Having edged past Bolton Wanderers in the first round of the 2020/21 Emirates FA Cup, the second round draw set up a trip to Cheltenham Town, and a particular Alex classic against the Robins needs no introduction.
The Reds sealed promotion back to League One following a three-year hiatus, as goals from Nick Powell and Byron Moore saw Crewe sink Cheltenham with a 2-0 victory at the home of English football.
Crewe’s eighteen at Wembley included nine Gresty Road academy products, and the side was even captained by current manager, David Artell, who was a rock at the back as the Alex left the capital, promoted.
18-year-old England youth international, Powell, who was already being watched by numerous Premier League sides, paved the way for Crewe once again, and gave the Railwaymen the lead, as on the turn, he fired home an audacious volley from 20 yards to silence the Robins.
It could have been so different had Cheltenham’s Jeff Goulding found the net when he rattled the bar just moments after Powell’s stunning opener, and it was a lack of cutting edge that saw Cheltenham suffer a first play-off defeat in their history.
Cheltenham had carved out numerous chances to level proceedings but failed to make the Alex pay, as Steve Davis’s side’s clinical touch proved enough to prevent a fourth season in the fourth tier.
The Gloucestershire outfit may have finished a place above Crewe, who occupied the final play-off spot at the end of the 2011/12 campaign, but the Alex cut them down to size with a commanding performance. Davis’s men came into their trip to Wembley on the back of 19 games without defeat and that confidence was demonstrable across the field.
Cheltenham again came close to evening the tie, as an untimely stumble from Crewe centre-back Adam Dugdale on 54 minutes, allowed Kaid Mohamed to scamper beyond him and strike, but Steve Phillips stood firm to save.
With eight minutes left on the clock, A-Jay Leitch-Smith played a ball across the box to find Moore, who drove home low across the face of goal to put the game to bed, sparking wild celebrations amongst the 15,000 that made the trip to London.
Moore’s late goal ensured May 27th was a date that would live long in the memories of Alex supporters, as they watched their side scale the famous Wembley steps, to collect the trophy.
Speaking on the pitch following the final whistle, Davis said: “I’m very proud and emotional, this is a very young team, so hopefully we can keep them together and continue this success. They don’t know when they’re beaten, and they’ve done fantastically.”
“Nick (Powell) has been great, he’s won all of our Player of the Year awards, and he’s our most talented player at the moment. He has a brilliant future ahead of him.”
Powell, when asked about his strike, said: “I’ve been here 12 years, I’m one of the youngest, but I feel like one of the oldest. If I’m honest I just whacked it, I knew the defender was away to my left, so I thought I may as well have a go”.
Cheltenham Town: Brown, Jombati, Bennett ©, Elliott, Garbutt, McGlashan, Pack (Penn 84’), Summerfield, Mohamed, Goulding (Duffy 75’), Burgess (Spencer 83’).
Unused subs: Lowe, Smikle.
Crewe Alexandra: Phillips, Tootle, Artell ©, Dugdale, Davis, Mellor, Westwood, Murphy, Moore (Bell 90+7’), Leitch-Smith (Martin 85’), Powell (Clayton 80’).
Unused subs: Martin, Bodin.
Scorers: Powell 15’, Moore 82’