A first league game in two months for Crewe FC as they entertained Greenalls Padgate St Oswalds FC. After a somewhat controversial first game earlier in the season, at least in the eyes of the Crewe team, would the return fixture prove to be any less contentious? Crewe kicked off the first half, however the first chance fell to the opposition who thundered a volley off the crossbar in the 2nd minute. Crewe’s first clear chance came in the 6th minute, when following mass confusion in the Crewe ranks after mistakenly thinking they’d been awarded a penalty, the ref in fact pulled play back for a freekick. From the freekick, a stretching Jack Gater was unable to direct the ball on target with an outstretched leg. Two minutes later the returning Mike Blundell was played in by Harry Ashworth, but a charging keeper reached the ball in the nick of time with the forward through on goal. At the other end of the pitch a good block by Jake Maunder denied Greenall’s a clear shot on goal, and another let off for Crewe a minute later when a Greenall’s goal was ruled out for offside. A Blundell freekick in the 17th minute pinged off the wall, falling to Derice Richards who fired it into the area where Ian Carr almost prodded home from a few yards out but there were just too many bodies in the way. In the 21st minute Crewe almost went route one. A long goalkick by Arran Lyons, a swing and a miss by an opposition defender and Nathan Southern was in behind but his shot was saved by the goalkeeper. From the resulting corner, Maunder, Richards and Southern all tried to divert the ball in during a frantic goalmouth scramble. Crewe continued the assault, Blundell scrambled his way through, before firing a fierce shot the keeper did well to turn around the post. He again went close in the 27th minute when he almost headed Crewe in front, narrowly missing a Harry Maclennan freekick at the back post. Richards sliced shot in the 31st minute inadvertently played in Southern who turned well before having the ball taken off his toes, and Ian Carr following up fired his shot into a Greenalls defender. Blundell continued his running battle with the opposition keeper, this time coming off worse in a 50/50 challenge with Crewe insisting it should be penalty, however their pleas fell on deaf ears. The moment of the half came in the 39th minute. Crewe build from the back starting with keeper Lyons, working the ball across the defence, some neat interplay between the three midfielders, assured touches from the forwards, and a slick team move eventually earned Crewe a corner. All it needed was a goal to cap off an exquisite move. It almost went from class, to calamity when a miscommunication from a goalkick almost presented the opposition with a clear path to goal, but the Crewe defence were swift to react and snuff out any shooting opportunity. That almost disastrous moment rounded off an exciting first half, and one that almost certainly promised goals in the second. With both teams back out, Greenalls got the second half underway, and it didn’t take long for the goals to arrive. Less than a minute gone and a mix up at the back allowed a Greenalls striker to latch onto a long ball, round the keeper and tap home. Crewe almost equalised less a minute after that. A cross from Maunder on the left picked out Southern who directed the ball goalwards but the keeper got down well to make the save. Just two minutes later the referee was giving a penalty back at the opposite end having adjudged there to be a foul in the Crewe box. Greenalls notched their second of the game from the spot, doubling their lead. In the 60th minute Blundell crossed for Southern who again was just pipped to the ball by a defender. A minute later, Richards laid off the ball for Carr who unleashed a fierce drive from the top of the box that scorched its way over the bar. And then…Penalty to Crewe. Kieran O’Connor had his feet taken out just inside the penalty area despite mass protestations from the opposition that it was outside box. Southern stepped up, and thumped it home from the spot. Crewe weren’t out of it yet. 71 minutes on the clock, Maunder again finding space on the left picked out Southern on the penalty spot, who calmly hit a first time shot into the bottom corner. 2-2, Crewe were back level, cries of ‘get the ball out of the net’ from the sidelines, Parky insists it’s all his doing having arrived at 2-0 down. A deft turn by Southern in the 78th minute rounds the first defender but his partner was swiftly across to deny the Crewe forward his hattrick. Into the 83rd minute and Crewe still press forward. Danny Massey beat his man, crosses from the right and finds Southern at the top of the box, the striker controls well and fires the ball right into the side netting…of the inside. Crewe, and Southern have a third and having come from two goals down finally had the lead. Parky doesn’t have to say anything, he just smirks at the bench. A tense final 10 minutes for the Blues who held on well. Then with one minute left, a swift break down the left, a swinging cross, a scrambled back post header, and Crewe’s lead was extinguished. Crewe managed to keep applying pressure for the dying seconds but ultimately had to settle for a point as the ref brought a pulsating game to an end. A riveting game to watch, with both teams probably disappointed to only be taking away one point. Tremendous effort and resilience from the boys in blue to haul themselves not only level but to take the lead. Danny Massey gave his thoughts on the game post-match. “ Giving away cheap goals will have to stop. We were in command for the first half, but didn’t finish our key chances. In the second half two cheap goals changed the game, and probably made it a better game for the spectators as it became very open. Some of our attacking play at times was very good at times and to come back showed great fight. We haven’t clicked as a team yet with the massively long break doing us no favours. We need a run of games, the league is very open for us to finish high.”


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