Disaster in the FA Cup for The Alex at Gresty Road
The Emirates FA Cup First Round
Crewe 0-1 Eastleigh
Crewe: Garratt, Turton, Ray, Nugent, Guthrie (Dalla Valle, 84), Jones, King, Inman, Colclough (Cooper, 35) (Nizic, 62), Haber, Saunders
Unused Subs: Atkinson, Kingsley, Bingham, Baillie
Crewe Alexandra crashed out of the FA Cup in the First Round for the sixth time in the last seven seasons as Vanarama National League side Eastleigh came out 1-0 victors at Gresty Road.
Ben Strevens slotted home the crucial penalty in the 75th minute after sub keeper Danijel Nizic pulled down Ross Lafayette in the area.
Regular Alex keeper Ben Garratt had earlier been sent off after he took down Yemi Odubade outside the box.
Steve Davis kept faith with the same XI that beat Sheffield United a week ago and that looked a good decision early on as The Alex took the game to Eastleigh.
Callum Saunders’ attempted lob was saved by keeper Ross Flitney inside three minutes and Marcus Haber headed straight at the keeper just moments later.
More chances followed for Crewe inside the opening ten minutes Inman having a shot deflected wide before Ben Nugent headed the resultant corner wide.
That was the best it got for the Alex as the visitors grew into the game and went close to opening the scoring on the stroke of half-time, James Constable finding Odubade but Garratt did well to make himself big to make the save.
Just before that, The Alex should’ve been given a stone-wall penalty and Dan Harding should’ve been sent off. The full-back made a perfectly timed tackle on Inman to clear, but then inexplicably swiped the Aussie’s legs from under him inside the box after the ball had long-gone.
Into the second period and disaster struck just after the hour mark. A long ball forward caught Garratt in two-minds, he eventually game out but Odubade got their first and the goalkeeper was subsequently red-carded for felling the striker despite Ben Nugent offering cover.
First-half sub George Cooper made way for substitute goalkeeper Nizic but it was a moment to forget on 74 minutes for the youngster when he took Lafayette’s legs out with his outstretched arms to hand Eastleigh a penalty kick.
Experienced campaigner Ben Strevens stepped up to send slide home, send Nizic the wrong way and put one foot into the next round.
The ten men of Crewe tried to push on but Odubade almost made the game safe with a volley, the Alex’s best efforts came when Inman’s effort was cleared off the line and Dalla Valle’s header was saved at the near post, but it was one of those afternoons for The Alex and The Spitfires progressed to Round Two.