Pickering free-kick goes straight in to seal Crewe another three points in the Checkatrade Trophy.
A free-kick from substitute Harry Pickering that somehow evaded everyone to end up in the Newcastle United net was enough to decide this Checkatrade Trophy Group tie at the Alexandra Stadium.
Pickering, who had replaced Ryan Wintle at the interval, whipped over a deep free-kick and with the Newcastle youngsters’ complaining for a foul, it ended up being the only goal of the game.
The referee wasn’t interested in calls for a foul on the Newcastle keeper Will Brown and Offrande Zanzala celebrated as if had applied the faintest of touches to the cross to register his first goal for the club. It is up for debate but the goal was credited to Pickering on the night.
In truth, there were good chances for both sides with Newcastle arguably shading the better of them in the second period when tired legs began to take hold. Their own substitute Elias Sorsensen wasted their best chance of an equaliser when we lashed his effort wastefully over. Newcastle had enough openings to have force a penalty shoot-out but Crewe could and should have been well ahead in the first 45 minutes.
Crewe held out to win 1-0 and take our group tally to six points from the two games with Shrewsbury Town still to play on 10th November. It could be enough to see us progress to the knockout stages without us having to kick another ball.
It was the Newcastle youngsters’ carving out the best chance of the early exchanges with Dave Richards called upon to make a smart save from Yannick Toure. Richards covered his post well to turn his effort behind for a corner.
Following that early half chance for Newcastle Under-21s, Crewe soon gained control of the proceedings and began to create good opportunities. The returning Tom Lowery went close to registering a goal after skipper Charlie Kirk cut a cross back into his path, but the Newcastle goalkeeper Will Brown made an outstanding save to somehow keep it out.
Callum Ainley was having joy down the right hand side and his cross was headed just wide by Alex debutant Donervon Daniels. Kirk also went close with a side-footed an effort just wide after another fine passing move that included Offrande Zanzala with the assist.
After Ainley once glided back full-back Rosaire Longelo, his accurate cross to the far post found Kirk and his intelligent downward header was cleared from the line. It deserved a goal.
Ainley was fully immersed in the attacks and after a flick and a trick inside the box, his volley was well held by Brown.
A Kirk corner from the left was headed down and just over by the impressive Daniels before Olly Lancashire was unfortunately forced off with an injury on the half an hour mark. He was replaced by Perry Ng, who operated centrally.
Kirk volleyed over from inside the 18 yard box after being found again by provider Ainley before his low cross evaded a host of flying bodies in the final minute of the first half.
Match winner, Pickering replaced Wintle at the break and the winning goal would come from his well struck free-kick on 65 minutes.
Before that Richards had to tip over a good effort early on and Lowery was booked for a trip on 55 minutes as he began to tire on his return to first team action. Loweey completed 70 minutes before being replaced by Luke Murphy.
There were limited chances for the Alex in the second period but a wonderful combination of passes between Kirk and Johnson, saw the left-back on the night fire just wide of the post.
Crewe had to dig in to see the game through and Newcastle will rue missing some good chances to take the game to a shoot-out and a possible bonus point. They lashed a couple of shots over the top of the crossbar, with the best falling to Sorensen late on, but like his team-mates he couldn’t keep it down enough to test Richards.
Crewe: Richards, Johnson, Daniels, Lancashire (Ng), Sass-Davies, Wintle (Pickering), Lundstram, Lowery (Murphy), Ainley, Kirk, Zanzala