Tense affair ends in draw as Alex have to come from behind to secure point.
Crewe Alexandra’s search for that first league win of the season continues after we were held to a 1-1-1 draw at Shrewsbury this afternoon. The Alex will probably look back at the 90 plus minutes and in reflection believe that with the chances we had, it should have been three points instead of one. Crewe had 18 attempts at the Shrews goal but with only 5 efforts on target.
The Alex had two early chances inside the opening 10 minutes but new boy Scott Kashket was denied a debut goal by Marko Marosi and Donervon Daniels struck over from a corner, so the home side’s opener on 20 minutes through Sam Cosgrove came somewhat against the run of play.
Crewe regrouped after that set-back to end the first half strongly and deservedly went in level at the break thanks to Mikael Mandron’s fine finish with two minutes remaining.
Crewe again had the better of the second half chances but a combination of wasteful finishing and some defensive blocks and deflections prevented us from snatching a victory in front of 1,000 plus away fans.
Saying that Will Jaaskelainen had to keep his concentration at the other end and although he didn’t have many saves to make, he made a crucial one to deny substitute Ryan Bowman a winner with his head.
With new faces coming into the club ahead of the summer window closing, David Artell was presented with the chance to shake up his starting XI.
The Alex boss elected to go with three at the back with Donervon Daniels retaining his place following his assured performance against the Shrews in the Papa Jones’ Trophy tie here.
Three of the club’s new signings started at the New Meadow, the on-loan N’Jeill Bennett and Scott Robertson and the permanent capture Scott Kashket in a real attack-minded line-up. Madger Gomes is short of fitness after missing pre-season as he searched for a club.
After starting the EFL Trophy tie last time out, Callum Ainley, Oli Finney started on the substitutes’ bench, as did midfielder Josh Lundstram and forward Chris Porter.
Two of Crewe’s new signings combined in the first couple of minutes to so nearly create the first goal of the afternoon. A switch break down the left saw Rio Adebisi quickly release Bennett and his instant pull-back found Kashket. His low shot nearly crept in at the near post but Marko Marosi just did enough to smuggle it behind for a corner.
Barely a minute later, Adebisi was booked after a late tackle on our former loanee Eliott Bennett as he threatened to run in behind from just inside the Crewe half of the pitch.
In the 7th minute, Crewe were handed another good opportunity to take the lead. Via a Luke Murphy corner from the left, Luke Offord made a nuisance of himself at the far post to keep the ball alive and a slight deflection dropped invitingly to Daniels, but the defender lashed his shot over the Shrewsbury crossbar.
There was an excellent tempo to the contest and there were a few tasty tackles going in from both sides. After 10 minutes of frenetic play, it was Crewe who had conjured up the best two chances.
Debutant J’Neil Bennett continued to glide past opponents and another good passing move saw Mandron find Ramsay out on the right hand side and after cutting inside, his shot was rather tame. Marosi should have gathered it easily but didn’t, fumbling the ball out and Kashket nearly got enough on it to poke it goalwards.
After making legitimate contact with the goalkeeper, he would need a period of treatment before being able to resume.
Crewe had to defend their box well at times and stood up to the physical presence offered by the Shrews. Therefore, it came a bit against the run of play that the home side took the lead after 20 minutes.
Mandron surrendered possession to the Shrews captain Ethan Ebanks-Lasndell close to the centre circle and after Shaun Whalley has raced in behind on our right hand side he was able to slide the ball across for Sam Cosgrove to score at the second attempt with a close range tap in. It was a well crafted goal from Shrewsbury but a disappointing one for Crewe to concede.
Seven minutes later, Will Jaaskelainen was called into action to push behind a well struck shot from Elliott Bennett. The Alex goalkeeper kept a watchful eye on his effort from 25-yards to get both gloves on it. Moments later, Murphy fed our own Bennett in behind and although he got the ball out of his feet, he would be foiled by a great recovery block from Ebanks-Landell.
On 34 minutes, Matthew Pennington was booked for upending Thomas after he had tricked his way past him. Almost immediately, Murphy followed him into the book for a foul.
A forceful run from Robertson from the centre of the pitch was then followed by an excellent outside of the boot pass that so nearly released Mandron through on goal.
The pressure growing on the Shrewsbury goal finally told a minute before half time.
Crewe kept probing and after good work from Kashket in the initial build up, the ball ran through to Mandron and he tucked his shot away accurately into the far corner for his second goal of the season. It was no more than Crewe had deserved to go in at least level.
A good early break from the Alex saw us on the front foot in the second period. Kashket ran in behind down the right hand side and the ball was eventually worked onto Adebisi and his curling effort was goalbound and had to be bravely blocked.
In possession, the lively J’Neil Bennett looked like he was capable of conjuring something up and after skipping past one opponent close to the edge of the Shrewsbury box, his curling shot took a nick off a defender to flash just past the far post. Moments later, Robertson’s delivery into a crowded box only needed a positive contact with his head from the advanced Thomas.
Kashket’s willingness to run in behind and his clever movement continuously caused problems and he drew another foul and another yellow card, this time for Ebanks-Landell.
On the hour mark, there was a lengthy stoppage after Robertson looked to be caught off the ball. It looked as though he had blood stemming from his mouth and the protests from his team-mates were long because they felt play should have been stopped - but referee Sam Barrott had clearly missed what appeared an accidential clash. He had to change shirts after losing so much blood.
Shrewsbury made the first change with our former player, Dan Udoh replacing Tom Bloxham. Kashket was fouled yet again and Aaron Pierce went into the referee’s notebook. The bookings continued with Robertson booked for Crewe for a pull back.
On 69 minutes, Murphy pinched the ball off Cosgrove and instantly fed Mandron. The striker carried it with real purpose before rolling the ball into the path of Bennett. The on-loan youngster steadied himself but couldn’t keep his shot down when he really should of. It was a chance missed.
Moments later, Mandron raced onto another ball in behind and his forceful shot smashed the side-netting. He did likewise with a header at the far post after being found by Kashket.
Shrewsbury made a second change with Ryan Bowman replacing Cosgrove. Soon after the injured Pierre made way for George Nurse.
It was Crewe asking all the questions and Kashket came off the by-line before firing over. He was a real handful throughout. A really strong run from Josh Vela saw him carry the ball an awful long way and Daniels did well to track him inside our box and block his low cross.
That seemed to spur Shrewsbury in a short period of concerted pressure. Crewe conceded a needless free-kick as the game entered the final 10 minutes and after Luke Leahy had lifted over a tempting cross, Ryan Bowman’s forceful header from no more than 8 yards out was superbly kept out by Jaaskelainen. Moments later, Whalley had a volley blocked and Thomas had to defend a high ball really well when under severe pressure. The Shrews winger also fired tamely into the side netting at the far post.
With five minutes remaining, the hard working Kashket was replaced by Chris Porter. Kashket could be immensely proud of his contribution on his debut for the club.
The bookings kept on coming and Ramsay was booked as the minutes ticked by.
With two minutes remaining, Murphy again did well to keep the ball alive and find Robertson and after carrying the ball forward his cleverly disguised pass found Mandron close to goal but you have to credit Pennington for an excellent last ditch tackle.
Due to the injury and delay in Robertson receiving treatment, the officials declared 9 minutes of stoppage time. Soon after the board was shown, Pennington went down inside the Alex box and there were loud protests coming from the home fans. Pennington didn’t complain too much and the referee was well placed and not interested.
With both sides seeking a winner, Bowman poked one straight at Jaaskelainen. At the other end, a fantastic move from the Alex saw Murphy release Ramsay and his deep cross was headed down by Porter into the path of Mandron and he was so unlucky to see his shot take a slight deflection to sent it wide.
Artell made a double change with Finney and McFadzean on for Bennett and Adebisi. Soon after Offord whistled one wide when a cross into a crowded box was probably the better option, certainly with Porter now on the pitch.
As the stoppage time ebbed away, Udoh was booked for a foul on Robertson. Daniels likewise for a foul on Whalley.
The Alex looked the more likely side to claim all three points but we couldn’t conjure up that one real chance to snatch it.