Alex stroll to victory against Eagles at Gresty Road
Crewe Alexandra Under 23's outclassed a young Crystal Palace side by a 3-0 margin on a sun-kissed afternoon at The Alexandra Stadium.
Callum Saunders, Callum Ainley & Ryan Wintle netted the goals as Alex Morris' side kept their play-off push on track.
In a cagey opening 20 minutes, Crewe created the first opportunity as Perry Ng beat goalkeeper Kleton Perntreou to Oli Finney's free-kick to glance a header narrowly wide of the target.
That first opportunity seemed to free-up the hosts, Saunders netted the opening goal on the 21 minute mark, firing in first time from a couple of yards out after the lively Owen Dale got to the right by-line & thumped over a low cross.
Ainley almost doubled the lead on the half-hour, curling a beaut of a shot from distance that Perntreou had to spring to his left to parry away & Dan Udoh couldn't steer home the rebound.
Ainley wasn't to be denied five minutes in the second-half however. He picked up the ball just inside the Palace half & drove on goal, with the defenders backing off & he thumped a sweet effort into the bottom corner from 25-yards to leave the goalkeeper with no chance.
The Eagles' first real chance came just a few minutes later, Kian Flanagan forcing Andy Dawber into a save from distance, with Francis Baptiste left with the seemingly simple task of slotting in the rebound into a empty net, but he lofted his effort onto the outside of the post.
That was the closest Palace came, with Crewe re-affirming themselves in the ascendancy on 81 minutes, Udoh going on a powerful run, jinking past two defenders into the box before smashing his low shot off the foot of the goal-post.
The third goal did come from Crewe however, & it was on 87 minutes from Wintle, courtesy of a helping hand from Perntreou. Ryan received the ball 40-yards from goal, drove forward & unleashed a swerving powerful shot from 25-yards straight down the throat of the goalkeeper, but the youngster misjudged it, spilling the effort into the net.
The comfortable victory leaves Crewe third in the U23 Professional Development League 2 table, two points behind second placed Hull City & the final play-off spot.
Alex Morris' side's next game is away at Bristol City's Ashton Gate on Monday, before they finish with Gresty Road fixtures against Leeds & Watford & then a final day trip to Sheffield United.
Crewe: Dawber, Wilkinson, Pickering, Poscha, Ng (c), Dale (Kirk), Wintle, Finney, Ainley, Saunders (Lundstram), Udoh
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