Alex lose first pre-season game in final testChester 3-2 Crewe
Chester FC condemned Crewe Alex to a first pre-season defeat just a week before the curtain raiser against Port Vale at Gresty Road.
The Alex twice pegged the hosts back from losing positions with goals from Ollie Turton and George Cooper, but John Rooney’s spectacular early strike, Ross Hannah’s header and Tom Peers’ cool finish gave Chester the victory.
Steve Davis selected what could be considered his strongest possible XI of available players, with Ollie Turton filling in at left-back and first year pro Toby Mullarkey at centre-half with George Ray and Harry Davis missing through injury.
Chester started the game on flames as The Alex struggled to get to grips with their National League opponents.
They almost took the lead after just 50 seconds, Ross Hannah shooting from the edge of the area and forcing Ben Garratt into a diving save.
The pressure continued and was rewarded after four minutes when a peach of a strike from John Rooney gave the hosts the lead. Slightly to the left of goal, he curled a beaut from 25-yards into the top corner leaving Garratt with no chance.
The onslaught continued and Chester could’ve scored two more within a minute before the ten minute mark of the game. Defender Luke George put his free header wide from a corner and Hannah flashed his low driven effort wide after collecting Rooney’s masterful cross-field ball.
Against the run of play, The Alex equalised on 21 minutes with their best move of the half. Brad Inman had the nous to feed Lauri Dalla Valle, who slipped a ball through the defender’s left for makeshift left-back Ollie Turton to slide his low shot on the angle underneath the goalkeeper.
That was as good as it got in the first period for Crewe, with Mullarkey being mugged in possession by Hannah who ran through to fire wide and then Jordan Chapell forcing Garratt into two full stretch saves as the whistle neared.
The Alex back-line started the second period as nervously as they began the first and young defender Mullarkey almost gifted Chester the lead when his attempted header back to Garratt bounced off the crossbar.
Chester didn’t have to wait much longer to regain their lead, the Alex defence failing to deal with Ryan Higgins’ 57th minute cross and it was Hannah who got to the back post to head back across Garratt and into the bottom corner.
After a slow period in the game, Crewe appeared to step-up the urgency heading into the final 20 minutes, substitute Chris Atkinson curling an effort over the bar from 18-yards.
Two minutes later and Crewe were level, George Cooper smashing into the roof of the net from seven-yards with his first touch after coming on as a sub. Atkinson played across for Dalla Valle, whos shot hit the post but George was on hand for the rebound.
The scores weren’t level for long. Peeved by the Alex equaliser, Chester launched an attack and went 3-2 ahead just two minutes later, Tom Peers picking up the loose ball on the angle after the defence had failed to clear its lines – and he steered his half-volley low under Garratt.
Crewe tried to force a third leveller of the game as the clock ticked down, Cooper again going close after dancing round he Chester defence but his near post effort was well saved and the game ended 3-2.
Crewe: Garratt, Baillie, Mullarkey, Guthrie, Turton, Fox (Wintle, 86), Bingham, King (Atkinson, 67), Dalla Valle, Inman (Cooper, 75), Haber (Saunders, 75)
Unused Subs: Richards, Ng