A stunning overhead kick from Owen Dale with minutes left sees Crewe emerge with a point from Burton test.
A quite stunning overhead kick from Owen Dale three minutes from time saw Crewe Alexandra at least pick up a point from our trip to Burton Albion. Dale produced his goal of the season contender just in time from Omar Beckles’ header from a corner and overall it was no more than Crewe deserved after controlling much of the possession in the second half.
The Alex were forced to play catch up after conceding a defensively disappointing goal from a Burton corner. Sam Hughes headed the Brewers in front with just 14 minutes remaining on the clock. They had rarely threatened Jaaskelainen’s goal, with the Alex limiting them to shots outside of our box.
Crewe forced the Burton goalkeeper Kieran O’Hara into some decent saves from midfielders, Murphy, Lowery and Wintle and Sam Hughes did brilliantly to hook a wayward header from Colin Daniel off his own line. Crewe certainly had the better of the few openings.
David Artell made three changes to the Crewe Alexandra side that impressively defeated Swindon Town 4-2 on Tuesday evening. Leading scorer, Mikael Mandron, and centre-half Omar Beckles returned to the starting line-up after starting as substitutes against the Robins.
With club captain Perry Ng serving a suspension, youngster Travis Johnson started at right-back. Harry Pickering took the armband for the first time in his young career.
Olly Lancashire and Chris Porter were the unfortunate ones to drop to the bench for the trip to the Pirelli Stadium. Billy Sass-Davies was also recalled to the squad following his recent successful loan spell at Altrincham.
The former Crewe defender, John Brayford, captained the Brewers, and Colin Daniel started at left back. The club’s former goalkeeper, Ben Garratt, started on the bench for the home side.
Johnson took some calm, assured early touches at right-back and Pickering contained the busy Ryan Edwards on the other side. Pickering’s first corner from the right was flicked away for another by the Burton goalkeeper Kieran O’Hara. The second one taken by Tom Lowery was easier to collect at his near post.
Although short on chances, it was an intriguing opening period of the game with both sides playing some neat football. It was certainly defences on top though, with Beckles poking the ball away from Edwards just outside the six yard box and O’Hara again looking assured as he claimed Daniel Powell’s deep cross aimed for Owen Dale on the opposite wing.
Powell’s first forceful run saw him take on and pass, the drawn out Sam Hughes, and his low drive had to be hacked out of the Burton six-yard box. It was encouraging for Crewe that three forward passes, had got Powell into such a dangerous position.
It took almost 20 minutes for the first meaningful shot to be registered on target with Burton’s wide man, Charles Vernam, coming inside before firing straight at Jaaskelainen. Vernam’s next involvement saw him almost reach the by-line and his low cross missed everyone before Pickering tucked it behind for a corner at the far post. The ball was crying out for yellow shirt to take a gamble on it.
Another good run, this time by Joe Powell down the Crewe left hand side, saw his low cross into the Crewe six yard box nearly reach Vernam, but Beckles got enough on it as well, and that allowed Jaaskelainen to pounce onto the loose ball.
On 28 minutes, Pickering struck a dipping free-kick from the right that O’Hara had to watch and tip over for a corner. It was a terrific effort from the Crewe captain and it so nearly caught out the Burton goalkeeper.
A patient build up between the handful that is Lucas Akins and Brayford saw the Burton right-back slide a curling shot through a gap of bodies, but Jaaskelainen watched it all the way to make an easy collection.
From another Crewe set-piece corner, Beckles stole off at the far post to meet Pickering’s delivery but he couldn’t quite direct in on target to force O’Hara into a save. The Railwaymen did pose a threat from set-pieces throughout.
Burton continued to be compact, organised and disciplined in their shape and it was difficult for Crewe to get in behind them. There was little space in behind defensive line of either side. Likewise Offord and Beckles marshalled the threat of Akins and Vernam.
Two minutes before the half time break, a fine burst forward by Lowery saw him collect and turn on a pass from Pickering and after taking a positive touch, his well struck shot made it uncomfortable for O’Hara, but the former Manchester United youngster got enough of his body behind it to make a decent save. That was Crewe’s best effort of a really tight first half where neither side gave away an inch.
Crewe were presented with a good early chance in the opening minute of the second half. After Pickering had picked possession from Edwards, Crewe broke quickly through the centre of the pitch. Lowery spread the ball out wide to Dale and after using Johnson as a decoy, his superb far post cross reached Murphy, but he could only direct his flying header at O’Hara. It was a chance for the former Brewer to open his account in his second spell for Crewe.
From a short corner, won by the livelier Dale, the ball was worked into Murphy again and his low drive had to be saved by O’Hara. Then Murphy sent Mandron racing away from the right and he was making progress before he was clattered into by the sliding Bostwick. The first yellow card of the afternoon inevitably followed.
Crewe were certainly on top in the early passages of the second half. The Railwaymen kept the ball intelligently, patiently waiting for the right opening. Dale was seeing more of the ball.
At the other end, Joe Powell tried his luck from almost 25 yards and his low shot had Jaaskelainen moving across to make sure it was covered.
On the hour mark, Travis Johnson, was booked for catching Akins as he threatened to ride Wintle’s tackle and get away.
A minute later, David Artell, made his first two changes of the game with Powell making way for Kirk and Finney on for Tom Lowery. Akins took a Junior Daniel cross down on his chest but Offord got enough of his block on his eventual shot to make it easier for the Alex stopper.
Burton boss Jake Buxton made his first change with Niall Ennis replacing Ciaran Gilligan. Akins went wider.
O 66 minutes, Kirk’s first real involvement saw him drift past a couple of Burton bodies before his pass invited Wintle to shoot. His low shot was pushed away by the agile O’Hara. Crewe were certainly looking the more likely side to take the lead.
Four minutes later and more promising play from Crewe saw Dale drift off his wing to find Mandron but he shot too straight at O’Hara and he again made a comfortable save. It was his last involvement as he was replaced by Porter.
Burton were being restricted to long range efforts with Vernam, not for the first time, shooting straight at Crewe’s Finnish goalkeeper. But with 14 minutes remaining, the home side made a set play count. A Powell taken corner to the far post, saw centre-half, Sam Hughes climb highest to head down and past Jaaskelainen for the opener. It had come against the run of play and now Crewe were chasing.
On 79 minutes, Charles Vernam nearly made it mission impossible. He was presented with a one-on-one with Johnson and his fierce drive just cleared Jaaskelainen’s left hand post.
On 83 minutes, Crewe went close to an equaliser. A patient passage of play saw Pickering eventually crossed to the far post and under pressure from Porter, Colin Daniel’s misplaced header was heading in until goalscorer, Hughes hooked it wonderfully off the line. Crewe protested that the ball may have crossed the line but the Burton defender had done superbly to prevent a certain goal.
With Crewe pressing, searching for that equaliser, Kirk whistled a shot that took a slight deflection. With three minutes remaining, Johnson made way for Lancashire just before the decisive corner.
Beckles won the initial header and Dale executed a perfect overhead kick that gave O’Hara absolutely no chance. It was a stunning piece of skill to draw Crewe deservedly level and there was still time on the clock for a possible winner.
The best chance came after Powell was booked for a foul on Dale but Murphy, uncharacteristically over hit the free-kick as Beckles threatened to get around the back again. The Alex had to settle for a point in a game they looked more likely to win in the second half.