Crewe Alexandra and Sheffield United will do it all again at Bramall Lane in a week-and-a-half’s-time after the deadlock remained unbroken in a cautious 0-0 draw in the FA Cup First Round at Gresty Road.
Steve Davis made two changes to the side that drew at Crawley last weekend, Anthony Grant returning from suspension and Marcus Haber in for the ineligible Danny Haynes and Febian Brandy.
The afternoon started as a tight affair, with Sheffield United the first side to go close on ten minutes. Jamie Murphy picked up the ball down the left flank and played in a low cross for Jose Baxter, who made a hash of his effort, but Ryan Flynn had an opportunity on the rebound that beat Ben Garratt, but not the covering Adam Dugdale on the line.
A floated corner found Greg Leigh on the edge of the box for the Alex on 36 minutes, but his right-footed effort drifted wide in what was the home side’s only real chance in the opening half.
Jamal Campbell-Ryce was sent through on the stroke of half-time, but off balance and with the presence of Dugdale, he sliced his shot well over the top.
Steve was first to change his hand at the break, bringing on youngster James Jones for his home debut in place of Chris Atkinson.
Harry Davis was booked on 51 minutes for bringing down Murphy in full-flight to halt a Blades attack in what was just a mis-timed challenge.
Jose Baxter missed a guilt-edge chance to fire the Blades ahead on 55 minutes. Campbell-Ryce had it fed to him by Michael Doyle inside the box, and he squared it for the forward for a simple chance from ten yards, but the striker stroked it wide with his instep.
The Blades were piling on the pressure, and two minutes later, had another great chance to level. Greg Leigh’s wayward pass allowed Louis Reed to slip in Campbell-Ryce, but rather than shoot one-on-one, he opted to round Garratt, but took a heavy touch and the chance fizzled out.
The visitors continued to press in search of the opener, and the supporters in the Whitby Morrison stand were up on their feet on 66 minutes when Murphy stroked past Garratt from Campbell-Ryce’s through ball, but the linesman’s flag was up for offside to cut the celebration short.
On the counter moments later, two Alex players making their home debuts combined to create a chance. James Baillie’s cross being volleyed at goal by Jones, but Howard saved well at his near post.
But that was brief respite from the Blade siege and substitute Stefan Scougall spookily almost broke the deadlock on 69 minutes, the exact minute that he himself scored in the 1-0 victory two weeks ago, but Garratt saved his scuffed effort well.
With nine minutes remaining, full-back Bob Harris struck the Alex crossbar after Campbell-Ryce found him with the pull-back, and that was that as both sides realised the deadlock would remain unbroken, despite Ollie Turton sending an effort fizzing wide in the last minute.