Crewe Alexandra’s starting eleven of Academy graduates helped gain an historic 2-0 victory to finally end Walsall’s long undefeated fifteen-game sequence at Gresty Road.
Both goals arrived during the final twelve minutes with skipper Luke Murphy converting a penalty and substitute Chuks Aneke then adding another with just five minutes remaining.
The Alex youngsters began with purpose and Byron Moore soon struck wide before Kelvin Mellor headed Murphy’s free-kick at visiting goalkeeper Sam Johnstone.
Walsall’s James Paterson curled behind at the other end while Febian Brandy was the first to test England youth shot-stopper Ben Garratt.
The nineteen-year-old debutant also collected an effort from distance by James Baxendale before Brandy shot wide immediately after the restart. Garratt was though helped out when Will Grigg next set-up Brandy to strike the base of an upright.
Baxendale tried his luck again but Garratt safely gathered, while two more attempts were deflected wide until the hosts made a couple of changes as Aneke and Brad Inman replaced AJ Leitch-Smith and Max Clayton.
That appeared to do the trick with keeper Johnstone being penalised for his challenge on Moore inside the area and Murphy doing the rest from twelve-yards, despite the protests from the visitors.
Seven minutes later it was effectively over as Aneke curled in for the second successive game after neat work involving Ryan Colclough and Inman.
Crewe Alexandra: Garratt, Tootle, Davis, Ray, Turton (Osman 83), Mellor, Murphy, Colclough, M. Clayton (Aneke 64), Leitch-Smith (Inman 64), Moore
subs (unused): Phillips, Ellis, Dugdale, Ellington
Goals: Murphy (pen 78), Aneke (85)
Walsall: Johnstone, Holden, Benning, Downing, J. Chambers, Featherstone, A. Chambers, Baxendale (Hemmings 79), Grigg, Paterson, Brandy (Westcarr 66)
subs (unused): Roberts, Purkiss, George, Mantom, Sawyers
Ref: C. Berry
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