Crewe guilty of missed chances as they slip out of the Cheshire Senior Cup
Crewe Alexandra may have exited the Cheshire Senior Cup to Macclesfield Town this evening but the watching Steve Davis and his coaching staff would have been relatively pleased with the overall performance. The Alex certainly conjured up an array of decent chances and on another night could have won quite comfortably.
Anthony Stewart and Callum Saunders both hit the Macclesfield woodwork in the second half and the home goalkeeper Richie Branagan was certainly the busier but they took two of their chances with Wade Fairhurst tapping home early after a corner and Danny Rowe squeezing home a 73rd minute winner.
Brad Inman had equalised for Crewe after he had been played in by an accurate cross from Saunders on 31 minutes. Crewe just couldn't force home another equaliser to force extra time.
Macclesfield Town’s captain Paul Turnbull forced Liam Matthews into an early save from a direct free-kick. The goalkeeper did exceedingly well to get across and push it away for a fourth minute corner. Crewe didn’t defend the set-piece accordingly and after young Matthews had flung himself across the goal to save from Turnbull’s near post flick, Waide Fairhurst was left virtually unmarked to tap home from close range.
Callum Saunders was denied a clear run at goal by the onrushing Macclesfield goalkeeper Richie Branagan before the referee issued some early bookings for the Silkmen’s James Thorne and Crewe midfielder Liam Nolan.
A wicked delivery from a Chris Atkinson free-kick on the left hand side was crying out for a decisive touch but it just evaded the rushing Jon Guthrie at the far post.
Thorne troubled Anthony Stewart with his pace but after inching ahead of the Crewe centre-half he fired into the side netting.
Fairhurst fired wide of the mark before a moment of close control from Brad Inman saw him force Branagan into his first meaningful save of the first period. He saved well down to his near post.
Crewe began to get a firm grip on the possession as the half wore on and after Saunders had run in behind the Macclesfield back line, his low cross was perfectly guided home by Inman on 31 minutes.
The two Crewe forwards combined again five minutes later but this time it was Inman feeding the burst of Saunders. The striker’s clever run saw him break the offside trap but as he looked to take it beyond the Macclesfield Town keeper, the reaction of Branagan allowed him to get something on it and deny him a certain second goal for the Railwaymen.
Crewe finished the first half strongly but couldn’t conjure up another genuine chance to go in at the interval in front.
At the beginning of the second half, Waters appeared to be clipped but he tried to keep his balance and get a shot off, but he stumbled and Branagan was able to smother the chance and then react quickly to force the rebound away from Saunders. Macclesfield managed to smuggle the ball away from danger.
Stewart then headed inches over after Billy Waters had picked him superbly at the far post. His effort may have even grazed the top of the woodwork as it went over. The centre-half was then called upon to show his defensive qualities, cutting out a cross from Alex Cross as Thorne waited for an easy tap in behind him.
Crewe certainly looked the more likely side to score the next goal and after a promising run, Colclough had a low drive that was deflected behind for a corner. Nothing materialised from it.
Macclesfield made a couple of changes with Thorne and Turnbull making way for Barnes-Homer and Hunter. Colclough also completed just over an hour as part of his recovery and he was replaced by Charlie Kirk.
Kirk soon turned provider, swinging over a superb cross that Saunders headed down and too close to Branagan.
On 73 minutes, the home side regained the lead after Danny Rowe was played in behind the Crewe rearguard. Matthews got something on his close range shot but it had enough power to clip the post and go over the line for 2-1.
Crewe continued to press looking for an equaliser with Waters forcing the Macclesfield into another agile save before Inman shot straight at him after a forceful run from midfield. Saunders was then put clear by Kirk but his luckless night saw his effort hit the foot of the post and spin behind for a goalkick.
At the other end, Fairhurst clipped the top of the Crewe crossbar after good approach play from substitute Barnes-Homer.
Crewe continued to throw everything they could at the Macclesfield goal and the home side found it extremely difficult to break into the Crewe half of the pitch in the closing stages.
Saunders had a late chance but his shot was blocked by the covering Jack Disney. Macclesfield also had a late opportunity to make it 3-1 by Atkinson threw himself of a shot from Hunter to deny him.