Alex exit Senior Cup after disappointing show
Crewe Alexandra exited the Cheshire Senior Cup at the first round stage this evening as a well taken goal from winger Scott Harries gave Northwich Victoria a 1-0 win at Gresty Road.
In what was a disappointing first half display from the Railwaymen, it was our North West neighbours who looked the more threatening and deservedly went into the interval ahead after their number 9 Joe Bunney had tricked his way along the by-line to pull the ball back into a crowded penalty area. As the Alex struggled to get the ball away, the ball fell invitingly to Harries at the far post and he had the presence of mind to tuck it home for the only goal of the night.
On a cold night in South Cheshire, the playing surface had to be cleared of snow and pass a number of pitch inspection before referee Woodward deemed it playable.
Crewe Alexandra who had first team hopefuls such as AJ Leitch-Smith, Brandon Daniels and Michael West in the starting XI, struggled to produce any real chances of merit. West struck an early free-kick wide before he produced a far post cross that full-back Paris Bateman failed to connect with.
Northwich looked a threat when in attack with the lively Harries and Bunney forcing Ben Garratt into saves.
A purposeful run from Leitch-Smith saw him run across the box but he couldn’t generate enough power in his shot to trouble Steve Dickinson.
Kevin Leadbetter and Bunney forced Garratt into two more straight forward saves before a fairly even first period saw West volley wide of the mark and Harries gleefully take advantage of some poor defending to score what proved to be the only goal.
Crewe did come out in the second half and took more of a fight to the opposition with midfielders Ollie Turton and young Billy Waters trying hard to impose themselves more on the game.
The Vics had the first chance of the second half but after a promising run from Leadbetter, his eventual shot lacked the power to test Garratt fully.
Brendon Daniels had his best spell of the game early on, forcing Dickinson into his first meaningful saves of the night before Waters, slightly off balance pulled another shot wide of the mark. It was better from Crewe with West testing the Northwich goalkeeper with a good effort form 25 yards that he had to push behind for a corner.
Crewe were certainly enjoying more of the possession but after an early flurry, didn’t test the Northwich goalkeeper nearly enough for the remainder of the half. The best chance saw a deflected effort from Toby Appleton spill out to Harry Clayton, but he mis-hit his shot from close range. He was soon replaced for Brandon Moores.
Leitch-Smith tried to rush in on goal but seemed to be nudged into the snow behind the goal and after a forceful run from Waters that left substitute Conor Roberts in his wake, he delayed too long and didn’t get his shot off. The youngster was replaced by Liam Nolan.
Crewe huffed and puffed with first George Ray pushed up to offer some height and in the dying minutes he was joined by his fellow defender Jon Guthrie to see if we could force the tie into extra-time.
In truth, Northwich arguably created the better of the late chances, with their target man Joe Bunney dragging a late effort wide. Crewe’s last hope of extra-time saw Ray win a header, but Leitch-Smith have his half volley blocked.
Crewe: Garratt, Bateman, Appleton, Turton, Ray, Guthrie, Daniels, Waters (Nolan), Clayton (Moores), Leitch-Smith, West
Northwich: Dickinson, El Harrati, Mooney, Duggan, Mercer, Summerkill, Harries, Taylor, Bunney, Wisdom, Leadbetter