attack in our half of he pitch.
A goal bound effort from captain Ng struck Finney and deflected just wide of the right hand post as Crewe went in search of that opening goal with 20 minutes left.
An Ng foul on Bobby Grant close to the edge of the 18 yard box, allowed Summerfield to drill his free-kick on target but Jaaskelainen was equal to it. Moments later, the Wrexham substitute Leighton McIntosh fired a yard wide.
Crewe’s second change of the afternoon saw Green replace Finney in midfield.
The deadlock was finally broken on 74 minutes after a superb solo run and finish from Kirk. Green picked him out on the wing with a splendid pass and after he pulled it out of the sky, he had only one thing on his mind. He attacked the Wrexham defender Jake Lawlor, raced into the box, cut back to give himself an angle and he slid it perfectly past Dibble. It was a wonderful goal from Crewe’s most in-form man.
David Artell introduced Owen Dale for the hard working Powell. As the final minutes ticked away and Crewe looking fairly comfortable in protecting our lead, Jones fired just over with a good effort.
With Crewe aiming to add a second, Ng had a late venture up field but his firm shot was blocked.
Crewe: Jaaskelainen, Ng, Pickering, Hunt (Jones), Nolan, Lowery, Wintle, Finney (Green), Powell (Dale), Porter, Kirk
Watch highlights of the match for free below from YouTube