Crewe had a positive weekend on the pitch as the Firsts drew 0-0 away to Hanover and remain in 3rd place. The Reserves dug out a 2-1 victory away to Dollingstown.
DOLLINGSTOWN RESERVES 1 CREWE UNITED RESERVES 2
Cold and wet was Saturday afternoon as Crewe United Reserves made the short journey to face their Planter’s Park opposition. Both sides entered the game on somewhat of an even keel as Dollingstown Reserves had only one win in their last five fixtures, whilst the Glenavy side were seeking their first victory since late November.
As the game got underway, much of the early exchanges were in favour of the away side, with Crewe United not only dominating possession, but also creating chances that were unfortunate to have not been converted.
Excellent defensive performances from Crewe’s centre-half partnership, combined with goalkeeping heroics saw the score remain 0-0, and as the Crewe side were strong in defence, in attack they continued to look more and more dangerous. Darach Mallon and Ryan McPhill provided width both defensively and in attack, supporting their respective wide midfielders’ efforts – as both wide pairings dominated their sides. In addition, the height from Crewe’s backline was proving a continuing threat when attacking corner kicks.
Dollingstown seemed to find a foothold in the game, digging in their heels in defence and applying pressure to the men in black’s backline. However, with Peter Bell hassling the Dollingstown midfield tirelessly, it was Crewe who were first to break the deadlock. The ball broke to Niall Finn deep in the heart of the midfield, before the no.10 played a cross field ball to Darach Mallon high on the left side. Mallon showed expert composure and vision to spy Finn’s run from right to left through the Dollingstown defence, before executing a perfectly timed lofted through ball which Finn dispatched hurriedly with the outside of his boot, past the outstretched hands of the approaching goalkeeper.
With Dollingstown restarting the game, the tide seemed to change as the home side began to obtain more of a grasp on the game. Dollingstown had found themselves holding possession but they were unable to break through the defiant Crewe ranks as defensive bodies were lining up to block any threat on the Crewe goal. However, Crewe’s determination and strong challenges saw the first booking of the game just before the half time whistle.
As the whistle blew to begin the second half, the Glenavy men took to the front foot, as constant attacks from wide positions penetrated the Dollingstown defence. The weather seemed to go from bad to worse and as a light rain set in, it seemed to spark more life into Crewe’s play as the away side won a string of corner kicks. Much like the first half, Crewe came close from these early opportunities, finally doubling their lead when the work rate of Mark McAuley was rewarded with his first goal of the game. A curling cross from the corner was whipped into the eighteen yard box at pace and McAuley happily placed the ball into the top left corner of the goal with a delicately half-volleyed chip, much to the despair of the Planter’s Park faithful.
The men in black continued to pressure the youthful Dollingstown side in search of a third goal that would surely seal the victory and clinch a vital 3 points to take back to Crewe Park. However, as the hour mark approached, a lack of fitness for the away side allowed Dollingstown to stretch the game, pushing Crewe United deeper and deeper into their own half. If not for some fantastic saves from Christopher McCarthy, and the unnerving calmness that he and his backline displayed, Crewe may have conceded. However, at this stage it was not to be for the home side despite their efforts. Dollingstown were eventually rewarded for their grit, when with fifteen minutes remaining they managed to claw a goal back with their captain leading by example, finishing off the rebound to a strike that Crewe’s McCarthy had done so well to originally prevent.
Dollingstown did not rest on their laurels as they pressed for an equaliser. Crewe’s men had other ideas as both wide players worked industriously up and down the lines, providing defensive support as well as attacking outlets. With pressure mounting in the closing minutes, Crewe’s management felt it necessary to bring on some fresh legs both in defence and to the forward line, with Finn dropping into the midfield to aid the relentlessly terrier-like Bell. Proving to be an inspired substitution, Dollingstown could not break down the Crewe side, with the whole defence once more finding its solidity, accompanied by the added bonus of experience. Through a combination of determination and infallible effort, Crewe United Reserves managed to lock down their defence and come away with 3 points, ending the game in possession following a series of attacks on the Dollingstown goal – thus securing a win on Eddie Finn’s first game in charge.
Following the game, the new manager stated his thanks to all the players for their effort and hard work, commenting that “it was a pleasure to watch such a great performance.