Two finely taken goals from Callum Saunders sees Crewe through in Youth Cup
Two superbly taken goals from Callum Saunders in the first half proved to be the difference in this FA Youth Cup tie. The lively Saunders intelligently got in behind the Coventry back four twice to score the decisive goals. He latched onto a bouncing ball to fire across goal to defeat Alex Gott in the Coventry goal after 23 minutes and then latched onto a through ball from Chris Speed to confidently slot home a second.
Crewe now take on Rochdale at Spotland in Round Two with the winners of that tie taking on Shrewsbury or Bristol Rovers away from home.
Captain James Jones nearly found the goal hero Saunders with an excellent through ball but with the wet condition, his pass zipped through to the Coventry City goalkeeper Alex Gott. Another flowing passing move from the Crewe youngsters drew warm applause from the 407 inside the Alexandra Stadium but on this occasion Fraser Murdoch was adjudged to have just strayed offside. It was a close decision.
Coventry’s towering centre-forward Courtney Baker-Richardson shot twice from distance but Crewe goalkeeper Robbie Johnson made no slip in the wet conditions and got his body behind both efforts.
were a threat from Jones’ corners and winger George Cooper was a bit unfortunate to see his far post shot blocked a yard from the line. Crewe
minute. The Sky Blues defence misjudged a long ball up the pitch and Saunders cleverly read the bounce to steal in behind. He confidently dispatched his shot across Gott, although the Coventry City goalkeeper did appear to get his hand to it. rdThe early pressure from the Alex youngsters finally paid off in the 23
Saunders always played on the shoulder and was unlucky not to beat Gott to a header across the box from Murdoch, but he did grab his second goal on 32 minutes after a fine passing move. Murdoch’s fancy flick found Chris Speed and his instant pass found Saunders in behind again and he confidently shot across goal again to put Crewe firmly in the driving seat in this Youth Cup tie.
Cooper went close again to turning in a Jones corner, before the visitors did begin to apply some late pressure in the first period. First, the left winger Jordan Shipley shot at Johnson via a deflection off of the boot of James Ballie.
Then the Coventry full-back Ryan Smith had the perfect opportunity to halve the deficit after he had broken the offside trap, but he shot inches wide on the turn and it was a let off for Crewe.
Saunders nearly completed a first half hat-trick as he tried to pinch a real poachers’ finish after Gott had to be alert to save a well struck shot from Murdoch, but credit to the Sky Blues keeper who grabbed it at the second attempt to deny him a simple poke home.
Murdock had an early header in the second half to settle the tie there and then and then Saunders arguably had his best chance to complete his treble after being found by the impressive Murdoch, but on this occasion he shot wide of the mark.
After Crewe’s early chances, Coventry certainly came into the game more and enjoyed their best spell of possession without really creating too many clear cut chances. Baker-Richardson again tried his luck from 30 yards but that was going to take something extra special to beat Johnson.
Coventry ignited some pace down the left flank with the introduction of Devon Kelly-Evans for Shipley. He had a couple of darting runs that forced corners but the Crewe defence stood firm throughout.
Coventry’s chances were few and far between and Crewe always looked likely to add to their tally. Ballie drew a good save from the busier Gott and Saunders was again denied a youth cup hat-trick after being flicked in by substitute Dom Smith. Gott did well again to rush from his line and narrow his angle to score and he made another decent stop.