First half goals from Turton and Waters seal pre-season win
In-form midfielder Oliver Turton quickly ended Crewe’s mini barren spell in front of goal by converting Lee Molyneux’s superb through pass after just two minutes at Southport’s Merseyrail Community Stadium. Molyneux’s reverse pass was collected by the advanced Turton and he calmly slotted his shot into the far corner for Crewe’s first goal in three pre-season games.
After that early breakthrough, Crewe continued to press the ball and enjoy good possession. George Ray and the former Southport man Adam Dugdale were encouraged to pass from the back and the returning Anthony Grant was at his energetic best. He took some bumps and gave out a few as well after missing Saturday’s pre-season friendly against Wolverhampton Wanderers due to the head injury he sustained at Macclesfield this time last week.
Southport’s Charlie Joyce whipped an effort a yard wide of Ben Garratt’s left hand post and from a corner Smith went close to applying a decisive touch at the far post.
Crewe doubled their lead on 22 minutes. Molyneux was again involved with his powerful shot proving too difficult for the Southport goalkeeper Danny Hurst to hold and Billy Waters was well placed to side foot home the rebound from close range. There was an element of doubt surrounding the goal as the assistant referee had raised his flag presumably for offside, but after a brief consultation with the referee, the goal was rightly awarded.
Just minutes later, Waters went in search of his second goal of the game but his well struck shot was wide on this occasion.
With Crewe bossing the play and looking more of a menace in the final third of the pitch, a wonderfully played give-and-go between Molyneux and Oliver resulted in the Crewe wide man poking a shot just wide. Waters was rather unlucky not to stretch and reach it at the far post.
Birthday boy Jon Guthrie then just got over a bouncing ball at the far post as Crewe went in search of a third goal before the break.
To their credit though, Southport tried to pass their way through the Crewe rearguard whenever they the opportunity arose and Ben Garratt was called upon to make his first meaningful save when he had to stretch and get his fingertips to Smith’s super effort. It was a marvellous stop from the young Crewe goalkeeper.
With the half time whistle imminent, Oliver shot straight at the Southport goalkeeper and Turton had a shot blocked after a little layoff into his path from Molyneux.
Crewe continued where they left off in the first half by pressing the opposition high up the pitch and looking for the little runs of Molyneux and Waters to get in behind. Molyneux was alive again to reach the by-line and nearly cut it back for Oliver. Moments later, he played a splendid pass across goal that Waters just failed to apply a touch to. A dipping cross from Waters then had to be touched over by Hurst.
The home side got themselves back into the game as a contest on 63 minutes. Lively substitute Mica Evans showed great pace and power to hold off the intentions of Jon Guthrie before lifting his shot beyond the onrushing Garratt.
Almost immediately, Nolan tried his luck with a firm shot from 22 yards out but it dipped over.
The goal certainly injected some fresh zest into the Southport side and their best spell sees Evans head over from a corner.
A double substitution sees Molyneux and Waters make way for trialist John Gorman and George Cooper. Minutes later James Jones replaced Grant.
With Southport certainly enjoying their best spell of the game, James Baillie was introduced at full-back for Guthrie.
The flurry of substitutions continued with young Callum Saunders given a late run-out for Oliver. Saunders was quickly involved and after a trademark darting run in behind, his clever lay off is collected by James Jones. The midfielder didn’t hesitate to get his shot from 20 yards off and he was unfortunate to see it smack the Southport crossbar and rebound to safety.
Crewe had to survive two late corners to hold onto this pre-season victory against a spirited Southport side.