Young Alex impressively through to round five
Crewe Alexandra’s impressively progressed into round five of the FA Youth with a 5-0 victory over Bolton Wanderers. Winger Liam O’Neill put Crewe firmly in control of the tie with two first half strikes and it was virtually over as a contest when Bolton defender Alex Honeyball was sent-off for a professional foul on Callum Ainley and defender Toby Mullarkey confidently slotted home the resultant penalty.
The impressive Ainley deservedly notched home a fourth goal after a vibrant move involving George Cooper and Andre Brown before substitute Charlie Kirk played a delightful one-to-two with fellow sub Chris Speed to round off the scoring.
Crewe’s youth team will now take on either Arsenal or Royston Town in the next round.
O’Neill gave the young Alex the perfect start after just five minutes. Brown did superbly to race on to a pass from midfielder Oliver Finney and his instant cross found O’Neill, who shot downwards and past Turner for the opening goal.
Crewe’s early dominance continued and they could have added to that early lead. Cooper fired over the top after more unselfish play from his strike partner Brown and Ainley couldn't quite direct his far post header on target following an inch perfect cross from Cooper.
Bolton rarely registered a shot on Liam Matthews’ goal but Channing Campbell drilled a decent effort from distance a yard wide and the visitors' captain Kieran Nolan curled one into the gloves of the Crewe goalkeeper.
Another free kick from Cooper only needed a touch at the far post from Mullarkey before Ainley did wonderfully again to reach the six-yard box and cut the ball back for Cooper. His shot was superbly saved by Turner and O’Neill’s follow up was blocked on the line by Ivan Wassi.
Crewe finished the first half on top and deservedly converted that second goal just before the interval. Cooper was the provider from the left, producing a tempting cross that just deceived Turner and O’Neill timed his run to perfection to tap home his second goal.
As the second half kicked off, Cooper hit an early free-kick into the Bolton wall before Brown showed his power to hold off the intentions Honeyball and race through. He unselfishly looked for his team-mate Cooper rather than perhaps go for goal himself.
The game was over as a contest when Honeyball was dismissed for a professional foul as Ainely stole in front of the last defender following a flick on from Brown. Defender Mullarkey took the responsibility to make it 3-0 from the spot, giving Turner no chance of saving it.
The fourth goal just after the hour mark was arguably the best of a decent collection on the night. Mullarkey won possession back, deep in the Crewe half of the field and his snap pass into midfield found Cooper in a pocket of space. His quick turn onto the Bolton backline, allowed him to feed Brown, who showing great awareness to his right, saw the overlapping run of Ainley. Brown’s weighted pass allowed Ainley to guide his shot into the far corner with perfect precision. It was a superbly crafted team goal rounded out by a sublime finish.
Cooper came off for a rest with a first team game looming against Notts County on Saturday and Ainley was also replaced by Kirk with 18 minutes left.
O’Neill perhaps should have grabbed an individual hat-trick when he was played in one-one-one with Turner but on this occasion, the two-goal hero shot far too close to the Bolton goalkeeper. O’Neill also shot into the side netting after some fine approach play from captain Joe Kearns.
Kirk completed the scoring on 78 minutes. He started and finished the move when passing into Speed and after accepting an accurate return pass, Kirk clipped it past Turner, who despite getting something on the shot, couldn’t keep it out.
Bolton striker Jamie Thomas had a late opportunity to grab a consolation goal but he couldn't direct his header on target, if he had been able to it would certainly have called Matthews into action in order to protect that clean-sheet.