Beckford brace sees Bolton through after extra-time against spirited Crewe display
Championship side Bolton Wanderers will be in the hat for tomorrow’s Capital One Cup third round draw, but they had to work awfully hard to finally kill off a gallant Crewe Alexandra side, who took them to extra-time after scoring an equaliser deep into injury time.
Substitute Marcus Haber cancelled out Jermaine Beckett’s injury time goal in the 97th minute to take us through to an extra half an hour. It was the least Crewe Alexandra deserved for their efforts and overall we probably deserved to take through to spot-kicks on a thrilling night of cup football at Gresty Road.
Crewe had taken an early lead through Brad Inman after he had raced clear in under two minutes to curl an unstoppable shot past Andy Lonergan, but that was opening goal was cancelled out minutes before half time after Darren Pratley nodded home a Liam Feeney cross at the far post.
Bolton Wanderers looked to have won it through Beckford’s first goal on the night, when he volleyed home superbly in stoppage time, but Crewe fought back brilliantly again to level things up again with Haber in the right place at the right time again to head home Inman’s excellent delivery.
Beckford eventually won the tie in the 117th minute when he reached a long ball first to nudge it past Ben Garratt for the decisive goal on the night.
Crewe Alexandra made four changes to the side that lost at Swindon at the weekend. Midfielder Chris Atkinson came in for his first start for the club alongside the recalled Liam Nolan. Anthony Grant and Lee Molyneux were named on the substitutes’ bench as Steve Davis freshened up his starting eleven.
Forward Vadaine Oliver was recalled for his first start since Barnsley away in the previous round with Haber rested after he missed the majority of the pre-season. The other change saw Brad Inman recalled to the starting line-up and it didn’t take the former Newcastle youngster long to make his mark.
Inman gave the Railwaymen a dream start in this cup tie with the opening goal under two minutes. Jon Guthrie found the wide man with a splendid pass and Inman showed great pace to leave young Oscar Threlkeld trailing in his wake. He then cut inside to curl an unstoppable shot past the Bolton Wanderers goalkeeper Andy Lonergan from the edge of the 18-yard box. It was a fantastic finish and Inman’s second goal of the season only increased his confidence.
Inman tormented the Trotters with his pace and willingness to run directly at their back four. The Championship side were really struggling to contain him and the fluency from Crewe in their passing and movement was a joy to watch. Atkinson hit a shot just wide before Inman cut in again to whistle one just over the crossbar.
More inspiring, one touch football from Crewe saw Tootle find Ray with a cross and his knock down saw Turton volley a yard wide of the mark. Billy Waters also had an acrobatic effort blocked for a corner after another burst from the influential Inman.
With Crewe comfortably on top in the opening half an hour, George Ray planted a firm header against the woodwork from a Guthrie corner.
Vadaine Oliver also screwed a shot wide after more good approach play from Waters and Inman. Lonergan had made a save from Inman with his legs and Oliver just couldn’t turn his shot goalwards enough to make it 2-0 with the goal at his mercy.
In reply, forward Beckford hooked one wide of Garratt’s near post as Bolton began to impose themselves more on the proceedings. Ray had to be alert inside the six yard box to beat Beckford to a low cross from Feeney and Atkinson had to rush out to block a shot from Liam Trotter.
With the pacey Feeney on the left wing having more influence on the game, the visitors levelled on 41 minutes. His deep cross was nodded home by the advanced Pratley to make sure the two teams when in level at the interval.
The first half ended though with a fine piece of forward play from Oliver. He muscled his way back into possession before shooting across goal but Lonergan was alert enough to make the save close to his line.
The end-to-end encounter certainly continued to bubble in the second period. Inman’s pace continued to trouble the Bolton back line and an early chance presented itself to Billy Waters, but after bouncing around a crowded penalty area, he just couldn’t get his shot off and Mills was able to clear.
Bolton soon lost the injured Trotter and were forced to introduce Neil Danns. Beckford was being kept relatively quiet but he did manage to shoot straight at Garratt from just inside the Crewe box.
Some more flowing football from Crewe drew warm applause from the home crowd, as the ball was switched from one side of the pitch to the other before Oliver was eventually penalised for a foul on Matt Mills as the ball was placed inside the box.
Dougie Freedman, the Bolton boss, made a double switch with Joe Mason and Lee Chung-Yong replacing Conor Wilkinson and Chris Lester. Crewe changed their front man with Haber replacing Oliver, who had worked tirelessly throughout.
A tidy turn from the busy Waters saw him shoot over the crossbar before there was a lengthy and worrying stoppage after George Ray suffered a bad facial injury. He had to be replaced by Greg Leigh, who went to left back with Jon Guthrie switching to centre-half alongside Adam Dugdale.
More good approach play from Waters saw him cleverly flick possession into the path of Matt Tootle and he was unlucky to see his shot rise over the crossbar after a couple of step-overs had created some space on the edge of the penalty area.
The hard working Atkinson was replaced by the fresh legs of Grant and almost in his first real involvement he shot over after the ball had dropped invitingly into his path.
The game looked like settling into extra-time at 1-1 but in stoppage time, Beckford pounced on a loose ball inside the Crewe penalty area to lash home on the volley. It was a fantastic finish from the former Leeds, Everton and Leicester man as his genuine chances at goal had been limited by a good showing by Dugdale, Ray and later Guthrie. Garratt had no chance.
A spirited Crewe side fought back though to force extra-time. Due to the injury to Ray, there was eight minutes of injury time to be played and to their enormous credit the Railwaymen kept probing and levelled through Haber. Inman turned provider with a splendid cross and Haber nodded home his third of the season to force extra-time.
The extra half an hour, saw Dugdale clear the danger away from Beckford with a diving header before Haber was really unfortunate to see his shot on the turn hit the crossbar for a second time on the night. Waters also got one out of his feet to shoot just wide.
At the other end, Mason headed a Finney cross over the crossbar before Bolton took the lead for a second time in the 117th minute. A long, searching pass from Lee Chung-Yong allowed Beckford to react quickest between the Alex centre-backs and as Garratt came out to oppose him, he applied the delicate touch to touch it past him and it cruelly rolled into the unguarded net.
That proved to be the winning goal after an epic cup-tie but Crewe still kept going in the second period of extra-time to try and force a goal to take it though to penalties.
Liam Nolan had a shot blocked by Tim Ream on the edge of the box and Bolton’s captain Mills did superbly well to get across and cut out another dangerous cross from Man-of-the-Match Inman. Waters would have scored but his late lunge inside the six-yard box.
Beckford had a late effort for his hat-trick deflected behind for a corner, before Crewe last half chance saw Nolan poke a ball through to the lively Waters, but he didn’t have enough room to wriggle free and get a proper contact on his shot.