Crewe Alexandra struck three times in the last fourteen minutes to earn themselves a Johnstone’s Paint Trophy northern area final against Coventry City next month following a 4-1 victory over much-changed Bradford City at Gresty Road.
The Bantams took an early lead through Kyle Reid but Byron Moore equalised on the stroke of half-time before crossing for substitute Max Clayton to head the home side in front. On loan duo Brad Inman and Chuks Aneke both then scored during the closing moments to finally settle any doubt.
Goalkeeper Alan Martin was recalled by the hosts and collected an early header from Tom Naylor before allowing a Reid strike from distance through his grasp as the visitors went ahead on eighteen minutes.
Crewe’s response had AJ Leitch-Smith having an effort ruled out for an offside decision against Mathias Pogba, who then headed an inviting Kelvin Mellor cross wide. And they equalised right at the end of the opening half when Moore’s delivery deflected over the helpless Jon McLaughlin. Leitch-Smith was then denied by the Bradford keeper and Inman could only find the side-netting on the rebound.
The Alex made a change at the break with Steve Phillips taking over in goal from Martin after suffering a foot injury earlier in the contest. Alan Connell could have soon tested him following decent work from latest signing Andy Gray. But his opposite number McLaughlin was certainly stretched when tipping over from Inman while Matt Tootle’s deflected shot found the base of an upright and Moore’s follow-up was somehow charged down.
Both Leitch-Smith and Inman next cleared the target for the home side until Clayton headed in Moore’s cross at the near post to give them the lead with thirteen minutes remaining. The teenager then had another header ruled out for offside following further good work from Moore while substitute Nahki Wells and Zavon Hines both threatened at the other end after their keeper McLaughlin had already thwarted Inman.
However, Aneke delivered a superb though ball for Inman to produce a calm finish on 89 minutes before the former linked neatly with Clayton and crashed in another moments later to confirm a rather flattering margin of victory.
Crewe Alexandra: Martin (Phillips 46), Mellor, Davis, Dugdale, Tootle, Murphy, Osman, Inman, Moore, Pogba (Aneke 71), Leitch-Smith (M. Clayton 64)
subs (unused): Ellis, Robertson
Goals: Moore (44), M. Clayton (77), Inman (89), Aneke (90)
Bradford City: McLaughlin, Dickson (McHugh 84), Naylor, Good, Ravenhill, Reid, Jones, Doyle, Turgott, Gray (Hines 66), Connell (Wells 66)
subs (unused): Duke, Brown
Goals: Reid (18)
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