Nathan Ellington scores for Crewe to almost give an away win for the railwaymen, but Wigan Athletic substitute Rakish Bingham made sure Latics got a share of the spoils.
WIGAN ATHLETIC U21s 1
CREWE ALEXANDRA U21s 1
‘The Duke’ Nathan Ellington returned to the town and almost gave Latics an unwelcome returning gift as he netted to give Crewe Alexandra a first half lead but, substitute Rakish Bingham came to the rescue as he headed home to earn Latics a late draw.
Graham Barrow himself had some senior heads to choose from as Callum McManaman, Fraser Fyvie and Adrian Lopez were on hand with their first team experience.
It was a frantic start to the game as possession between the sides was given up.
Ellington was involved from the off as he showed some quality touches that brought back memories of his time in blue and white stripes.
The visitors gave Latics plenty to think about in the first 15 minutes as Marko Marosi had to be quick to the ground to gather a shot across goal from Crewe’s Andy White.
On 18 minutes it was Ellington’s time to make his mark and after sniffing out a defensive mistake as Latics failed to clear 20 yards out, the Duke stole the ball, advanced on goal and slotted it under Marosi’s body to show he’s still got that clinical instinct that got him 67 goals during his time at Wigan Athletic.
Latics were made to work for possession as the first half wore on but chances were hard to come by in the first 45 and Crewe’s defence limited the hosts to shots from outside the area.
Immediately after the break Crewe almost made it 2-0 when chaos was created in Latics’ area as a shot across goal was parried by Marosi into the path of Max Clayton, his shot through a crowd of players was stopped on the line by Callum Morris but the half clearance lifted up into the air.
Morris was on hand again from the resulting Crewe header as he himself nodded it off the line, only for the ball to bounce down again and with Crewe players running in to score, Marosi knocked the ball onto the post and back into his grateful arms.
If one scramble wasn’t enough, Latics then had three at the other end.
First came Latics best chance of the match when Ste Boothman stretched to shoot inside the area and saw his shot deflect up off a Crewe defender and onto the bar.
Then it was the turn of Callum McManaman to be at his usual tricky self as he dribbled through two players in the area and lashed his shot at Crewe keeper Alan Martin from an acute angle down the left, with Martin parrying the ball back to McManaman and saving again this time with his feet as the 21-year-old had another go.
McManaman went on to create the third opportunity as he sprinted down the left wing and cut the ball back across the box for Ryan Watson who saw his shot blocked, it then fell away to Tim Chow who saw two shots blocked as Crewe defended for their lives.
Just before the hour mark McManaman was replaced by Rakish Bingham and Fyvie replaced by Filip Orsula and the onslaught on Crewe’s goal continued.
Adam Buxton had two chances to level the scores at the back post as twice corners were swung in by Boothman but pressure put the central defender off as he couldn’t reach the first and headed the second just wide.
Boothman himself then went close from 20 yards as he curled a brilliant free kick towards Martin in the Crewe goal who tipped the ball onto the post.
With time running out on 83 minutes, Buxton was again denied the equaliser when he stayed forward from a set piece and attempted to curl the ball right footed from the left edge of the area, only for a deflection to force Martin into another outstanding stop as the ball headed towards the top corner.
Three minutes later the goal that had threatened all afternoon finally came.
Watson’s corner from the left avoided defenders and forwards before reaching Morris at the back post.
Morris then cutely clipped the ball up into the danger zone and up rose Bingham above the defence to loop his header just where Martin couldn’t reach it and into the top corner.
A winner was certainly on the cards with two minutes to go and it was Crewe’s last ditch blocking that thwarted Latics, with Watson and substitute Josh Sumner both desperately volleying efforts to try and claim a late three points.
The point didn’t reflect the attack versus defence nature of the second half but it means that Latics remain unbeaten at home this season in the Professional Development League Two North.
Latics: Marosi, Campabadal, Boothman, Buxton, Lopez, Morris, Chow, Fyvie (Orsula 59), McManaman (Bingham 59), Johnson (Sumner 69), R, Watson
Unused subs: Cottrill, Ainscough
Crewe: Martin, Tootle, White, Nolan, Ray, Gorman, West (Waters 66), Turton, Ellington, Clayton, Colclough (Appleton 80)
Unused sub: Wilson
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