ALEX END AMMIE HOPES
Salford City’s FA Youth Cup adventure came to an end at The Peninsula Stadium, but narrowly victorious Crewe Alexandra certainly knew they’d been in a game. Jamie Russell’s young side matched their opponents all the way and with slightly better luck might well have progressed to the 3rd Round. It wasn’t quite to be, but the Under 18s have done their club proud yet again.
The starting XI was unchanged from the side that beat Bradford City so impressively on Halloween, and they were soon putting Alex under pressure. As early as the 2nd minute Alex Doyle & Brandon Lockett combined to work possession out to the right. Taylor Dyson advanced a step or two before striking a well-hit shot that wasn’t far wide of visiting keeper Sam Booth’s left-hand post. Soon after that skipper Doyle had a go himself, from 20 yards out and right-of-centre, but Booth was right behind that effort.
On a wet and windy Salford evening Crewe took a while to get their passing game going and had to wait until the 10th minute for their first chance. It was a nicely worked move and after Rio Adibisi clipped in a pass from the right Malachi Linton slammed in a shot that was blocked by Joel Barlow.
Not bad from Crewe and they showed their attacking teeth to better effect with 11 minutes played. Linton swung in a cross from wide on the left and CONNOR HEATH left the home defence standing, stooping to head past George Neave from the edge of the 6-yard box.
A blow for the Ammies and the first time they’d gone behind in the FA Youth Cup this season.
Crewe had the opportunity to go further ahead on the quarter-hour as Nathan Woodthorpe delivered a left-footed cross from the right. Central defender Matthew Fenton was well upfield for this attack but, stretching, could only glance a header well wide of the far post.
It was all about the response from Salford’s point of view, and as you might expect they would not be found wanting. Kamar Moncrieffe’s pass found Douglas James-Taylor who turned into a yard of space before firing in a rasper of an effort. Booth did well to get down to his left to push the ball away as it skipped off the wet surface right in front of goal. At the other end Ethan Hartshorn nicked possession away from Doyle and Linton almost capitalised, drilling in a low 20-yarder that Neave did well to turn around his left-hand post.
As the half progressed, Salford began to push their opponents back, searching for a leveller that looked increasingly likely. Barlow slid a nice forward pass into the box and Moncrieffe got there to prod in an effort that was saved by Booth. A nice spell of possession for the home side ended with Lockett’s chipped delivery into the area. Booth was favourite to gather this one too but he spilt possession. Despite a bit of a scramble nobody could force the loose ball home and Xrewe escaped unscathed.
Despite being a goal down the Ammies were holding their own and deserved to get back on level terms in the 26th minute. Harry Hatton was fouled outside the box and Dyson hit a stinging free-kick, with Booth once again failing to hold the ball or push it away effectively.JAMES-TAYLOR looks to be a natural predator and he got to the loose ball before anybody else, then lifted a cool, angled finish from the left that dropped inside the far post.
Game on, and Salford were looking to edge ahead for the first time on the night. Eleven minutes before half-time the Ammies put pressure on Crewe’s defence and James-Taylor got to the edge of the box before hitting a powerful effort on goal. Booth dived to his right to make an impressive save, deserving a slice of luck as the ball deflected away off the underside of his body.
The pace of the game – and frequency of attempts on goal – dropped a little as the interval approached, but there would be a little more action to enjoy. In the 42nd minute Lockett let fly with a 25-yarder from left-of-centre and Booth was there again, pushing the ball wide of his right-hand upright.
That was about that for an entertaining first half and the tie was evenly balanced at 1-1.
HALF-TIME: SALFORD CITY 1 CREWE ALEXANDRA 1
There was one change for Salford at half-time as Adam Barthram replaced Sam Wright at left back.
The first-half wind and rain had abated a little by the time play resumed and it was Salford who offered the first threat. James-Taylor found Moncrieffe, whose touch gave Doyle a sight of goal on the edge of the box. A decent opening, but the captain’s shot flashed wide of Booth’s left-hand post.
Five minutes later Dyson delivered a free-kick from the left and defender Markell Foulds wasn’t far off-target with a header. It was Dyson’s turn to have a go soon afterwards but from outside the box he couldn’t keep his effort down.
The Ammies were having the best of the second half’s opening stages and put together a great move in the 58th minute. James-Taylor’s pass picked out Moncrieffe who pushed into the area on the left. Dyson collected his pass before moving possession to Doyle, just outside the right-hand angle of the box. For a moment it seemed that the low angled drive that followed might sneak inside the far post, but with Booth well beaten it squeezed inches wide instead.
Within another minute Dyson’s ball through the inside-right channel was collected by Moncrieffe whose subtle first touch took him away from a defender. The shot that followed was well struck but the angle had been challenging and the ball billowed the side-netting.
A good spell for Salford and their opponents hadn’t managed to create any sort of a chance since the break. The next goal, by all rights, should have gone to the Ammies, but as we all know, football delights in caprice. In the 65th minute Crewe substitute Rio Adibisi picked up possession outside the Salford penalty area before skipping past Hatton. A nicely struck effort from 20 yards followed, with Neave getting down to push the ball away to the right. Unfortunately for the home side LINTON was in pole position to get to the ball first and made no mistake with a close-range rising effort.
Disappointing for Salford, who didn’t deserve to be behind, but Alex would close the game down pretty effectively from this point onwards. Emmanuel Ogunrinde has form when it comes to scoring important FA Youth Cup goals and he came on for Hatton with 17 minutes to play. Big striker Anointed Chukwu replaced Dyson 10 minutes later, but despite riding their defensive luck a little bit Crewe did not concede any real chances.
Moncrieffe tried his luck from long range in the 86th minute but the ball passed harmlessly over Booth’s crossbar. Within 60 seconds Doyle had hustled Crewe out of possession before passing to Chukwu on the edge of the penalty area. A short run to the right opened up some space but the big striker’s low shot ran straight through to Booth.
That would be Salford’s last chance to rescue their FA Youth Cup dreams as Alex successfully ran down the clock to the final whistle.
FULL-TIME: SALFORD CITY 1 CREWE ALEXANDRA 2
Not the result we had hoped for by any means, but the Ammies can hold their heads high at the end of a very good performance. There was energy, ideas and pace aplenty this evening and the lion’s share of goal-scoring opportunities went the way of Jamie Russell’s lads.
Crewe, as you might expect from a club with a rich academy history, play football the right way. At times though they were knocked out of their stride by enthusiastic and inventive opponents – Alex are more than a tad lucky progress. They are undoubtedly a quality side and we wish them well for their trip to Ashton Gate for a 3rd Round date with Bristol City.
Another history-making season in terms of the FA Youth Cup – well done to everyone involved with the academy set-up – you’ve done us proud.
There’s another chance to see some of the youth team in action on Tuesday evening when Curzon Ashton visit the Peninsula Stadium for a Manchester Premier cup second round tie. A Kamar Moncrieffe hat-trick saw off the other Ashton side last month – a repeat would see the Ammies qualify for the semi-finals.
SALFORD CITY: 1) George Neave, 2) Joel Barlow, 3) Sam Wright (12 Adam Barthram, HT), 4) Brandon Lockett , 5) Markell Foulds, 6) Sam Adetiloye, 7) Harry Hatton (16 Emmanuel Ogunrinde 73), 8) Alex Doyle (c), 9) Douglas James-Taylor, 10) Kamar Moncrieffe, 11) Taylor Dyson (14 Anointed Chukwu 86)
Subs Not Used: 16) Clayton Gorman, 17) Harry Ditchfield
CREWE ALEXANDRA: 1) Sam Booth, 2) Jack Goodrich, 3) Nathan Woodthorpe, 4) Ethan Hartshorn (16 Jakob Priestman, 54), 5) Oliver Southern (15 Ola Odipe 63), 6) Matthew Fenton, 7) Connor Heath, 8) Joe Robbins, 9) Malachi Linton, 10) Tyreese Onyeka (12 Daniel Lokko 54), 11) Rio Adibisi (c)
Subs: 14) Andrew Walklate, 17) Abdul Djalo