Shropshire Star

EFL Trophy: Crewe 3 Shrewsbury 4 - Report

Shilow Tracey was the hat-trick hero as he rescued an out-of-sorts defensive display to edge Shrewsbury Town the win in a seven-goal EFL Trophy thriller at Crewe.

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The on-loan Tottenham winger struck twice late on as Sam Ricketts’ men turned a topsy-turvy tie on its head to finish top of northern group C.

Crewe led 3-2 with 14 minutes remaining, having themselves come back from 2-0 down at Gresty Road in a tie where neither defence covered themselves in glory.

Matt Millar opened the scoring for the visitors with his first Town goal, before Tracey flicked a goalbound Ryan Barnett strike in for his first of the night.

The Alex struck twice to level before the break through Offrande Zanzala and Daniel Powell and more sloppy Town defending led to Powell edging the hosts ahead on the hour.

But Tracey would emerge the late hero, the 22-year-old bagging both his first Town goal and first senior hat-trick as Ricketts’ side marched on as group winners on an evening out-of-favour duo Sean Goss and Donald Love had rare runouts.

Eyes were on whether another winger, Shaun Whalley, would make his return from more than a month out injured to build up fitness for crucial league games ahead.

But there was no place for Town’s Np.7 in the starting XI as Ricketts opted for a heavily rotated squad consisting of seven changes from the side that started at Cambridge on Saturday.

Only goalkeeper Harry Burgoyne, Aaron Pierre, Ro-Shaun Williams and Josh Daniels remained in the starting line-up.

Ricketts did not name a natural striker in his side. Jason Cummings missed out through suspension while Daniel Udoh was handed a breather.

Daniels was deployed in an unfamiliar centre-forward role flanked by Barnett and Tracey.

There was a first appearance of the season for out-of-favour midfielder Sean Goss, who is not registered under the new salary cap squad rules but can feature in cup competitions.

Love, in a similar position, made the youthful bench that featured three academy youngsters and one less than was permitted on the bench.

Ricketts handed a first Shrewsbury start to Australian loanee Millar, who made his injury comeback with a brief cameo on Saturday.

The boss stuck with the new 3-4-3 system, with Josh Vela - who will serve the final of his three-match suspension against Swindon on Saturday - available to feature.

David Artell’s Crewe made nine changes from the side that progressed to the second round of the FA Cup by winning 3-2 at Bolton.

Just attacker Powell and midfielder Oli Feeney remained in their line-up. Former Town defender Omar Beckles, who swapped Shrewsbury for Crewe in the summer, was on the bench. Fellow ex-Town stopper Olly Lancashire returned from injury.

The Railwaymen, promoted from League Two last season, are 18th - four places better off than Salop - after a steady start to life back in the third tier.

But the hosts were almost caught cold in the opening moments as a sloppy pass out of defence by Eddie Nolan was seized upon by Daniels who could not quite take advantage.

Goss’ first action was to swing a free-kick from the left flank well over the crossbar.

Crewe were guilty of passing up a gilt-edged chance to lead after 10 minutes. A neat ball from Callum Ainley played Offrande Zanzala on goal but the Congolese frontman skewed his shot wide across goal.

Neither side were convincing in their own penalty area but Town were busy in other departments, Barnett, Millar and Tracey among those stretching their legs on lively runs.

Barnett broke well from halfway before sending a rising drive over before the visitors edged ahead on 17 minutes.

Jan Zamburek, from left wing-back, fed Barnett whose inviting cross was headed in powerfully by Millar who had timed his run well.

Crewe and Zanzala almost responded after some slack Salop defending but the striker prodded wide.

Goss provided a reminder of his dangerous set-piece deliveries and it was his corner, from which goalkeeper Dave Richards flapped, that Barnett’s crisp goalbound half-volley was turned in almost on the line by Tracey.

Barnett’s fine strike merited the goal but Tracey’s final touch opened his account in blue and amber.

Crewe were worthy of registering and pulled one back 10 minutes before the break as Regan Griffiths’ fine through ball was converted by Powell.

Zanzala spurned his third big chance shortly after as Burgoyne made a brave stop in the box.

But the Alex striker didn’t pass up his fourth chance, poking in amid an untidy close-range melee after Ethan Ebanks-Landell missed a clearance.

It had not been the Town defence’s finest first half.

Like Goss, Love was brought in for the cold and handed a surprise introduction for Millar at half-time.

Love’s first involvement was a deserved yellow card 120 seconds after entering as he attempted to get up to speed.

Salop loan winger Tracey caught the eye in a lively first-half display and picked up where he left off after the break.

The visitors’ first effort of a calmer second half came through Zamburek, who flashed a strike wide after a jinking run.

Shrewsbury conceded another poor goal on the hour. Zanzala broke through a lightweight Pierre challenge before the ball spun to Powell, who got the break against Burgoyne and slotted into an empty net.

Town required an improvement from the set-back with Ricketts demanding more from the dugout. A couple of promising opportunities to break fizzled out as the wrong option was taken.

A trademark Pierre 60-yard charge came to little but, with 15 minutes to go, a measured pass down the line from Love set Tracey clear. The wing flyer held off his defender before lifting a composed, dinked finish over Richards.

The contest was stretched with play pinging from one end to the other but Shrewsbury were playing with more conviction and Tracey turned the scoreline on its head again with his hat-trick goal, a tap-in after keeper Griffiths could only parry Goss’ fierce drive.

The tie was still alive and Powell was inches from a treble himself, thumping the post from a narrow angle, but there was to be no further sting in the tail on a memorable night for Tracey.


Crewe Alexandra (4-3-3):

Richards; Johnson, Lancashire, Nolan, Adebisi; Griffiths, Finney, Ainley; Powell, Zanzala, Dale.

Subs not used: Jaaskelainen (gk), Ng, Pickering, Wintle, Lowery, Kirk, Beckles.

Shrewsbury Town (3-4-3):

Burgoyne; Williams, Ebanks-Landell, Pierre; Millar (Love, 45), Goss, Zamburek, Vela; Barnett, Tracey (Lloyd, 89), J Daniels (Caton, 80).

Subs not used: Iliev (gk), High, Aris.

Referee: Declan Bourne

Attendance: Zero