Crewe Alexandra ended their winless streak at the Alexandra Stadium with a fantastic 1-0 win over one of the promotion favourites Sheffield United.
Ryan Colclough who scored a tremendous last minute goal at Bramall Lane last season produced the goods again to fire the only goal of the game on 70 minutes.
Colclough, 20, showed great technique to volley home after a cross from Ollie Turton was cleared as far as him just inside the penalty area. It was his fourth goal of the season and got the Alexandra Stadium absolutely rocking.
Steve Davis made two changes to the side that lost 2-0 at Blackpool last weekend. The Crewe Alexandra manager reshuffled his attacking pack with Ryan Colclough and Callum Saunders recalled as we restructured into a 4-4-2 formation. Saunders was making his full league debut after his only previous start coming against Sheffield United last season in an FA Cup replay.
Harry Wilson dropped to the substitutes’ bench and Crewe Alexandra also lined up without Vice Captain David Fox, who suffered a back injury at Bloomfield Road.
Sheffield United started with great confidence and could have taken an early lead when their defender Neill Harris headed over from a corner when he had the goal at his mercy. They also created half chances with George Ray blocking superbly to deny Matt Done and Ben Nugent doing likewise to deny a firm shot from Jose Baxter.
Ben Garratt also collected a well struck shot from full-back Bob Harris after he caught a volley fairly sweet from a cleared corner.
After being on the back foot for the opening ten minutes or so, Crewe began to really grow into the game and the eventual match winner Ryan Colclough started to have more influence on the proceedings.
Colclough and King were involved in our first chance of the afternoon and it could well have resulted in the opening goal. The ball broke invitingly to Haber on the edge of the box but he drilled his shot wide of the target. It had opened up for him. Then, the hard working Saunders spun but couldn’t quite get a good connection on his shot on the turn.
Sheffield United continued to be a threat though and Garratt had to produce a fine save to push an effort away by Jose Baxter.
Colclough was comfortably Crewe’s biggest threat in the first half and after losing possession to Collins, he worked hard to get it back before shooting just wide. The referee could have pulled it back for a foul on the winger.
Crewe, who were beginning to dominate the ball, created another chance with a superb cross from king picking out Haber but he couldn’t control his headed attempt to get it on target.
Jones nearly slipped Saunders in behind again but his pass was just cut out by Basham before Turton was booked for persistent fouling.
Sheffield United also had Paul Coutts booked for a more reckless challenge on Jones. The Crewe players were incensed that Coutts had raised his studs and had left the floor but referee Graham only showed yellow.
As the first half drew to a close, Che Adams fired over the crossbar and Matt Done just couldn’t reach a cross from Flynn with his diving header. The excellent Nugent also was well placed to cut out a cross from Harris.
The second half started with the lively Saunders breaking the offside trap and after tricking his way into the box, his shot was blocked. He could have rolled the ball back to a supportive Inman - but it showed the confidence of the young Welshman who was searching for his first goal at senior level. Moments later he pulled a dangerous looking cross back that was just behind the onrushing Haber.
Adams was booked for a dive inside the Crewe penalty area before a free-kick from James Jones was just wide of the far post.
The tempo was excellent from the Alex with everyone putting a shift in. Haber was holding the ball up and winning his fair share of headers and Saunders was a willing runner in behind.
Colclough looked the most likely and he forced a smart save from Mark Howard down to his right hand side before Collins shot straight at Garratt. Turton pinched the ball off the foot of Billy Sharp in front of the Crewe goal as the Blades threatened to equalise.
Another good move from the Alex saw centre-half Nugent hit an accurate cross field pass over to Inman but his eventual shot was tamely at Howard.
The work ethic and pressurising from the Alex lads continued and after Garratt had pushed a shot away from Baxter, Crewe took the lead with 20 minutes remaining.
Captain Turton sent over a cross aimed at the run of Saunders but the ball was cleared into the air and Colclough set himself to volley past Howard. It was a superb strike and proved to the winner as Crewe battled on to keep the Blades out.
Saunders hit a shot wide of the mark after latching on to a flick on from Haber before Adkins made a double substitution with the towering Conor Sammon and midfielder Steffan Scougall coming on for Done and the booked Coutts.
Crewe also made a change with Stephen Kingsley replacing Inman to tighten up down the left hand side following Scougall's arrival. Saunders also came off to a standing ovation for his hard work. He was replaced by Atkinson.
In search of the equaliser, Sheffield United, began to go longer and look for the head of Sammon. Garratt came and punched two clear and when he didn’t quite make one, he had the excellent Ray there whacking it clear as Crewe saw the game out to claim a fantastic first home win of the season.