An early goal in each half from skipper Luke Murphy and teenage forward Max Clayton took the honours as Crewe Alexandra emerged victorious from Wembley with a 2-0 scoreline for the second consecutive season against Southend United in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final.
Murphy had been a major doubt throughout the week with a groin injury but soon gave his side an early advantage when getting himself on the end of a corner after just six minutes. And Clayton added a second following Tamika Mkandawire surrendering possession early in the second-half.
The Alex appeared comfortable during the opening stages in the hallowed surroundings and Clayton soon had a low attempt blocked by goalkeeper Paul Smith. Then moments before the launch of a sixth-minute tribute of applause from both sets of fans for Crewe defender Adam Dugdale following the sad passing of his baby son last week, his colleagues went ahead. Byron Moore delivered a corner from the right which Harry Davis stepped over and the ball was expertly curled by Murphy into the top corner.
Southend responded with a number of corners of their own and centre-back Ryan Cresswell headed straight at recalled goalkeeper Steve Phillips as they continued to threaten from set-piece situations.
Britt Assombalonga next contested with Mark Ellis inside the area but calls for a penalty went unheeded before keeper Phillips cleared from the on loan Watford striker and then turned another cross over his crossbar. That was delivered and headed over by Mkandawire.
Both Murphy and Chuks Aneke tried distance efforts at the other end while Brad Inman saw a drive blocked before his side doubled their lead straight after the restart. Aneke seized possession and released Moore to calmly draw keeper Smith and leave Clayton with a routine finish.
However, United were far from dispirited and Davis blocked well after Gavin Tomlin stood up a cross for Bilel Mohsni. Assombalonga then had the ball in the net but his effort was disallowed for offside before also claiming handball against Ellis on the line. Alex replied with their goalscorer Clayton despatching an effort at keeper Smith before Ryan Colclough replaced the limping Inman.
But it was Southend substitute Barry Corr twice blocked by good rearguard work from Mellor and Matt Tootle, while Aneke saw a late effort diverted wide and Colclough was only kept out by the fingertips of Smith. Fellow replacement AJ Leitch-Smith then fired across goal before sending another shot against the underside of the crossbar during the final seconds.
Crewe Alexandra: Phillips, Mellor, Davis, Ellis, Tootle, Murphy, Osman, Aneke (Ray 90), Inman (Colclough 69), M, Clayton (Leitch-Smith 83), Moore
subs (unused): Martin, Turton
Goals: Murphy (6), M. Clayton (49)
Southend United: Smith, Clohessy, Straker, Cresswell, Prosser, Barker (Corr 57), Bilel (Reeves 57), Mkandawire (Eastwood 77), Hurst, Assombalonga, Tomlin
subs (unused): Bentley, Phillips
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