Crewe slip to first pre-season defeat at the Moss Rose
Crewe Alexandra slipped to their first pre-season defeat at Moss Rose after Macclesfield Town striker Wade Fairhurst reacted quickest to a loose rebound to drill a shot past Ben Garratt after just seven minutes.
Before the only goal of the game was scored early on, Anthony Grant had drilled a powerful free-kick into a stubborn Macclesfield wall after Branagan had been rightly adjudged to have handled outside of the box as Mathias Pogba looked to pounce.
Fresh from signing his new two year contract, Chris Atkinson showed some real flashes of skill and purpose before he eventually ran out of stream and was replaced late on by Callum Saunders.
Crewe dominated the majority of the possession but just lacked that final piece of creativity in the final third of the pitch and goalkeeper Branagan was well protected in a 4-5-1 formation. It was difficult to break down effectively and although frustrated by our lack of genuine chances, you also had to credit Macclesfield for their work ethic and determination to keep a clean-sheet.
That diligent work was best demonstrated by blocks on shots from Pogba and the advanced Oliver Turton in the first half. Turton actually looked our most likely player to score and he forced the Macclesfield goalkeeper into his only meaningful save of the game when he pushed his well struck away from danger.
Crewe huffed and puffed but we were lacking that cutting edge. Captain Matt Tootle tried to inject some urgency with a forceful run and shot wide after he combined successfully with Pogba.
Anthony Grant was withdrawn after collecting a booking and being knocked unconscious for a brief period after a stray boot hit him on the head. Crewe’s medical team rightly took no chances and he was substituted for Liam Nolan.
There were periods of some encouraging football but also lapses of concentration and some stray passes hitting touch or the opposition. It was one of those nights to get it out of the system ahead of the new season.
Brad Inman had a great chance blocked by a super recovery tackle inside the six-yard box and Turton continued to break into the opposition penalty area as he threatened to level.
Vadaine Oliver did offer more of a threat in behind when he replaced trialist Sekajja but he was foiled twice from inside the penalty area and he failed to connect with an excellent delivery from young Nolan with the Macclesfield coming and then retreating for it. If Oliver had applied a touch it would have surely been an equaliser.
You would have also backed young Saunders late on after an Inman rebound was rolled across to him from fellow substitute John Johnston but on this occasion, the Welsh Under-21 International got over the shot to send it harmlessly over the crossbar.