Crewe Alexandra’s young men fought back twice to beat Ipswich Town in an entertaining 3-2 victory at Mornflake Stadium.
Mike Jackson’s side showed great character to come back from 1-0 and 2-1 down, with Connor Evans netting a typical striker’s hat-trick.
Today’s fixture also marked the return of Christopher Long from a long-term injury, completing 45 minutes in a pre-arranged agreement beforehand.
Crewe started the game brightest, and their first opportunity came after four minutes, Matus Holicek fizzed a ball low across the box and went just wide, causing a few problems for Ipswich goalkeeper Charlie Woods.
The visitors got their first glimpse of goal after seven minutes through Harry Barbrook, but his effort at the back post was rushed from a promising position.
After 13 minutes came the first goal for the Tractor Boys.
After Crewe failed to clear their lines, Osman Foyo picked up the ball and powered his effort into the back of the net from just outside the area, with Tom Booth unable to get a strong enough hand to prevent the ball from going in.
It didn’t take long for the Alex to equalise as they levelled the game on 17 minutes. Long was found well down the left, waited until he saw the opportunity to square it to Evans, who calmly slotted the ball into the bottom corner.
Neither side really challenged the goal for the next 10 minutes, though it was the visitors who had the next say in the affair, netting their second after 30 minutes.
Jack Manly found himself in acres of space down the right-hand side, checked back to find full-back Michael Lavin, who thundered his effort right into the top corner from inside the area.
It was nearly 2-2 10 minutes before half-time as the Alex worked a terrific move from one end of the field to another.
Booth gathered a cross and found Long with a long-distance kick. His touch with his chest was exquisite and played Finney down the left – his first-time cross was met excellently by Evans but couldn’t direct his header on target as it went just wide of the mark.
The Suffolk side went in ahead at the break and the Alex made a double change at half-time, with Long and Harvey Washington coming off for Lucas Sant and Rhys Alport.
It didn’t take long for the Alex to get back level at the start of the second half with Evans doubling his tally for the game.
Holicek did superbly to find Evans in the box, whose initial effort was blocked but recomposed himself to rifle the ball into the top corner, giving Woods in goal no chance of saving.
It was nearly 3-2 after 54 minutes as Owen Lunt and Evans hit the crossbar in consecutive attempts, with the former’s attempt an audacious volley from 15 yards out.
After dominating the ball for the majority of the second half and creating better chances, the Railwaymen took the lead for the first time on 70 minutes.
Holicek whipped in a corner to the back post, where Lunt directed it back across goal to find Evans, who couldn’t miss his header from close range to complete his hat-trick and put the Alex in front.
Lunt was unlucky not to get on the score sheet this afternoon, and on 77 minutes hit the frame of the goal for the second time, with his spectacular effort from 25-yards out unlucky not to find the net.
It was a comfortable final 10 minutes for the Alex, who looked more likely to grab a fourth than Ipswich snatching an equaliser and saw it out to clinch three points and return to winning ways.
Crewe Team: 1. Tom Booth (GK), 2. Sam Bhatti, 3. Charlie Finney (14. Nathan Robinson 78’), 4. Zak Kempster-Down (16. Jack Parry 78’), 5. Harvey Washington (15. Rhys Alport 45’), 6. Sean Lawton, 7. Christopher Long (C) (12. Lucas Sant 45’), 8. Owen Lunt, 9. Connor Evans, 10. Matus Holicek, 11. Ty Webster
Subs not used – 13. Jack Flint
Ipswich Team: 1. Charlie Woods, 2. Michael Lavin, 3. Harry Barbrook (12. Henry Curtis 62’), 4. Fin Barbrook, 5. Jesse Ayoola, 6. Osman Foyo, 7. Jack Manly, 8. Seth O’Neill, 9. Tommy Taylor, 10. Ryan Carr, 11. Leon Ayinde
Subs not used - 13. Danny Cullum (GK)
Attendance - TBC