Crewe Alexandra started their pre-season campaign with a 4-1 victory at local neighbours Nantwich Town. Young professionals, Ty Onyeka, Regan Griffiths, Joe Robbins and Josh Lundstram were all on target for the Alex on what proved to another useful run-out against the Dabbers. The result saw Crewe lift the Barry Daly Trophy for the first time after Nantwich won it last pre-season.
David Artell utilised the numbers in his squad by playing all those were fit and available for selection in two teams for each half.
Nantwich had the first glimpse of a chance via corner and although Ben Harrison won the initial header he couldn’t direct it goalwards to force Dave Richards into his first save.
Crewe played some neat and tidy, possession football and Regan Griffiths shot directly at Greg Hall after 10 minutes. Moments later, our former Academy graduate Connor Heath dragged an effort wide of the right hand post following a surge and pass from Carlos Montefiori.
From an Alex corner, taken by Griffiths from the left, new signing Kayne Ramsay emerged from the pack to win the flick on and fellow defender, Luke Offord, just couldn’t keep the second header down at the far post.
Crewe opened the scoring on 23 minutes following a probing run from Travis Johnson. The full-back pulled the ball back from the by-line for winger Tyreece Onyeka. His first shot rebounded back to him via the foot of the post and the youngster had the calmness of thought to take a touch before drilling low into the opposite corner of the net. It was an accurate finish to evade all the bodies in front of him.
On the half an hour mark, Griffiths emerged from behind Mika Mandron to divert a looping header into the arms of Hall before he brilliantly made it 2-0 to the Railwaymen two minutes later with a fantastic strike from just over 20 yards. His unstoppable drive clipped the post on the way past Hall.
The two scorers combined superbly again with Onyeka drifting off his wing before shooting just wide. Moments later, with the tempo increasing from the Railwaymen, Griffiths found Dale and after he had created a shooting opportunity for himself, his effort was unfortunately blocked by Mandron ahead of him, as he desperately tried to get out of the way of it.
Mandron did have the ball in the net himself before the half time break but he was adjudged to have been offside. It looked a dubious decision before the final touch seemed to have come via a Nantwich boot rather from Ramsay’s who had tried to reach Dale’s pass first. The referee went over to his assistant for clarification but they stood by the decision.
Mandron shot over as the first half drew to a close with the Alex deservedly two goals ahead on the balance of play.
Nantwich started the second half on the foot and our former midfielder, Caspar Hughes saw a deflected effort just clear the crossbar.
After Lundstram robbed possession in the final third, Kirk found Porter but the forward just couldn’t quite wrap his foot around his shot from the edge of the penalty area and it flashed wide of the target.
More good approach play from the Alex saw the lively Lundstram find Kirk out on the left. His low pass into Ainley allowed him to collect and on the turn his deflected effort just cleared the crossbar for an Alex corner. Soon after, new boy Long fired a goalbound effort against a Nantwich body.
Hoban so nearly made it 3-0 when he won a header from a set piece corner but Troy Bourne made a miraculous clearance to hook it from the line. It was excellent defending as he was also under considerable pressure from Sass-Davies.
One of the moves of the match from Crewe nearly resulted in a goal for Porter but he couldn’t quite reach Kirk’s centre.
On 63 minutes, Nantwich pulled one back. Hoban’s attempted clearance was blocked and after Malkin had crossed right across the six yard box, Jack Hatton slid it in for a goal.
The hosts so nearly equalised three minutes later and Crewe had Jaaskelainen to thank for producing a splendid save to deny our old boy, Callum Saunders from scoring with his head.
With just under 20 minutes remaining, Robbins was rewarded with a goal he deserved for his overlapping run down the right hand side. He had to cover some ground to collect Ainley’s pass and it was an obvious cross into the box but Hall clearly made a hash of it and it spilled out of his grasp and crossed the line for 3-1.
Robbins forced a good save from Hall and in the follow up, the lively Long shot wide as Crewe aimed for a late fourth goal.
With the minutes ticking away, Luke Murphy popped up in the box from Ainley’s pass and he was really unfortunate effort to his effort on the stretch hit the Nantwich post again.
Lundstram completed the scoring in the 88th minute with a well taken finish after tucking away a perfect pull-back from the impressive Long.
Crewe first half: Richards, Ramsay, Johnson, Daniels, Offord, MacDonald, Finney, Dale, Griffiths, Mandron, Onyeka.
Crewe second half: Jaaskelainen, Adebisi, Hoban, Sass-Davies, Lundstram, Robbins, Ainley, Murphy, Kirk, Long, Porter