Anene off the bench in first half to fire Crewe into Third Round
Chuma Anene was Crewe Alexandra’s FA Cup hero this evening after replacing the injured Chris Porter in the first half. The on-loan striker scored a well taken brace to fire Crewe to a deserved 3-1 win over National League side Eastleigh.
Anene headed the Alex in front five minutes before the half time interval and added a killer third on 65 minutes to see Crewe progress to the third round for the first time in over a break. The powerful front man could well have had a hat-trick too but defender Reda Johnson got his boot to a Daniel Powell cross just ahead of him to score an unfortunate own goal 10 minutes into the second.
The spirited non-leaguers scored late consolation goal with Marcus Barnes racing through the middle of the Crewe defence before lifting it over the advancing Will Jaaskelainen. It was a very good finish from the same player who scored the equaliser in the first game.
Crewe now face Championship side Barnsley in Round Three in the New Year.
David Artell made two changes to the Crewe Alexandra side that faced Eastleigh in the original fixture. A fully fit Nicky Hunt returned to the starting line-up in place of Christian Mbulu.
Oli Finney, who scored a brace against Morecambe in League Two in a 5-0 win last month was also handed a recall in place of the experienced Paul Green.
The former Crewe midfielder Danny Hollands captained the visitors on his return to Gresty Road.
A cagey opening to this second round replay was lifted after five minutes when winger Charlie Kirk rushed to close down Max Stryjek in the Eastleigh goal and after getting there, he was a little unlucky to see his rebound deflect away. Perry Ng ambitiously shot over from distance before the Spitfires conjured up their first attempt.
Full back Michael Green whipped over a cross and after it was initially cleared to the edge of the box, Charlie Seaman saw his fierce shot deflected high and out for a corner.
The first real chance of the tie saw Crewe break at pace thanks to a splendid pass into Kirk. He carried the ball 30 yards into the Eastleigh half before slipping Finney in and his shot was saved by Stryjek. It was a good save to deny the recalled midfielder.
Eastleigh presented a threat from set pieces but Jaaskelainen wasn’t really tested.
Crewe were a threat on the break after breaking through the Eastleigh high press and only a couple of offside decisions halted our progress. Porter was tussling all night with Reda Johnson and after 35 minutes the Crewe striker collapsed in the centre circle with what looked like a muscle injury. The club’s leading scorer, limped off and had to be replaced by Chuma Anene.
Eastleigh’s main outlet was Green on the left and his delivery was consistent. One cross nipped off Dale and a well-placed Hunt had to be alert to clear at the far post. The experienced defender also read one situation well to block Scott Rendell from getting through.
Another patient build up from the Alex, saw Kirk once again slip Finney in on goal and his low shot just cleared the far post. To his credit, Finney continued to get in behind and threaten the goal.
The deadlock was finally broken after 40 minutes and in truth it was coming from the Alex. Dale produced a splendid cross and Anene had got free to guide his close range header in off the underside of the crossbar for his third goal of his Crewe career.
Anene then laid off for Lowery and his low drive was straight at Stryjek before both Finney and Lowery broke through from midfield but didn’t make most of their chances.
Eastleigh created a half chance from a late free-kick, taken by Jack Payne but Reda Johnson didn’t quite connect correctly with his header and Crewe cleared any potential danger.
Powell replaced Dale at the break and the winger had a couple of early half chances. Jack Payne crunched into Lowery and was booked within minutes of the restart.
Ten minutes into the second half, Crewe deservedly doubled the lead 10 minutes into the second half. Powell was strongly involved in the build up after being found by Lowery and his wickedly placed cross was turned into his own net by Johnson.
Crewe should have netted another after Powell found Anene in front of goal but he produced a heavy touch and he left it for Kirk on his outside. Kirk side footed it goalwards and was unlucky to see it clip the post and rebound out.
It didn’t take long for that third goal to arrive though. Captain Ng produced a fantastic pass into Anene and he acrobatically finished past a helpless Stryjek for his second.
The third goal ended the tie and that prompted a double change from Ben Strevens with Smart and Barnes replacing Green and Barnett.
Sub Beale had a deflected effort pushed over by the Alex keeper before Smart drilled a shot into the head of Hunt.
Kirk dragged a shot wide and Finney fired acrobatically over the top of the bar before he was replaced late on for Green.
Crewe wanted the clean-sheet and will be disappointed to concede in stoppage time after switching off after a clearance from Stryjek found Seaman in space and his lofted pass found the speedy Barnes and he lobbed the advancing Crewe goalkeeper for a consolation goal.