Leonard and Crooks score in entertaining draw
Max Leonard and Matt Crooks scored as Steve Eyre’s under-21s recorded a hard fought draw at Crewe on Wednesday afternoon.
The Academy graduates scored to put Town 2-1 up at half-time before a late Crewe leveller earned the home side a point.
With Crooks playing just off Godwin Abadaki and Leonard in attack, the trio started in lively fashion and had Crewe on the back foot from the word go.
Midfielder Dale Hopson showed neat footwork to dance through the home side’s defence with just three minutes gone before he was crowed out as he went to pull the trigger.
The early pressure eventually told with Town taking the lead on nine minutes when Crooks stole in at the back past to prod home Leonard’s cross.
At the other end, Crewe tested Town’s debutant ‘keeper Ed Wilczynski in the 21st minute when its number 7 broke through the Terriers defence and hit a low effort, which the stopper did well to parry to safety.
Despite the home side’s pressure as the game passed the half hour mark it was the Terriers who should have doubled their advantage. Firstly, Abadaki shot over and then Jordan Sinnott forced the home team’s stopper into a smart save when maybe the square ball to Leonard would have been the better option.
Crewe did eventually draw level when its towering centre half swept home neatly from the edge of the area, but the lead didn’t last long. Within a minute of the restart, Crooks turned provider for Max Leonard to score his first of the season from eight yards.
The home side started the second 45 on the front foot, but were struggling to find a route in behind Town’s defence of Duane Holmes - who played in the unfamiliar right back slot in his first start for the Under-21 side - James Burke, Tom Smith and Robbie McIntrye.
Both Leonard and Crooks tried for Town around the hour mark before Crewe did finally get in behind Town, but the home striker dragged his shot horribly wide of the target. That pattern continued in the 72nd minute when they wasted another glorious chance to draw themselves level, but again the shot was wayward of the target.
Like the first half though, the pressure eventually told. Town failed to clear the ball on the edge of its area and Crewe’s tall central midfielder punished them, striking the ball low past the diving Wilczynski.
Crewe continued to dominate proceedings, but it was Town who had a chance to steal the three points at the death when Crooks lined up a shot from the edge of the area, but he failed to find the target.
Town’s team (4-3-1-2):
Ed Wilczynski; Robbie McIntrye, James Burke, Tom Smith, Duane Holmes; Jordan Sinnott (c), Dale Hopson, Scott Kay; Matt Crooks; Max Leonard (Paul Mullin, 81), Godwin Abadaki
Tom Briggs, Kedesh Goddard, Sam Guthrie