Crewe Alexandra midfielder Adam King netted his fourth goal of the season within the first 60 seconds at the Greenhous Meadow and his tidy finish proved to be the only goal of the game to give the Railwaymen their first three points of the season.
The on-loan King pounced on a mistake by the Shrewsbury defender Jermaine Grandison to fire low into the bottom corner and although we had to ride our luck on one or two occasion a real defensive rearguard action helped us achieve that elusive first victory.
The Shrews hit the top of the crossbar through Jordan Clark in the first half and we needed a really strong hand from Ben Garratt to keep out a decent effort from Larnell Cole in the second half, but the Alex stood firm to achieve that morale boosting win.
Steve Davis kept faith with his entire 18-man squad for the trip to Shropshire which meant that forward Marcus Haber had to settle for a place on the substitutes’ bench with the Finn Lauri Dalla Valle again starting. The on loan winger Harry Wilson was also named on the bench alongside George Cooper.
Shrewsbury named our former defenders Matt Tootle and Mark Ellis in their starting line-up. It was the first occasion that both players lined up against their former club.
Crewe Alexandra made a dream start to the game with Adam King driving the Railwaymen ahead within the opening 60 seconds. Dalla Valle applied some early pressure on Jermaine Grandison as he tried to bring the ball out from the back and he nicked possession from him as he appeared to stumble on it some 35 yards from goal. The supportive King picked the ball up and although he had option either side of him, he elected to go himself and he chose the right option as his low drive flew past Jayson Leutwiler for his fourth goal of the season.
A positive start from the Alex then saw the tricky Ryan Colclough win a free-kick on the edge of the Shrewsbury penalty area. David Fox’s delivery was cleared to the edge of the box and a snap shot from Brad Inman was a yard wide of the target.
Shrewsbury’s first real attack of the game came in the 10th minute and involved our former captain Matt Tootle. Playing at right wing-back he provided a cross for Larnell Cole and he swiftly spun to get a shot off but the alert Ben Garratt was equal to it.
Another flowing passing move from Crewe saw the ball moved across the Shrewsbury box with real purpose and Inman’s final through ball allowed Chris Atkinson to get his shot ahead of Tootle but Leutwiler was well placed to make the stop.
On 15 minutes, Crewe had an almighty let off after we failed to clear our lines sufficiently. There did not appear to be any danger as the Alex were in possession but after Tootle had won a headed clearance from just inside our half, we were left awfully exposed at the back. In too much space, Tyrone Barnett quickly fed Jordan Clark coming in from the Crewe right hand side and he was one-on-one with Garratt but his shot hit the top of the crossbar.
With Shrewsbury beginning to apply some concerted pressure, Clark then produced some sublime skill to clip a dangerous cross over into the six-yard box but under pressure from captain Harry Davis, the midfielder Abu Ogogo couldn’t keep his header down enough to trouble Garratt.
The home side continued to try and get the ball into our penalty area as often as they could and Garratt had to make a save to deny Mat Sadler from distance after Tootle had switched play with an accurate delivery from the right and then Nugent was called upon to deny Tyrone Barnett a clear shot at goal with a last ditch challenge.
Crewe were finding it difficult to retain possession in the Shrewsbury half of the pitch and Dalla Valle was operating on scraps as the lone striker. Even when he was being fouled, he wasn’t getting them!
With the first half drawing to the close, Clark turned against to fire straight at Garratt. On the counter attack, Colclough then found Inman wide left and his dangerous delivery was cleared by Grandison, just as Dalla Valle was about to apply a decisive touch.
In stoppage time, Inman showed great pace to virtually run the length of the pitch down the left hand side and he kept his composed to roll the ball into the supportive Colclough, but instead of shooting first time or passing it along to King, he had a touch and was shut down by Tootle. The chance was lost.
Crewe were forced to make a change at the interval with Jon Guthrie replacing Brad Inman as we tactically match them up with three centre-halves in a 3-5-2 formation.
In the opening minute of the second half, the Shrews were on the front foot and Crewe needed their captain Harry Davis to keep his composure to pinch possession from Cole, as he looked to go through on our goal.
Clark was then felled on the edge of the penalty by Turton but Lawrence’s free-kick was punched clear of danger. When the ball was returned into a crowded Crewe penalty area, Ellis won his header at the far post but Nugent was well positioned to clear.
Crewe goalkeeper Ben Garratt was booked for time wasting but that to do with more about the crowd influencing the official than anything else.
Ten minutes into the second half, Steve Davis made his second change George Ray replacing the injured Nugent, who had picked up one or knocks throughout the game. Shrewsbury boss Micky Mellon also made a change with Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro coming on for Barnett.
Dalla Valle seized onto another mistake by Grandison but on this occasion, the alert Ellis made a firm challenge to prevent him from getting a shot off at the death. Ellis got enough on it to send it behind for a corner.
The manager’s final change saw Haber come on for the hard working Dalla Valle. The Shrews also introduced their new loan signing from Crystal Palace Sullay for Sadler.
The Shrewsbury captain Lawrence curled a shot into the gloves of Garratt from just inside the box with Haber doing well enough to put the former Stoke midfielder under some sort of pressure.
On 72 minutes, the Shrewsbury-born Garratt produced a fantastic save to get a strong hand to a low shot from Cole. The Crewe goalkeeper got down well to turn it behind for a corner and he then claimed that as well as Ellis headed into the air at the far post.
Shrewsbury’s final substitution saw James Collins replace Agogo as Micky Mellon’s side went for broke in the final 15 minutes or so.
Crewe remained organized and resolute in their defending and continued to protect Garratt, although Kaikai was a threat with his pace and tricks.
With seven minutes left on the clock, a fantastic break from Chris Atkinson saw the midfielder produce an excellent cross for Haber but the Canadian International couldn’t direct his header on target. You would have backed the Crewe target man to have at least made Leutwiler work or better still to have secured the three points there and then.
Shrewsbury continued to push on trying to find an equaliser and had another six minutes of stoppage time to find it. Collins headed wide deep in stoppage time but the Alex stood strong and it was a great win.