Crewe lose season opener in the Carabao Cup to Lincoln City
Crewe Alexandra kicked off the new season a with a narrow 2-1 defeat to Lincoln City in the first round of the Carabao Cup.
Second half goals from Tom Hopper and a stunning volley from Lewis Montsma gave Michael Appleton’s side the victory with defender Billy Sass-Davies scoring for the Alex with a powerful header from a Charlie Kirk corner.
Crewe had the better of the first half, certainly in terms of chances, but Lincoln improved after the break and grew more confident in the final third.
The club’s first ever competitive game behind closed doors began after both sets of players took the knee ahead of kick-off.
The opening day of the season was never going to have the same feel about it without the atmosphere generated by supporters.
Full-back Harry Pickering registered the first effort on target but his low shot was tamely struck at Alex Palmer in the Lincoln City goal.
In the 10th minute, Crewe produced arguably their best move of the first half with new signing Mikael Mandron involved with his presence. Good link up play involving skipper Perry Ng and Owen Dale saw the winger pull the back superbly for the supporting Oli Finney but he shot inches wide from his good position. Finney didn’t need telling that he should have hit the target and showed his frustration by lashing the loose ball into the net.
Ryan Wintle let his former team-mate James Jones know he was about with a crunching tackle in midfield and referee Oldham spoke briefly with the Crewe man.
Crewe carved open the opposition again following a timely tackle from Sass-Davies. His ball retention allowed Finney to look up and free Kirk through on goal, but just as he was about to get his shot off, the recovering challenge from Timothy Eyoma was expertly timed. It saved a certain goal.
Lincoln got in behind themselves through Tom Hopper but his dangerous low cross was hooked clear of danger by Pickering.
Ng cut-in from his right back position before drilling a low shot into the gloves of Palmer before he was involved in another interchange with Dale down the right hand side. Dale’s accurate cross was headed just over by Mandron.
In truth, the visitors were not in and around our box too much in the first 45 minutes but Sass-Davies did well to come out of the defensive line and block a powerful drive from Anthony Scully.
On 35 minutes, the Imps captain Jorge Grant applied a slight touch to a deflected shot from Scully, but Richards watched the movement of the ball to make the save look comfortable.
With the half surviving a mass September downpour, Crewe again played some fine football to carve out a chance for the attack-minded Finney but he screwed his low shot just wide of the far post.
Dale was booked in the opening minutes of the second half for a rash challenge.
The impressive Montsma shot wide from distance with an early tester before the away side took the lead on 51 minutes. A low cross from Scully evaded too many bodies across our six yard box and an alert Hopper helped himself to a tap-in. It was a disappointing goal to concede from a Crewe perspective.
Crewe tried to reply instantly with Dale taking a long range pass on his chest inside the box but he has halted by Sean Roughan’s interception.
We didn’t have to wait too much longer for the equaliser with Kirk’s header from the left, powerfully headed home by the young Welshman, Sass-Davies. It was the centre-half's first senior goal for the club and deserved following his overall good performance.
Lincoln grew in stature and the lively Hopper spun off and fired over the top of the crossbar.
Wintle tried his luck with a 25 yard drive that had Palmer stretching at the foot of his post.
The decisive goal came in the 66th minute following a Lincoln City set piece. The corner from Grant was touched on perfectly and Hopper volleyed home superbly as it dropped to him. It was a fantastic strike that gave Richards no chance.
David Artell quickly altered his personnel with Ainley coming on for Finney. Ainley’s first touch saw him play out a splendid pass to Ng out on the right and his cross struck the top of Mandron’s shoulder rather than his head and it was made easier for Palmer.
With Lincoln City creating the better of the chances, Sass-Davies stuck his head in the way of Alex Bradley’s fierce shot.
Mandron headed down and at Palmer as Crewe tried to force a late equaliser and the possibility of a penalty shoot-out.
The final chance for Crewe came after Murphy was fouled but Pickering couldn’t quite keep his free-kick down.
Crewe: Richards, Ng, Pickering, Wintle, Kirk, Mandron, Finney (Ainley), Lancashire, Dale, Sass-Davies, Murphy
Subs not used: Booth, Nolan, Griffiths, Lundstrum, Johnson, Onyeka