Dale secures the three points as the Alex get back to winning ways.
Crewe Alexandra returned to winning ways on Tuesday evening as they held on for a hard-fought 1-0 victory away at Shrewsbury Town. Owen Dale scored the only goal of the game on 27 minutes after he notched in at the far post for his 8th goal of the season.
Shrewsbury had a catalogue of chances throughout the game, but Crewe had Dave Richards to thank after he pulled of some superb saves to maintain the Alex’s clean sheet.
The Shrews, Harry Chapman, came close in the opening minutes of the game but he could only shoot wide and with the Railwaymen leading at the interval it meant for a real gritty second half showing.
David Artell made three changes from his sides last outing at home to Ipswich Town on Saturday. The gaffer decided to refresh his wide options as goalscorer of the 1-1 draw, Charlie Kirk and Middlesbrough loanee Stephen Walker were switched for Owen Dale and Daniel Powell.
With match action limited at Rotherham, Billy Jones, was left out for homegrown Travis Johnson as the experienced pro readapts to the demands of playing two games in three days.
After agreeing a move to Blackburn Rovers in the summer, Harry Pickering, returned to the Alex on loan and was named as captain for the game at New Meadow – along with Omar Beckles returning to Shropshire for the first time since departing the Blues in the summer.
Elsewhere, with Steve Cotterill battling Covid-19 in hospital, his assistant Aaron Wilbraham named former Crewe forward, Daniel Udoh in the starting line-up.
Shrewsbury made a quick start to the evening as Harry Chapman touched round Johnson before surging towards goal. Dave Richards held his position and narrowing the angle, the Shrews midfielder could only chip his effort wide of the goal. A let off for the Alex, as the home side could and possibly should have been ahead.
Pickering was cautioned with just 10 minutes on the clock, for a late foul on Udoh. The skipper had to see out more than 80 minutes treading a fine line.
The Railwaymen began to find their feet in the game and attack the Shrewsbury goal, Powell’s low driven effort forced Matija Sarkic into his first save of the evening.
The Stoke-On-Trent born, Ryan Wintle and Oli Finney got in on the action as they both struck from range with Finney’s deflected effort forcing Sarkic to adjust his feet, but the Shrews stopper was able to collect.
Just before the half hour mark, the Alex did take the lead as Johnson’s threatening delivery into the six-yard area, required Ebanks-Landell to make contact but he could only slice his clearance into the path of Dale at the far post. Once again, the winger was in the right place at the right time to capitalise on a poor defensive clearance and give the Reds the advantage.
Crewe began to find their feet in the game and with the addition of the goal this provided the Reds with confidence. Going in at the break the Alex led and had a big second half ahead.
Towards the end of the half, Town winger, Shaun Whalley, joined Pickering in the referee’s notebook.
Half Time: Shrewsbury Town 0 – 1 Crewe Alexandra
The home side began the second half much like the first, creating a couple of early sights at goal, with Whalley unleashing from range but his effort just whistled past the post. Moments later, from a similar position midfielder, Oli Norburn curled his effort at goal, but Richards showed his agility and was equal to it.
The home side continued to push for that equaliser and once again Richards needed to be alert, after a dangerous run from Nathaniel Ogbeta in which he unleashed a fierce shot towards the near post but, the Welshman managed to smartly tip the effort over.
Before that, Josh Daniels replaced Ryan Sears for the Shropshire side.
With 20 minutes remaining, it was certainly going to be a nervy ending for the Reds and moments later, Richards was forced into another smart save as Whalley tricked his way past Olly Lancashire and curled a 20-yard effort at goal.
Beckles’ frustration boiled in the final 15 minutes as he mistimed his challenge and so was cautioned for reckless play. He had been the victim of a few fouls throughout too!
Chapman was the next name into the referee’s notebook on 76 minutes for a cynical foul on Finney. Likewise, with the stoppage in play this prompted a double change for the Railwaymen with Tom Lowery and Walker replacing Finney and Powell.
With 10 minutes remaining, the Alex had to really dig in for that three points and to maintain their first clean sheet in 15 league games.
Equally, this meant throwing bodies on the line and taking one for the team and Lancashire did just that as Whalley looked to get away from him. The centre half joined his defensive partner in the book after catching the lively striker.
In the final knockings, Shrewsbury introduced attacker, Rekeil Pyke for defender Ro-Shaun Williams. Artell called on Chris Porter to defend from the front as he replaced workhorse, Mikael Mandron with minutes left.
A hard-fought display from the Alex which rewarded them with a superb three points and a clean sheet on the road.
Full Time: Shrewsbury Town 0 – 1 Crewe Alexandra
Man of the Match: Omar Beckles