Crewe Vagrants 2
CREWE swept into an early lead in their home clash against fellow-NHL Division One strugglers Didsbury on Saturday, but were unable to fulfil their initial promise, stubborn resistance from the visitors forcing them to wait until well into the second half to seal victory.
A textbook Chris Regan short corner conversion, slammed home for 1-0 just seconds after the opening whistle, got Vagrants off to a dream start.
But Didsbury soon gave notice with dangerous breaks that all was not going to be plain sailing, and the hosts were not helping themselves by failing to win tackles and repeatedly losing possession.
A further Crewe corner brought no reward, despite a flurry of shots, and they struggled to get forward, while a Didsbury break through a shaky-looking home defence forced a vital save at the other end from keeper Adam Shenton.
The visitors should have pulled level from a penalty flick, but fortunately for Vagrants dragged their shot wide.
The hosts remained under pressure, sending their passes dangerously astray in defence and conceding a corner, which thankfully again Didsbury could not convert.
James Taylor made a fine long run up the right flank for Crewe, but could not capitalize, and the visitors continued to threaten, forcing another crucial stop by Shenton from close range, and making the hosts’ slender lead look increasingly fragile.
Lucky to be still ahead, Vagrants had a chance to settle their supporters’ nerves with a corner a minute from half-time, only to see Didsbury scramble a clearance and break dangerously upfield.
Play see-sawed between halves in a fast-paced resumption, with Crewe pressing forward, but repeatedly losing possession and allowing Didsbury to clear and counter.
Far from extending their lead, Vagrants showed little passion and continued to look in danger of surrendering it, but an isolated flash of brilliance saw a rocketed shot from the right by Dave Holland saved by the visiting keeper.
The visitors went close, firing just past the post and Vagrants had another shot saved, but missed further scoring chances, failing to convert either of two successive corners.
Play continued to swing from end to end, with Crewe attacks constantly thwarted, fuelling fears that it could still be anyone’s game.
On 28 minutes, however, much to the hosts’ relief, following a long run down the left flank by Ed Beak, his cross was deflected into the Didsbury net for an own goal and 2-0 to Crewe.
The visitors refused to lie down, however, winning a corner, but were denied by a fine save by Shenton.
They then went close again, hitting the post.
A vital win for the home side, but far from easily achieved, with the eventual outcome nailbitingly in doubt for most of the game.