- A point earned on the opening game of Professional Development League season
- A goal and assist for Joel Tabiner
- Late heartbreak denies a dream start for Michael Jackson’s tenure
Crewe Alexandra were denied an opening day victory and a perfect start for newly appointed u21 manager, Michael Jackson when two late goals from Swansea City levelled the scores.
Two goals either side of half time courtesy of Matus Holicek and Joel Tabiner put The Railwaymen in charge with just over half an hour remaining, but the South Wales outfit had other ideas.
An 88th minute goal from Josh Thomas gave the Swans a glimmer of hope before substitute Seb Dabrowski capitalised on 93 minutes with a fine finish to the top corner.
It was a disappointing end to what looked to have been a professional display from Michael Jackson’s men – a point which will feel more like defeat.
The opening stages saw both teams enjoy an even share of possession, with the first chance of the half coming on the 11-minute mark. Charlie Finney crossed low and hard across the Swans penalty area only to evade the on-rushing Connor Evans and Joel Tabiner.
Jackson’s side registered their first effort on target on 21 minutes. A searching Regan Griffiths corner found the head of the towering Billy Sass-Davies who looked to have had nestled his headed effort into the bottom corner, but for a superb save from the Swansea stopper Remi Mitchell
At the opposite end, Dave Richards was determined to stop his net from bulging, pulling off a superb reflex save to his right. Swansea’s Josh Thomas found room to release the trigger from close range, but Richards was equal to it. It was the South Wales side’s first chance and one which they should have taken.
Jackson made his first change on the half hour as Connor Evans made way for Matus Holicek and he needed no introduction, breaking the deadlock just before the interval. Oli Finney and Tabiner combined for the latter to drive towards goal and pick out the Slovakian waiting at the far post to tap home.
The final action of the half saw the visitors look to respond with an equaliser but again Richards stood strong. Similar to the Swans first opportunity earlier in the half, Ben Lloyd let strike and despite the ball slipping away from the Crewe stopper Lewis Billington was in the right place at the right time to clear.
The visitors began the second half looking for that equaliser; instantly calling Richards into action, but once again the Welshman got down low to save with his legs. Meanwhile, at the opposite end Holicek was set free before turning his man to fire towards goal. Mitchell though was equal to it and restricted the Alex from doubling their lead.
Though, it didn’t take long before Jackson’s side doubled their lead. Youngsters Charlie Finney and Tabiner combined for the latter to convert Finney’s driven cross in at the far post. A fine attacking move down the left flank – something that seemed to cause The Swans an issue all afternoon.
Swans head coach, Jon Grey added Tarelle Whittaker to his side as Corey Hurford made way on the hour mark with Whittaker swiftly involved in the action. Forcing Richards to push away his effort low into the bottom corner.
With half an hour or so to go, Khanya Leshabela and Sam Bhatti made way for the introduction of Owen Lunt and Zak Kempster-Down as Jackson looked to freshen things up on the pitch.
The Railwaymen appeared to be in cruise control, and the final stages would rely on the Reds to grind out the game with a professional display. But the visitors managed to pull one back two minutes from time. Thomas was slipped through in behind before slipping one over the onrushing Richards.
With the wind in their sails the visitors pushed for an equaliser and so they did. Swans full-back Seb Drabowski found himself high up the pitch to manoeuvre his way through into the penalty area and let strike to the top right-hand corner. Richards was unmoved and the Alex were shattered.
The last of the action saw Griffiths pick up a yellow card as he vented his frustration with a late challenge midfield.
Crewe Alexandra Starting XI: Richards, Bhatti (Kempster-Down 75’), Finney, Leshabela (Lunt 62’), Sass-Davies ©, Billington, Tabiner, Griffiths, Evans (Holicek 30’), Finney, Sambou.
Subs not used: Booth, Woodcock
Swansea City Starting XI: Mitchell, Ludvigsen, Lissah, Williams, Blythe, Cotterill, Hurford, Leverett, Thomas, Lloyd, Myers
Subs: Dabrowski, Hughes, Wilson, Davies, Whittaker