Alex youngsters beaten 2-1 by Burnley in development cup
A last minute winner from Burnley’s captain Alex Coleman gave the Clarets a 2-1 victory over the Crewe youngsters at the Alexandra Stadium in the FA Premier League Development Cup.
Crewe had led through a superbly taken goal from full-back James Ballie from a set piece corner routine but Burnley hit back with two second half goals from Ryan Noble and then the late winner from Coleman to end our participation in the newly devised Cup competition.
Crewe Alexandra’s Under-21 coach James Collins named a fairly strong side with the returning Harry Davis captain on the night against his home town club.
Davis has missed the last four weeks due to a knee injury but made a successful return this evening, partnering the experienced Mark Ellis in the centre of defence. Crewe’s other over-age player was striker AJ Leitch-Smith, who operated centrally of a three with Max Clayton and Fraser Murdock.
Other first teamers Liam Nolan and Jon Guthrie also featured.
Burnley had an early chance from a corner from Cameron Howieson but Jamie Frost couldn’t keep his effort down to test Ben Garratt.
Ryan Noble also an effort from long range that swerved away from troubling the Crewe goal after he had combined well with Jamie Frost.
Crewe’s best chance of the early exchanges fell to Murdock but he didn’t connect right in front of the goal and may have been in an offside position when the ball was crossed from the left.
Harry Davis stepped out of defence to try his luck with a shot from long range before AJ Leitch-Smith bravely went into a cross with Burnley’s goalkeeper Nick Liversedge, as he punched clear of danger.
Davis and Ellis recovered well to deny Noble a clear run at goal before Crewe took the lead on the stroke of the half an hour mark. It was a trademark corner routine that caught Burnley cold. Everyone expected the ball to be crossed into a congested area but Leitch-Smith cleverly pulled the ball back to the edge of the box for the right-back Ballie and his sweet shot gave Liversedge no chance. The move would have reminded Crewe fans of Luke Murphy’s opening goal at Wembley in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Final last season!
With players losing their footing in the wet conditions, Burnley tried to hit back before the half time break but Davis did well again to block a shot on the run from Noble and Howieson shot over from a late corner.
Crewe made a bright start to the second period with Leitch-Smith involved in most of our good things. The forward had an early good chance but the ball seemed to get stuck under his foot and his near post shot was well held by Liversedge. Leitch-Smith then so nearly back healed Clayton in on goal and he almost reached a dangerous cross at the far post.
Burnley began to impose themselves on the game and the fresh legs of Luke Gallagher certainly helped after he replaced Jamie Frost. A great move from the visitors resulted in Ellis having to clear superbly at the far post before Micah Evans came in at the far post and the Alex escaped as the ball zipped across the box from a corner.
Burnley deservedly drew level on 65 minutes with Noble’s excellent shot taking a slight deflection to deceive Garratt. The young goalkeeper may have got a touch on it but couldn’t prevent it hitting his top corner.
Almost immediately, Liam Nolan tried his luck from distance but again his shot was deflected but this time only for a corner. From the resultant corner, the stadium thought the acrobatic Billy Waters had given us the lead with an overhead kick but after beating the Burnley goalkeeper the alert Daniel Lafferty cleared it from the line.
Burnley began to get on top, certainly in midfield and the introduction of the fresh legs of Jason Gilchrist and then Luke Conlan meant they felt they could go on and win the match without the need for extra-time. Steven Hewitt shot over and Gallagher drilled another one just wide in the wet.
Harry Davis, who looked assured throughout also produced a super late tackle to deny Gilchrist a clear shot.
Crewe gave a late run out to trialist Kayne Woolery for Clayton but our chances in the closing stages were limited although Waters had a late surge that was saved at the near post.
Burnley finished strongly and after Gilchrist had shot straight at Garratt and Ellis had cut out a cross aimed for Noble, they won the tie in the final minute.
Garratt deserves great praise for making to fine stops to deny Burnley during a scramble but with Crewe unable to clear their lines sufficiently, Coleman punished them with a powerful late drive into the top corner.
Crewe: Garratt, Ballie, Guthrie, Davis, Ellis, Nolan, Waters, Jones, Clayton (Woolery), Leitch-Smith, Campbell