- Crewe get their first Papa John’s points on the board
- Richards saves two spot-kicks in shootout
- Agyei and Griffiths net to beat strong Leeds side
Crewe Alexandra beat Leeds United Under-21s on penalties after their Papa John’s Trophy clash ended in stalemate at Mornflake Stadium.
A resilient and determined defensive effort kept a super-strong Leeds U21s side at bay for 90 minutes, with keeper Dave Richards called into action on a couple of occasions.
When the sides could not be separated, spot-kicks were required. It was a low-quality shootout, with only three finding the back of the net.
But Richards saved two, and Dan Agyei and Regan Griffiths were on target, to earn Crewe two points and prevent Leeds from progressing to the knockout stages.
Alex Morris made wholesale changes to the side that lost at Barrow, with only Kelvin Mellor, Rio Adebisi and Bassala Sambou keeping their place. Matus Holicek, 17, made his debut in an advanced midfield role, as the boss reverted to 4-2-3-1.
Leeds named a very strong side, with Polish international midfielder Mateusz Klich and first-teamer Junior Firpo starting alongside the likes of hitman Joseph Gelhardt and full Italy international Wilfried Gnonto.
Crewe, who knew they could not go further in the competition, showed an excellent attitude and defended resolutely in a goalless first half.
Their few forays into Leeds territory came to nothing, but they restricted the visitors well at the other end.
Keeper Richards made a superb save to tip a Darko Gyabi strike onto the woodwork, and Sonny Perkins fluffed a great chance when he was found just a few yards out.
But aside from that, the Alex protected their goal well and deserved parity when the referee signalled the end to the first 45 minutes.
Richards spilled a Perkins effort soon after the restart but Mellor was quick to clear the loose ball, and Firpo stung the keeper’s hands soon after.
The Alex goalie was busy again as the game approached the final quarter, rushing out to block a Joseph shot from close range.
Owen Lunt came on to make his debut as the clock ticked down, but he found himself mainly defending - just as his teammates were.
Leo Hjelde headed over from a corner, but in the dying seconds it was Crewe on the attack.
Sambou beat his man and stood the ball up for Charlie Finney, but Firpo was on hand to flick a header for a corner.
In the shootout, Tariq Uwakwe, Charlie Finney and Sambou failed to score for Crewe, while Firpo, Joseph, Perkins and Gyabi were unsuccessful for Leeds.
Klich was the only United player to score, but it was not enough to prevent Crewe from edging it.
Crewe (4-2-3-1): Richards; Adebisi, Sass-Davies, Mellor, C Finney; Griffiths, Leshabela; O Finney (Agyei 60), Brook (Lunt 72), Holicek (Uwakwe 54); Sambou.
Subs not used: Okonkwo, Thomas, King, Billington.
Leeds (4-4-2): Christy; Dramah, Hjelde, Moore (Spencer 62), Firpo; Perkins, Klich, Gyabi, Gnonto (Allen 62); Gelhardt (Snowdon 62), Joseph.
Subs not used: Ombang, Miller, McGurk, Debayo.
Referee: B Toner.
Attendance: 1,1236 (582)