Crewe United ended their long run without silverware last Friday night as they emerged victorious in the Mid Ulster League Marshall Cup Final against Craigavon City. It took extra time to separate the teams in a final which had just about everything for the neutral.
The opening half was scrappy with both sides setting a frantic pace which didn’t make for settled football. The first clear cut chance of the game came from the Craigavon side when only a reaction save from Gerard McErlean tipped a vicious shot onto the Crewe post and out to safety.
HT: Crewe United 0 Craigavon City 0
The game was all square at half time but sprung into life after 46 minutes when Crewe top scorer Dan Smith drifted past two defenders and rifled in a shot to the bottom corner of the net from 25 yards out. Crewe were well on top and scored a second soon after when Smith again was through on goal but with his shot drifting wide of the Craigavon City post, fellow striker Joe Todd stole in at the back post to side foot in from a tight angle.
Crewe could have added to their tally with Paul Brown, Nathan Finlay and Joe Todd guilty of missing guilt edged chances. This gave Craigavon City some believe and the game changed when on 60 minutes Crewe Keeper Gerard McErlean upended Caolan Skelton in the box and City duly dispatched the resulting penalty to make it 2-1.
Crewe were then dealt a blow by being reduced to ten men for an innocuous tackle by Nathan Finlay but his red card put the Glenavy side under pressure for the last 15 minutes of the game. That pressure eventually told when with only seconds of the game left Skelton broke through the Crewe back line and fired home to send the game into extra time.
FT: Crewe United 2 Craigavon City 2
As the extra time began Crewe looked the stronger physically despite Craigavon City having the man advantage. Crewe used their fitness to stretch their opponents and received their reward when Michael O’Neills pinpoint corner was volleyed home by Conor McCarthy from the edge of the box and what proved to be the goal the won the trophy.
FT (AET): Crewe United 3 Craigavon City 2
Crewe lifted the Marshall Cup, the clubs first competitive trophy in 32 years. It marks a big milestone for the club and a recognition of the improvement of the side over the past 2 years. Credit must go to Peter Kennedy for making some key signings in February which improved the squad. It was a superb night back at Crewe Park for the celebrations.
We would like to thank everyone involved at the club for the dedication and support and also to our many sponsors without whom we wouldn’t be here. Well done Crewe!!