Chuks Aneke scored a 79th minute winner as Crewe Alexandra began their defence of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy with a 1-0 victory against Accrington Stanley at Gresty Road.
The holders were able to move into the second round of the competition courtesy of on loan Aneke’s header from Matt Tootle’s inviting cross, in combination with a welcome first clean-sheet of the new campaign.
Goalkeeper Steve Phillips started for the first time this season in place of hip-injury victim Alan Martin. Gregor Robertson was also recalled at left-back. And veteran Phillips was required to turn over from Accrington skipper Luke Joyce while Seamus McCartan cleared the target in a decent start for the visitors,
Accrington’s only victory so far this season was certainly a surprise one – at Championship outfit Middlesbrough in the Capital One Cup. Indeed Stanley had lost their last four games without even managing a goal.
Crewe were moving the ball in possession but without too much final product, although Max Clayton headed against a post from an offside position early in the second-half. He also shot wide when combining neatly with Ryan Colclough, who then suffered an injury and had to be replaced by AJ Leitch-Smith.
There was some danger when visiting goalkeeper Ben Wilson struggled to take Tootle’s cross but neither Clayton nor Aneke could force the ball home. He wasn’t too seriously tested by Brad Inman’s next effort from inside the area.
However, with eleven minutes remaining the Accrington keeper was finally rescuing the ball out of the back of his net when Aneke got on the end of another Tootle delivery and headed in.
The visitors were forced to play the closing stages of the game with only ten-men after Michael Liddle limped out of the action and Leitch-Smith volleyed wide from former Stanley man Lee Molyneux’s pass.
Crewe Alexandra: Phillips, Tootle, Davis, Ellis, Robertson, Osman, Grant (Molyneux 65), Inman, Aneke, Colclough (Leitch-Smith 58), Clayton (Oliver 73)
subs (unused): Garratt, Mellor
Goals: Aneke (79)
Accrington Stanley: Wilson, Liddle, Aldred, Clark, Atkinson, Joyce (Miller 46), McCartan (Mahoney 61), Richardson, Mingoia, Webber (Hatfield 68), Gray
subs (unused): Bettinelli, Jenkins
Ref: T. Harrington
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