Dugdale grabs friendly winner again...
Crewe Alexandra finished their pre-season campaign with a hard fought 1-0 win against Championship side Barnsley. Defender Adam Dugdale headed home an Ashley Westwood free-kick after 19 minutes to see Crewe promisingly unbeaten in pre-season. Of course, you can never read too much into warm up matches, but winning games is a good habit to have on the back of our 19-game unbeaten run.
Keith Hill’s Barnsley side certainly stepped up their performance in the second half but the Alex goalkeeper Alan Martin stood up well to the test and didn’t spill any of their long-range shots to keep a well deserved clean-sheets.
Steve Davis, once again, named a strong side ahead of this weekend’s season opener against Hartlepool United this weekend in the first round of the Capital One Cup. Abdul Osman shook off the slight knock he received at Tamworth on Saturday to partner Ashley Westwood in central midfield.
With AJ Leitch-Smith prepared to play through the pain barrier with a damaged toe, the in-form Mathias Pogba was tried in a wide area with Max Clayton partnering Leitch-Smith.
Clayton had an early chance from a clever pass from Ash Westwood but couldn’t quite direct his volley on target to test the Barnsley goalkeeper Ben Alnwick. The lively Mathias Pogba then glanced a header wide after good wing play from Byron Moore.
Pogba then burst through into the penalty area from a splendid cross field pass from Westwood but he was halted in his tracks just inside the six-yard box. Strangely the referee and his assistant pointed for a goal-kick indicating that the ball had brushed off the powerful striker before crossing the by-line.
Pogba’s work rate was exceptional, and he played the wide role with a real intent. He won the majority of his headers’ up against full-back Reuben Noble-Lazarus and held the ball up well for his team-mates.
Barnsley also played some neat football in around our box with Chris Dagnall and Tomasz Cywka lively without really getting in behind. Scott Hogan forced Alan Martin into his first noteworthy save before Crewe finally took the lead after 19 minutes.
Westwood, who was spraying the ball all around the pitch, delivered an inch perfect free-kick onto the head of Adam Dugdale and his powerful connection gave Alnwick little chance. It was Dugdale’s second goal of pre-season following his winner against Huddersfield.
Osman caught Noble-Lazarus late in a tackle as Barnsley began to impose themselves more on the game but Martin was hardly troubled in the Alex goal, mainly thanks to the unity of the Crewe back line.
The one scare of the first half came from a mistake when Alan Martin didn’t clear his lines quickly enough and Stephen Dawson curled his effort just over from a really tight angle.
The half ended with Clayton having a shot blocked from close range after Moore provided again from the left and the influential Westwood volleying a dangerous cross over the six-yard box that only needed a deft tough to make it 2-0 at the break.
At the half-time interval, Murphy was given another 45 minutes in place of Leitch-Smith. The fit-again midfielder, who completed his first 90 minutes of the summer at Tamworth at the weekend dragged an early shot wide of the mark. Crewe operated in a 4-3-3 to accommodate Murphy, Westwood and Osman in the same line-up but with Barnsley retaining possession a lot better they didn’t impose their passing range on the opposition as much as the first half.
Stephen Dawson shot straight at Martin before Hogan did likewise after some good approach play from Jordan Clark.
Murphy then appeared to be dragged down inside the penalty area, but the referee awarded a free-kick on the edge of the box instead. Harry Davis side-footed his effort a yard or so over the bar.
It was Barnsley testing the goalkeepers more with the vibrant Dawson asking Martin to hold onto a long-range effort and then full-back Bobby Hassell curling into the arms of the Alex keeper.
Murphy then found Moore with a wonderfully struck pass but Alnwich judged the winger’s attempted lob well enough.
Barnsley’s new recruit Tomasz Cywka then forced Martin to tip his low effort round the post and then Dagnall had him grabbing a low cross inside the six-yard box. Mark Ellis was then called upon to head away from under his own bar, as Crewe continued to keep out the Championship side.
Steve Davis then elected to rest Westwood for Ollie Turton in midfield and Pogba was also given a breather for Brendon Daniels. A snap tackle from Osman then set Moore free and after a step over from Clayton, his low shot was deflected behind for a corner.
Martin saved his best save of the night to deny a free-kick from Lee Collins after his effort had taken a deflection en route.
Moore was withdrawn for Andy White late on with Dugdale having a late chance from a Murphy free-kick but on this occasion, he could only glance his header just wide of the far post.
Crewe: Martin, Davis, Ellis, Dugdale, Robertson, Westwood (Turton), Osman, Moore (White), Leitch-Smith (Murphy), M. Clayton, Pogba
Barnsley: Alnwick, Hassell, Sonko, Collins, Noble-Lazarus, Clark, Dawson, Digby, Cywa, Dagnall, Hogan