A Lewis Reilly hat-trick helped to inspire Alex Morris' Crewe Alexandra Under 23 side to a 4-2 victory over Sheffield United in their first match of 2019.
They ended 2018 with a defeat after a superb eight-match unbeaten run, but soon found their stride again with all three points in a hugely entertaining game at Reaseheath.
Owen Dale was on the score-sheet too as the Alex held off a plucky young Blades side.
Reilly gave Crewe the lead with just five minutes on the clock. It was a fine jinking run down the left by Tommy Lowery that created the goal before the stood up a delicious left-footed cross for Reilly to power a header into the net from close range.
The Blades equalised on the 23 minute mark, midfielder Chiekh Ndiaye powering home a header of his own from a left-wing drive cross by Harry Boyes.
Poacher Reilly notched his second of the afternoon to restore the Alex's lead ten minutes shy of the break when he steered home from close range after the ball broke his way after Lowery was brought down by the goalkeeper following a low driven cross from the right.
Into the second period & the hat-trick was completed for Reilly on 56 minutes, the young striker turning home a loose ball left-footed from a corner at the back-post after a number of Alex players tried to bundle in.
Simeon Oure made it game-on for United by reducing the deficit to 3-2 on 75 minutes, powerfully lashing a shot past Dave Richards from just ten-yards.
But that hope for the Blades was extinguished just two minutes later by Owen Dale wrapping up the game for Crewe. Reilly almost had his fourth when he swept a low shot off the post, but Owen was on hand to rifle home the rebound from a tight angle.
Next up for Alex Morris' side is a Cheshire Senior Cup first round tie with Nantwich Town at the Alexandra Stadium this coming Wednesday (9 Jan). Kick-off is at 7:45pm & entry is priced at £5 adults & £1 concessions. Click here for details.