Saunders free-kick sees a young Crewe share a draw with Kidsgrove.
Kidsgrove Athletic 1-1 Crewe
Crewe: Richards, Wilkinson, Woodcock, Finney,Ray, Wintle, Dale, Ainley, Saunders, Udoh, Pickering.
Lowery, Kirk, Lundstram, Johnson.Subs used:
A young Crewe Alexandra XI drew 1-1 in a competitive encounter at Kidsgrove Athletic.
Forward Callum Saunders scored his first goal in pre-season with a well struck free-kick from 30-yards that took a decisive deflection off the top of the Kidsgrove wall on 27 minutes.
The home side took an early lead when midfielder Dan Skelton broke through to poke Kidsgrove ahead after just six minutes.
Midfielder Callum Ainley fired over inside the first minute for the Railwaymen before Kidsgrove Athletic took the lead in the opening minutes. A flowing move down the Crewe left hand side resulted in Joe Woolley delivering a low cross into the six yard box and after taking a touch Dan Skelton poked it past a helpless Dave Richards for the opening goal.
Richards was soon called upon to deny the home skipper Ant Malbon with a decent save before Crewe began to create genuine chances of their own. The Polish goalkeeper Krystian Burzynski pushed away a firm effort from Saunders after a clever turn. The young Welshman also had a good effort deflected behind for a Crewe corner.
Saunders also struck a similar free-kick to his equalising goal but on this occasion, Burzynski was equal to it and shifted along to push it away from his top right hand corner.
It set for the marker for his equaliser though on 27 minutes after defender George Ray was tripped in an advanced position. Saunders stepped up again from 30 yards and showed great technique to hit the ball straight. It took a deflection off the top of the Kidsgrove wall to finally draw Crewe level on the night. It was a splendid strike to give Crewe a deserved equaliser.
Harry Pickering had a shot saved before the break before Richards made a one-handed save to push away a good strike from Tom Maddison.
Crewe made a couple of chances at the half time interval with Tom Lowery and Charlie Kirk replacing Ainley and youngster Ross Woodcock.
Saunders only needed to apply a firmer touch from a Lowery through ball to put Crewe ahead but it ran through to the Kidsgrove without too much trouble.
Crewe were just lacking that final pass in the final third and to their credit, Kidsgrove did force Richards into some fine saves. The former Crewe forward Harry Clayton drilled against the legs of the Crewe goalkeeper before he produced a stunning volley that went just wide. Clayton connected superbly with a long cross field pass from Tom Morris. It would have been some goal.
The home side also felt they should have a penalty when Ray seemed to ease Joe Wollley off the ball but referee Bennett waved away the strong appeals.
Crewe tried to grab a late winner, with Kirk drilling wide after a Finney corner had dropped invitingly to him on the edge of the penalty area. Daniel Udoh also had a late chance after being found by Kirk but his shot was blocked and spun out for a corner.