Report: Crewe Alexandra Under-23s 1 Blues Under-23s 0

Blues' Olly McCoy.

A goal 10 minutes after the break by Luke Offord proved to be enough.


Blues were narrowly defeated at Gresty Road in the PDL2.

A goal 10 minutes after the break by Luke Offord proved to be enough.

Blues turned the screw for long spells towards the end as Crewe were handicapped by having a man light due to Christopher Dagnall taking himself off due to a niggle with all their substitutes used.

But it wasn't to be for the young Development Side, who ended up with 10 men themselves as Olly McCoy had to come off with a minute remaining.

Blues, playing an experimental 3-2-4-1 formation initially, took a little while to settle.

They lined up with Joe Redmond in the middle of the back three flanked by Remeao Hutton and Ryan Burke.

Trialist striker Sam Ford, formerly of Ipswich Town and West Ham United, was given the duty at the top end of the pitch.

Crewe engineered some openings early on, with the best a wayward shot by Owen Dale after he was played into the left of the area from a short corner.

McCoy, on his 20th birthday, was bright for Blues, forcing the Crewe defence into backpedalling action with a series of probing runs on the left.

But as the opening quarter passed neither 'keeper had been seriously troubled.

From a ball behind the full-back by Odin Bailey, McCoy got in and delivered a low near post cross that Ford couldn't quite touch him as he attacked the space.

Richard Beale and Stuart English, Blues Head of Academy Football who was assisting, altered Blues shape as the half wore on to a 4-2-3-1, with Geraldo Bajrami dropping from a holding role to make up the back four.

Blues began to enjoy more possession but on the flip side also had to keep their wits about them defensively as Crewe maintained an eagerness and willing when in the final third.

Charlie Kirk fired just over Connal Trueman's crossbar from the edge of the box after a free-kick routine from the right.

And McCoy, coming inside from the left, let fly with a 25 yarder that clipped the roof of the netting on its way over.

But despite some promising openings, there was no clear cut opportunities for either side, hence the deadlock at the break.

Crewe went close immediately after the interval when Harry McKirdy cut back on two challenges on the left-hand side of the box and arched a shot not too far away from the opposite top corner.

Then, in the 55th minute, the home side drew first blood.

Charlie Kirk spotted a run down the left channel by Offord, who took the ball in his stride in the Blues area before shaping a shot past Trueman high into the net; it was a smart finish.

Blues made a change immediately, bringing on Kieron Dawes for his competitive Under-23s debut and moving Hutton higher up the pitch into the position vacacted by McFarlane.

Tommy Anderson almost nipped in to a pass by Ford, but the two Crewe centre-halves did well to shut him out as he tried to break into the box.

Trueman did well to get down low to the left to push out a close range header by Kirk, who got on the end of a cross from the right.

The game began to open up and as Blues increased their urgency levels. The outcome remained very much in the balance, although the experienced heads in the hosts team made a difference.

Hutton became an increasingly influential figure for Blues, gaining good ball and attacking with intent down the right flank as Crewe were reduced to 10 men,

Nick Okoro made his competitive bow for the Under-23s with 14 minutes left, replacing Anderson and going up front to support Ford.

Blues strived and often forced things in pursuit of the equaliser as Crewe's backline stood firm.

Bailey had a pot shot from 22 yards not too far wide and despite stretching the play and getting plenty of crosses in, that finishing touch proved elusive.

As Blues gambled at the death, shoving Bajarmi up front as well, Crewe broke and Oliver Finney blazed over from 10 yards after the ball was reversed into his path in the third minute of added-time.

Blues: Trueman, Hutton, Redmond, Bajrami, Burke, Boyd-Munce, McFarlane (Dawes 55), Anderson (Okoro 76), Ford, Bailey, McCoy.
Substitute not used: Funnell.