Superb solo run and finish Dan Agyei gives Crewe a deserved draw against Championship side West Brom
Crewe Alexandra’s first home pre-season game ended in a 1-1 draw against Championship side West Bromwich Albion this afternoon. It was a well deserved draw with Crewe hanging in the game and preventing Steve Bruce’s side from having too many clear-cut chances at the Mornflake Stadium.
Alex Morris’ side had to fight back in the game too after John Swift had opened the scoring for the visitors on 54 minutes and it was a moment of real individual skill from Daniel Agyei to level things up.
After moving into a central position, his really decisive run straight through the West Brom defence left them in his wake and he coolly lifted it over the onrushing Alex Palmer for an excellent equaliser on 73 minutes.
It was no more than Morris’s hard working side deserved after containing the Championship side for periods in the game and although there were moments of real quality crosses going into the Crewe box, Dave Richards was not called upon on too many occasions.
Alex Morris had some selection issues going into our latest pre-season match with a number of notable absentees. Crewe are currently without eight possible regulars due to illness or injuries.
On the plus side, summer signing Courtney Baker-Richardson recovered from illness to start and new defender Rod McDonald was fit enough to be named on the bench after a sickness bug.
Steve Bruce selected a strong West Bromwich Albion side with former Crewe loanees, David Button and Semi Ajayi in their starting line-up and midfielder Jake Livermore on the bench for the Championship side.
In rising temperatures, Bruce’s side were always going to have more of the football and after Daryl Dike’s looped a header into the gloves of Dave Richards early on, the Baggies went awfully close to opening the scoring in only fourth minute. A touch from the powerful forward Dike gave John Swift enough time to shoot inside the box but his fierce drive cleared Richards’ left hand post by inches.
Crewe’s best move of the first half was initially created by Kelvin Mellor’s timely tackle and then a really fluent move saw our trialist winger involved in the build up before Agyei released the rampaging Charlie Finney on the overlap from left-back. The youngster kept his composure to roll a low cross over to Baker-Richardson and after taking a decisive first touch his drive was blocked by Ajayi.
With Captain Luke Offord leading by example in his physical tussles with Dike and Sass-Davies heading most high balls out of our penalty area, Crewe did a fine containing job on the opposition. Sass-Davies made a superb last ditch tackle just outside the box on Dike as he threatened to break through our stubborn lines.
Uwakwe’s skill in the middle of the pitch then set Agyei racing away and his cross was cleared before Baker-Richardson could get there ahead of an organised West Brom rearguard.
The impressive Charlie Finney needed treatment after suffering an ankle injury and although he tried to carry on he had to be replaced by his brother before half-time. Uwakwe moved back to left back.
When in possession, Ainley was a threat with his passing and half turns but Button wasn’t really forced into too many saves in the first 45 minutes.
West Brom continued to load our box with some real quality, but it took a corner from Swift to present them with another decent chance in the final minute of the first half but Ajayi’s towering header cleared the crossbar.
Livermore came on to captain the Baggies after the break and Joel Tabiner also came on for Crewe minutes in for the trailist wide man.
Crewe’s first chance of the half saw Agyei shoot straight at reserve goalkeeper Palmer after Finney had swung the ball out to him. Agyei perhaps could have looked to pick out of team-mate as we broken forward in numbers.
On 54 minutes, the deadlock was finally broken by the Championship side. Those quality crosses finally told, with Jed Wallace picking out Swift and he made no mistake from close range.
Baker-Richardson tried to quickly level things up but h was penalised for jumping into Palmer from a deep Mellor cross before Crewe needed both Sass-Davies and then Mellor to clear from dangerous situations provided by Matt Phillips.
With it getting hotter by the minute, it was no surprise that there was a flurry of substitutions before Agyei took it upon himself to go for goal himself. He showed real power and pace to burst though and as Palmer came to oppose him, he clipped it over him for a wonderfully taken equaliser.
West Bromwich Albion it in the closing stages to try and find a late winner. Sass-Davies flicked a header away from the imposing Agyei and Adam Reach dragged a shot well wide from the edge of the box. Fellow sub, Karlan Grant will have been relieved to see the assistant raise his flag for offside after he was guilty of missing from only a yard or so out. He also couldn’t quite reach a low cross from Conor Townsend.
Crewe only real half chance to snatch it saw young Tabiner had a late effort blocked after another forceful run from Agyei had seen us put West Brom under pressure once again. Sub Matus Holicek and Regan Griffiths were both involved in a really promising move but credit to the West Brom defence as they rushed to close down Tabiner.