Lewis Reilly hits extra-time winner in tight affair.
Crewe Alexandra progressed to the second round of the Cheshire Senior Cup thanks to an extra-time winner from substitute Lewis Reilly. His fine finish past Paul Phillips arrived in the 9th minute of extra-time after he collected a pass from Daniel Udoh before dispatching it into the far corner.
Crewe were made to work hard for the result against a spirit Stalybridge Celtic side, who certainly tried to play the right way when in possession of the ball.
Steve Halford’s side will feel aggrieved too after an accurate lob from midfielder Darren McKnight looked to have crossed the line but the officials failed to confirm that it had crossed the line.
Crewe Alexandra lost defender Marcus Poscha early on through injury and he had to be replaced by Josh Lundstram and would later see Callum Ainley and Jamie Wilkinson stretched off.
Crewe’s first real chance of the evening came via a Harry Pickering free-kick. His curling effort from 20 yards was just wide of Paul Phillips' post.
Alex Morris’ side continued to dominate the possession and after a great run across the box, Owen Dale’s shot was blocked. Ryan Wintle then shot from distance but his effort lacked power to test Phillips.
A strong run from Callum Ainley had him drift past three challenges but his eventual shot was into the side netting after we was forced wide by Aaron Chalmers.
As the first half drew to a close, Wintle curled one into the gloves of the Stalybridge Celtic goalkeeper and Daniel Udoh was forced wide after threatening to get a shot off. His pull back could only find a Stalybridge defender inside the six-yard box.
Stalybridge continued to play football whenever they had periods of possession and their best effort of the first 45 minutes saw Kieran Dunbar hit a long distance effort just over David Richards’ crossbar.
Crewe started the second half on the front foot and Lundstrum had an early decent effort that threatened the goal.
The lively Dale lifted one over the crossbar and there were good openings for Udoh and Wintle that were not taken. Wintle also struck the bar with a terrific effort and that probably deserved to be the winner on the night.
Saying that though the visitors will feel that McKight’s effort from almost 40 yards should have been the decisive moment when his lob looked to have beaten Dave Richards in the Crewe goal. The Alex goalkeeper scrambled back to scoop it back but it did look as though it had crossed the line and the officials had missed it.
Crewe lost Ainley and Wilkinson through injury and after the departure of Poscha early on, we had to play on with ten men.
Stalybridge had a late chance to win the tie in normal time but their sub Daniel Wilkins dragged his shot inches wide of the far post.
In the first period of extra-time, Udoh shot into the legs of a defender after a strong run and he also drilled another effort just wide before he was involved in the only goal of the game. It was his pass that allowed Reilly to run into space and then guide his shot into the far corner of the net.
To their credit, the visitors pushed for an equaliser against the ten men of Crewe and Wilkins drew a good save from Richards and the Crewe goalkeeper saved well to deny Florian Da Silva in a one-on-one situation. Their last real opportunity saw defender Chalmers head over the bar as the minutes ticked away.
Ryan Wintle had a late chance to make it more comfortable after being played in by Udoh but his finish lacked the pace and conviction to cross the line and Kieran Dunbar was able to clear.