Crewe fight back twice in first half to eventually win the friendly through Joel Tabiner's late strike
A fairly open first half Halesowen saw Crewe Alexandra having to fight back twice to level things up. Crewe found themselves a goal behind after barely two minutes of play after we were caught out at a throw-in and winger Simeon Cobourne took advantage of our indecision at the back to score from close range.
Trialist Chris Lang levelled things up on 33 minutes with a fine finish that gave Daniel Platt in the Halesowen goal no chance. Crewe found themselves behind again though five minutes later with the impressive Cobourne turning provider this time for Richard Gregory to force home at the far post.
Crewe had to rally again and on the stroke of half-time, Platt kept Sang’s free-kick out from the edge of the box but he was totally exposed as Matus Holicek made no mistake with the follow-up to equalise.
The Railwaymen looked the more likely side to go on and win the game in the second half and we did thanks to one of our outstanding performers on the night. After previously hitting the post, Joel Tabiner's shot a minute later proved too hot to handle for Platt and secured a 3-2 win with just four minutes left.
Alex Morris mixed his Crewe Alexandra side up for our latest pre-season fixture at hosts Halesowen Town. The Crewe Alexandra boss named a youthful side, sprinkled with senior starters such as Billy Sass-Davies, Kelvin Mellor and Oli Finney. He also used the opportunity to run the rule over a couple of trialists. After impressing as substitutes against Barnsley at the weekend, Matus Holicek and Owen Lunt both started at The Grove this evening.
Halesowen made a fantastic start to the game. Billy Sass-Davies swung out a ball to the wing but Sean Lawton couldn’t reach it and pull it down and Crewe were completely caught out from the resultant throw-in.
A lovely touch off from Richard Gregory released Jamie Insall in behind our left channel. Unopposed, his cross shot was gong wide of the far post but winger, Simeon Cobourne, had anticipated it perfectly to race in and lift his shot into the roof of the net. That was barely a minute; 30 seconds on the clock and Crewe found themselves behind.
Winger Cobourne was causing issues with his pace and he was soon denied a second goal of the night only because Billy Sass-Davies blocked his shot with his head. Nathan Hayward was then denied in the follow up.
Tom Booth also had to save smartly from Insall as he gained enough space to shoot through some bodies from the edge of the box.
Crewe tried to respond from the early set-back with Mellor denied a clean header at goal by some good defending from Nat Kelly before Holicek should have levelled on 15 minutes. Finney flicked the ball into the young Slovakian at the far post, but from close range he was denied by the rushing Daniel Platt. You would have expected the talented youngster to have scored.
Crewe began to get more of a grip on the possession but the work rate of the Halesowen players was commendable and they continued to make things difficult for us in rather humid conditions.
After Finney was denied by another crucial save from Platt, this time by his legs, Crewe finally drew level on 33 minutes. The trialist Chris Lang buried his shot across Platt and into the bottom corner for his first goal of pre-season.
Crewe were level for just five minutes.
A longer ball forward gave the most impressive player of the half, Cobourne to get at the exposed Lawton and his low cross across the box was bravely turned home at the far post again, this time by Richard Gregory. He needed treatment after a clash but he was able to make it through to half time before being replaced by Brad Birch.
The Alex were certainly being tested at the back but we tried to draw level before the break with Sass-Davies heading over at a corner.
In the final 60 seconds of the half, Crewe were presented with another chance to level things up when Finney was tripped right on the edge of the penalty area. Sang took it upon himself to take it and his well struck effort forced Platt into another fine save, but the alert Holicek made no mistake to tap in the rebound for 2-2.
Crewe came out in the second half determined to get on the ball and apply better control of the game. More dominant in possession in the early exchanges, Sang headed upwards and into the gloves of Platt before Joel Tabiner went awfully close with a speculative effort from the edge of the box.
After controlling the early exchanges, Crewe needed Tom Booth to remain alert to the danger posed by Insall and Cobourne. The lively winger seemed to steal possession ahead of Sass-Davies and Booth had to stand firm to save at his near post and the ball spun away from danger.
Crewe were crisper in their passing but we needed to just find that penetrative final ball to unlock a resolute Halesowen defence. Finney provided a free-kick delivery of quality on 67 minutes and Welshman, Billy Sass-Davies was unfortunate to see his powerful header smack the crossbar.
Mellor played just under 70 minutes on his return from illness before he was replaced by young Zac Kempster-Down. Halesowen lost the impressive Cobourne after he picked up a knock and he was replaced by the veteran Asa Charlton.
Crewe looked the more likely side to go on and win this friendly game but in truth neither goalkeeper was being tested anywhere near as much in the second half as the first.
Enter Tabiner in the closing stages. The Liverpool-born midfielder was a real plus point in the game, considering that this was his first 90 minutes since his injury. He so nearly produced a goal worthy of any contest when his sublime touch to bring down a high ball saw him turn and hit the post. It deserved a goal.
He had to wait just a minute later though when his well struck shot from the edge of the box proved too much for Platt. The Halesowen goalkeeper got a strong hand on it but the power took it home for the winning goal.
There was still just a bit of time for Dexter Dudley-Tootle to force Booth into a save and the Crewe goalkeeper did well to get something on the corner too.