Mandron double sets up winner late on for Porter in season climax.
Crewe Alexandra completed the season with a hard fought home win over Shrewsbury Town at Gresty Road. This was far from a dull dead rubber with both sides desperate to finish the campaign on a high.
Crewe led 2-0 thanks to a double from leading scorer for the season, Mika Mandron, but Steve Cotterill’s side battled back before the interval thanks to well taken goals from Shaun Whalley and our former striker Dan Udoh.
It needed a Chris Porter tap-in nine minutes from time to seal the three points for David Artell’s side and make sure we finish 12th position in the League One on our return.
For the final game of the season against Shrewsbury Town, David Artell made one change in midfield with Tom Lowery returning to the starting line-up ahead of the on-loan Antony Evans.
Crewe were boosted by the return of Oli Finney and Josh Lundstram from long term injury. Finney had previously suffered a fracture of the leg against Shrewsbury back in January. Lundstram had not featured since November since suffering a severe ankle injury against Newcastle United Under-23s in the Checkatrade Trophy. Both midfielders started on the substitutes’ bench but would make an appearance before the end.
It was good to see Steve Cotterill back in the Shrewsbury dugout after his battle against Covid-19 and the experienced manager named our former forward, Daniel Udoh in his starting XI. Brad Walker started on the bench for the Shrews.
A group of Alex fans came to give captain Harry Pickering a deserved send off at the Alexandra Stadium. Pickering led the team out for the final time before his summer move to Blackburn and the fans made an atmosphere outside of the stadium. It will be good to have all them back for pre-season.
Crewe started brightly, forcing an early corner but Pickering’s delivery from the right hand side was just a touch too deep for Rio Adebisi to head it back across the six-yard box. Some good midfield play from Lowery then saw Adebisi and the lively Owen Dale combine and the winger was unfortunate to see his shot blocked.
After such a promising start from the Railwaymen, it wasn’t a great surprise when we took an early lead after just 10 minutes. After Shrewsbury had initially cleared the danger, the second phase of play saw Kirk provide a perfect pass for Mandron, who took a confident touch before dispatching it pass Harry Burgoyne for his 13th goal of the season. It was a super finish from Crewe’s main marksman this season.
Following the opening goal of the game, there was a needed stoppage after Daniels and Udoh collided in the air. Both players needed treatment for a head injury with Daniels obviously suffering the most. He would last 39 minutes before having to be replaced by Omar Beckles.
From the awarded free-kick, the robust full-back Aaron Pierre turned and shot wide and after a set-up from Udoh, Sean Goss shot well wide.
Crewe so nearly doubled their lead when Adebisi and Dale got joy again down our productive right hand side and it looked as though, Dale’s shot was going to squirm past the hand of Burgoyne and trickle over the line. He was rescued inside his own six-yard box and Dale couldn’t believe it didn’t quite have enough on it to take it over the line. The Shrews keeper got lucky on that occasion but he wouldn't later.
On 21 minutes, Crewe did create that second goal. There was a superb crossfield pass from Kirk to Adebisi in the initial build-up, but after an interchange of passing, it was a little fortunate how the ball reached Mandron for him to volley home his second goal of the afternoon. It was another emphatic finish after Lowery had deflected a pass into his path and it set up perfectly for him to dispatch it for 2-0.
His brace meant he would end the season as top scorer with 14 goals, two ahead of flying winger Dale.
Crewe’s dominance in the Shrewsbury half of the pitch continued and after Adebisi was halted, Wintle shot over from 25 yards in the follow-up.
Udoh had a sight of the Crewe goal but it was bravely blocked by Lancashire before Goss fired into the Alex wall from the edge of the box via a free-kick.
Shrewsbury certainly grew into the contest and ended the half strongly. On 35 minutes, a good passing move from the visitors created a mere half chance for Whalley and after he burst past Adebisi and Lancashire, he powerfully struck past Jaaskelainen to half the deficit. It was game on again.
Shrewsbury’s confidence continued and they drew level three minutes before the break. Udoh was played in behind and after holding off the intentions of Lancashire, powerfully drilled home the equaliser. Udoh had scored on his return to Crewe.
Cotterill’s side deserved credit for fighting back and the two sides went in level after an enteraining half of football.
Mandron headed a Lowery corner over in the opening minutes of the second half and Kirk shot ambitiously on the half volley, as Crewe tried to regain the lead. Ainley also shot over after a promising run.
Beckles foiled a strong run from Whalley before Shrewsbury’s main threat saw his shot from a corner deflected behind for a corner. It was arguably their best effort of the entire second half to score again.
Crewe were dominating the possession and looking to probe an opening. Artell made a double change to try and find that next goal with Murphy and Lundstram on for Lancashire and Ainley. Wintle switched to centre-half.
Shrewsbury aimed to look a threat from set-pieces and from a Goss corner, Matthew Pennington flicked a header just wide of the far post. Udoh also spun and shot straight at the Alex goalkeeper.
More changes occurred with Finney and Porter introduced for the final ten minutes and it was Porter, on for Mandron, who would net the winner in the 81st minute. Kirk’s shot was sloppily handled by Burgoynbe and as it rolled across the line, Porter tapped home for the winning goal. It was probably the easiest of his entire career!
Crewe’s game management was first class to see out the remaining minutes, as Shrewsbury couldn’t muster another genuine chance to snatch a point.
They did have a late shout for a handball offence from Murphy from a cross from sub Tom Bloxham but the referee wasn’t interested and Crewe had the points to finish the season.