Chances few and far between in stalemate at Mornflake Stadium.
Crewe Alexandra were held to a goalless draw by Steve Cotterill’s Shrewsbury Town side with Marko Marosi in the visiting goal not tested enough over the 90 minutes. Crewe had Dave Richards to thank for tipping over a forceful header from Matthew Pennington and Ethan Ebanks-Landell heading over after a wonderful cross from our former wide man, Elliott Bennett. He should have hit the target at least.
In truth though, it was defences on top in a hard fought affair at Mornflake Stadium. Crewe’s best chance came in the first half when Oli Finney had a close range effort blocked by Bennett.
With Zac Williams ruled out through illness and Scott Robertson with a knock, David Artell was forced into two changes with Callum Ainley and Luke Murphy returning to the starting line-up. Murphy was named captain after Chris Porter did the honours in the 2-1 win over Charlton Athletic.
Crewe Alexandra boss David Artell named a young bench with Josh Lundstram recalled after a short stint on loan at Solihull and wide man Tyreece Onyeka named in the squad of 18.
The game kicked off in a great atmosphere at Mornflake Stadium and both sides had the ball in the net before the 15th minute but they were rightly chalked off, Shrewsbury’s for a foul at a set-piece and Mikael Mandron’s after Chris Long was adjudged to have crept offside when receiving a pass from Finney.
Crewe also lost their skipper, Murphy. He received a blow on his hip and although he tired to shake it off, he had to replaced by Regan Griffiths on 14 minutes.
After Johnson surrendered the ball to Udoh close to our own box, Nathanael Ogbeta unleashed a shot that Richards did well with as it bounced infront of him.
Regan Griffiths was booked for a pull back on Udoh, which was harsh considering Shrewsbury got away with two before his.
On 27 minutes, Porter proved too strong for Bowman and after finding his partner Long, the forward whistled a shot a yard wide. At the other end and better in possession, Bowman shot instead of feeding Ogbeta on the overlap. Moments later, Richards did well to grasp a cross from Ogbeta.
Just after the half an hour mark, Lowery did well off a basic throw in and after Porter and Long combined, Finney headed goalwards but it was a little behind him and Marosi made a simple collection under his bar.
Our former midfielder Bennett fired one into the floor that Richards had to push away for a corner before the referee played a good advantage to allow Porter to find Finney on a break but after a step-over, he was crowded out and he couldn’t get free.
On 38 minutes, the influential Lowery found Finney and after taking a decisive touch inside the box, his powerful shot was brilliantly blocked by Bennett. He took it right in the face to prevent a goal.
It was fairly end to end with half chances at both ends. Bowman flicked a cross into side netting from six yards out before Udoh wriggled free in stoppage time but shot wide, with Richards having it covered.
Crewe produced patches of the form that saw us lead Charlton 2-0 at the break but on this occasion in the first half, we had not tested Marosi enough.
Shrewsbury had an early flurry of set plays in the second half, but Crewe defended their box well. Luke Offord must have run Tom Lowery close for the man-of-the-match award. He didn't put a foot wrong.
On 53 minutes, Offord was involved again before Ainley fired a half volley wide on the near post. Crewe got into some promising positions but it was just that final decision or final ball.
At the other end, Shrewsbury always provided a threat from set-plays and Crewe needed Mandron to clear from inside the six yard box after an untidy melee.
Josh Vela was booked for a foul on Sass-Davies before he and Bennett combined to get to the by-line but Ogbeta shot over.
It was a scrappy affair at times, littered with fouls and both sets of players contesting balls. It was competitive enough but that little bit of quality was lacking to win it really. Crewe really battled well and deserved that clean-sheet.
Shrewsbury’s Pennington saw his firm header tipped over superbly by Richards from a Leahy corner and the visitors had the best chance of the game when Bennett’s drilled cross found the head of Ebanks-Landell but he couldn’t keep it down to test Richards.
In the closing stages, Artell introduced the fresh legs of Lundstram and debutant Tyreece Onyeka but that genuine chance for the Alex never arrived. It ended in stalemate and was probably fair after a hard fought affair.