Jake Carroll and Duane Holmes score
Town’s Development Squad wasn’t at its fluent best in today’s Professional Development League 2 game against Crewe Alexandra at PPG Canalside, but still found a way to win thanks to a goal in each half.
Senior Professional Development Coach Frankie Bunn will have been disappointed to see his side go into half-time level after it failed to retain possession and gave Crewe the chance to level through a penalty, but in the end strikes from Jake Carroll and Duane Holmes secured a fifth straight win for the Under-21s; a seventh victory in the last eight fixtures.
Joe Lolley, Murray Wallace and Carroll (pictured above) all featured as the permitted overage outfield players to get valuable time in their legs in a game of few clear-cut chances played in windy conditions.
Visitors Crewe were neat and tidy in possession during the game, with a clear ethos of playing through the thirds starting with goalkeeper Liam Matthews and with captain Billy Waters looking to create from the number ten position.
The visitors contested the first 45 minutes evenly with the Terriers, but Frankie Bunn’s side had more of a threat in the attacking third.
Jake Charles had the first real opportunity of the game inside eight minutes for Town on his return from a hip injury, but after being put clear by Lolley he completely miscued his shot under pressure from centre back Anthony Stewart.
Murray Wallace – a clear voice from the backline throughout his time on the pitch – then beat the visiting goalkeeper to Ben Holmes lofted free-kick into the area, but his effort looped harmlessly wide.
The first goal followed in the 24th minute. Lolley started the move with a smart ball into the feet of striker Flo Bojaj; his lay-off found left back Jake Carroll overlapping into the area and when the Irishman came out of a challenge with the ball, he calmly swept it across the goalkeeper and into the far corner from around 12 yards out.
Crewe finally mustered an effort on target with five minutes of the half remaining when big centre half Jon Guthrie – one of their three overage players on display – headed a Waters corner into the waiting arms of Lloyd Allinson.
Charles had another effort after Carroll intercepted a poor Crewe pass inside Alex’s half barely a minute later, but the deflected effort was held by goalkeeper Matthews.
Sadly Town went into the interval on level terms after some poor game management failed to see out the minute of added time. The young Terriers lost possession cheaply and when Crewe midfielder Ryan Colclough burst into the area, young Academy right back Jacob Hanson dragged him to the floor.
Colclough, who has 34 First Team appearances for the Alex, picked himself up to convert the spot kick, despite Allinson getting a hand on his penalty.
That late equaliser seemed to boost the visitors, who were the better side for the first 25 minutes of the second-half. The dangerous Waters was the first to threaten, curling over from range in the 53rd minute.
Despite this, Town still carried a threat. Danish midfielder Philip Billing, who had a decent second-half, intercepted another errant pass inside the Crewe half barely a minute later before driving forward and attempting to chip the goalkeeper, over-hitting his effort over the crossbar.
Just before the hour mark Waters forced Allinson into the best save of the game; Town’s 21 year-old ‘keeper pushing a shot from 20 yards out around his right-hand post.
Scorer Colclough choked a poor effort into the outside of the side netting when well positioned with just over 20 minutes remaining, whereas soon after the away goalkeeper had to readjust to push another deflected effort from Charles around his near post.
The eventual winning goal came in the 73rd minute – and fell Town’s way. A pass into the right hand channel released the striding Billing and after checking back onto his favoured left foot, his deflected pull-back fell to midfielder Duane Holmes. The diminutive playmaker steadied himself before reversing his shot into the near post from 15 yards, leaving the goalkeeper rooted to the spot.
Goals change games, and after the second Bunn’s side re-established itself as the dominant force. Substitute Brad Carroll headed over a useful cross from midfielder Ben Holmes with five minutes left as Town moved the ball around well, with the best effort Crewe could muster being a 94th minute header from centre back Guthrie that Allinson comfortably pushed over his crossbar.
Lloyd Allinson, Jacob Hanson, Jake Carroll, Duane Holmes, Joe Wilkinson (c), Murray Wallace (Brad Carroll, 74), Ben Holmes, Philip Billing, Joe Lolley (Sondre Tronstad, 68), Flo Bojaj (Ben Atkinson, 74), Jake Charles
Sam Guthrie, Fraser Horsfall
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