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Football friendly - Leek Town 1 Crewe Alexandra 1

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: July 25, 2014

Leek Town's Karl Espley (right) challenges Crewe's Billy Waters.

Leek Town's Karl Espley (right) challenges Crewe's Billy Waters.

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DESPITE being without six players, Blues held Alex to a draw at Harrison Park on Friday, in their latest pre-season friendly.

Crewe held the upper hand for much of the game but Leek defended well.

However, Blues could do nothing about the Alex's opening goal – a stunning half-volley that gave keeper Ben Chapman no chance shortly before the half-time whistle.

The hosts drew level early in the second half with a fine strike from Liam Shotton, less than three minutes after he had come on as a substitute.

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After the game, Blues boss Lee Casswell said: "That was another good performance.

"We knew we would be without the ball for much of the game but when we did get it, we showed we could retain possession against a League One outfit. We were a little short-handed today, with six players missing, but I was pleased with the performances of Ash Jackson, Rhys Thompson, Andy Kinsey and Matt Bell in arguably the best pre-season friendly since I've been at the club."

Blues were without Dan Smith, Isaac Cooper, Ryan Dicker, Ant Danylyk, Niall MaGuire and Sean Kinsella.

However, Casswell sprung a surprise by putting former Kidsgrove striker Liam Shotton on the bench following his return from playing in Singapore, whilst former Grove winger Cohen Bramall won a place in the starting line-up along with Andy Kinsey, who made his first appearance of the summer.

Leek exerted some early pressure, with Matt Bell crossing into the box following a corner.

The ball skimmed off the head of a defender in the six-yard box and Toby Mallarkey was forced to head clear under pressure.

Crewe's first attack came in the fifth minute when Lee Molyneaux pulled the ball to George Cooper, who picked out Vidanne Oliver, whose towering header was ruled offside.

Ben Chapman was called upon in the 21st minute with a superb save to deny Molyneaux whilst at the other end, Alex keeper Ben Garratt had to be at his best to keep out a good effort by Bramall.

Chapman made another good save to thwart Cooper in the 35th minute but Crewe went in front after Oliver struck a beauty over Chapman before dropping into the back of the net just two minutes later.

The visitors opened the second half on the attack but Blues countered with Tim Grice crossing from the right – but when the ball fell to Kinsey, he fired wide of the target.

However, within three minutes of replacing Kinsey, Shotton got his name on the scoresheet when Dan Shelley judged his run and the tall striker burst into the box to blast past the keeper for the equaliser.

In the 64th minute, Crewe introduced former Blues' winger John Johnston into the fray but he was well marshalled at the back by Ash Jackson. In the 74th minute, Paul Donnelley drove a free kick into the Alex box for Shotton, who held off a defender before seeing his shot deflected for a corner.

After twice going close, the visitors had a good chance to secure their first victory in three seasons at Harrison Park, when they won a free kick on the edge of the box – only for Molyneaux to fire hopelessly over the crossbar.

Leek Town: Chapman, Donnelly, Jackson, Thompson, Espley, Hall, Shelley, Bell, Kinsey, Grice, Bramall. Subs: Husbands, Shotton, Keates, Lowe.

Crewe Alexandra: Garratt, Mallarkey, Kearns, Noden, Audel, Ng, Waters, Jones, Oliver, Cooper, Molyneaux. Subs: Pritchard-Ellis, Shearer, Saunders, Johnston, Brown, Howell.

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