Crewe: Jaaskelainen, Johnson, Ray, Sass-Davies (Fenton, 45), Griffiths, Lynch, Lowery, Dale, Nicholls, Miller, Reilly
Goals: Miller (32)
Shaun Miller’s first half goal was enough to seal all three points in the Professional Development League 2 meeting with Coventry City at Gresty Road.
The 1-0 victory means Alex Morris’ side can go into next Monday’s final match of the season away at Colchester United with a chance of still making the end of season play-off picture.
Morris’ side needed a victory to keep alive any remaining hopes of securing a play-off spot & his hopes were boosted by the inclusion of the experienced George Ray, Alex Nicholls & Shaun Miller in his starting XI.
In a first half of few chances, and just one shot on target, it was Miller who came close with the first attempt of the game 11 minutes in. He received the ball 20-yards from goal & shaped onto his left foot, curling his effort narrowly wide of the upright with goalkeeper Corey Addai rooted to the spot.
That was that in terms of first half goalmouth action in what was an extremely cagey opening period, until Miller broke the deadlock out of the blue with 32 on the clock. It was all down to the work of Joe Lynch on the right flank, jinking & cutting inside before curling over an inch perfect cross for Miller to arrive on to at the back post to tap home from just a couple of yards out.
The Sky Blues’ only sight of goal in the opening half came a few seconds shy of the whistle, Jordan Ponticelli stretching to glance a six-yard header wide from a right-wing cross when he may have done better.
The tempo picked up somewhat after the break & with that more chances came as the space opened up.
The Sky Blues looked dangerous in the opening moments of the second period, Connor Chaplin flashing a low angled drive narrowly wide from just inside the box.
But Crewe soon seized control & unbelievably missed a whole host of gilt-edged chances in a ten minute spell just after the hour mark.
Joe Lynch’s mazy run & driven shot into the side netting on the hour was a sign of things to come, with Lewis Reilly hooking a difficult chance over the bar from eight yards after goalkeeper Addai dropped a corner into his path.
The first real big opportunity was missed by half-time substitute Matty Fenton, glancing his free header wide from a Tommy Lowery corner kick before Alex Nicholls thrashed a superb left-footed strike from 25-yards that Addai had to save superbly by tipping over the top.
From the resulting corner, Fenton did well to head the deep delivery back across goal into the path of the unmarked Miller, but he flashed his six-yard header over the crossbar.
The final opening in the flurry of chances was the best of the lot. Jaaskelainen’s long kick downfield was held up by Reilly & turned into the path of Miller. He got down to the right by-line & cut back to the unmarked Nicholls to apply a finish from ten yards – but the striker didn’t catch hold of it properly & could only watch as it tickled wide of the post.
The Alex were comfortable until the final seven minutes of the contest when Coventry began to throw more men forward.
Jaaskelainen had been a virtual spectator in the match until that 83rd minute mark when he had to be alert to make an outstanding save to keep out Charlie Wakefield. The winger picked up the ball on the right & drove in-field, smashing an effort across goal & the Alex stopper flew to his right to tip the ball onto the crossbar to preserve the lead & keep his clean sheet intact.
From the resulting corner, sub David Bremang didn’t make the required contact with his free header as the ball bounced wide & the final Sky Blues sight of goal came three minutes into stoppage time when a heart stopping low Wakefield ball across the box eluded a touch.
Attentions now turn to the key clash at Colchester next Monday, April 15, with Alex Morris’ side needing to beat the U’s & hope results elsewhere go in their favour in order to reach the play-offs & have a chance of winning the competition.