Powell brace not enough as Crewe slip to home defeat to Shrewsbury in EFL Trophy
Shrewsbury Town topped Group C in the Papa John’s Trophy following a topsy-turvy cup tie at the Alexandra Stadium. Crewe trailed 2-0, then led 3-2 before eventually losing 4-3 to Sam Ricketts' side.
Shrewsbury’s Shilow Tracey notched a hat-trick to win a thrilling tie that actually counted for very little with both sides already through to the knock out stages. There were some positives for Crewe Alexandra though with Daniel Powell notching his first two goals of the season and Regan Griffiths impressing on his senior debut. Offrande Zanzala also scored his first goal for the club when bundling home a Powell assist minutes before the interval.
David Artell used the luxury of qualifying for the knockout stages of the Papa John’s Trophy with a game to spare by making a number of changes to his starting line-up. David Richards captained the side and there were first starts of the season for experienced defender Eddie Nolan and young full-back Rio Adebisi.
Attacking midfielder Regan Griffiths was handed his senior debut and Artell went with a fresh front three of Owen Dale, Daniel Powell and Offrande Zanzala. The Alex substitutes’ bench was strong with a number of first-team regulars named in the squad of 18. None would be used.
Before the 6pm kick off, the club's marked a minute of silence to remember all those that have fallen for the country in conflict.
Crewe’s first chance of the evening came after a short, space passing move involving Dale and Griffiths before Ainley placed Zanzala through on goal. The front man dragged his shot a yard wide of the left hand post but it was evident that his pace could trouble the Shrewsbury back line.
Shrewsbury settled down into the proceedings and winger Ryan Barnett fired over the crossbar before he created the opening goal of the game in the 17th minute. Barnett fired in an accurate cross and Matt Miller stole into the centre of the Crewe goalmouth to fly his head past a helpless Dave Richards.
Young Griffiths began to have a growing influence on the first half and he send a fine ball down the right wing for Dale to chase. The winger produced some great skill to evade Jan Zamburek before his cross into the box dropped for Zanzala but under pressure he could only poke his effort wide.
A free kick from Sean Goss was deflected via the head of Aaron Pierce for a corner before the visitors doubled their lead on 24 minutes. Goss’ centre from another Shrews corner was punched clear by Richards and as he rushed through a crowd of bodies to block, Barnett returned the shot and into the back of the net via what appeared a slight touch from Tracey. Crewe appealed for offside but the goal stood.
Griffiths or Adebisi was booked for a foul with what appeared a case of misidentification by the referee.
Crewe hit back on 34 minutes after more good work from Griffiths. He spun away from two in his own half before sending Powell clear. The winger took it in his stride before dispatching it past Harry Burgoyne via the far post. It was a fantastic finish and got Powell up and running for the season.
Zanzala was put through on goal again a couple of minutes later by Ainley but on this occasion Burgoyne raced out to save bravely with his legs. He was injured in the process but was fit enough to continue after treatment.
Zanzala’s persistence paid off five minutes before the break. He forced home his first goal for the club after a low cross from Powell. Crewe had showed real spirit to go in at half time level and Zanzala had his first goal for the club following his summer switch from Accrington.
The second half started with a dangerous looking tackle from substitute Donald Love into Rio Adebisi. He was a bit fortunate because he was certainly not in control as his boots left the ground. He was booked.
The physicality of Shrewsbury’s play continued but they were also a threat with Adebisi making a strong block to deny a cross from Love from reaching our six yard box. A retreating Lancashire and Ainley also did well to halt Barnett as he tried to counter attack through the heart of our defence.
Crewe finally took the lead on the hour mark with Ainley again conjuring up the attack with a forward pass into Zanzala. He did well to instantly touch and release Powell on goal. He attempted to round a grounded Burgoyne and with the goalkeeper out of the equation, he kept his composure to slot it past the final defender stood rooted on the line. Crewe led 3-2 and looked the more likely to go on and top the group.
Shrewsbury were having none of it though and to their credit they fought back. Tracey got in behind Nolan before lifting his effort over Richards for an equaliser on 76 minutes and he was there to tap home the winner after Richards could only push out a fierce shot from Goss as we entered the final 10 minutes.
Crewe did get themselves into some promising positions to perhaps make it a staggering 4-4 and force a shoot-out but Adebisi and Finney didn’t quite make enough of their good positions and Powell went awfully close to his first hat-trick when his excellent shot smacked the post and Ainley fired the rebound over the top.