Posted: 05.10.21 at 22:21 by Gwyn Griffiths
AN Oli Finney volley and an own goal from Wigan's Scott Smith secured Crewe a victory which secures their place in the knockout phase of the Papa John's Trophy.
Only 925 hardy fans, 166 of them from Wigan, were on hand to witness a much-changed Alex side start well, and unlike on Saturday against Cambridge United, finish well - although there were one or two dramas, including Dave Richards being called upon to show his spot kick prowess by keeping out a Stephen Humphrys penalty.
Boss Dave Artell was almost as pleased with the improvement a side showing eight changes from the weekend had managed as he was with qualification from the group.
Callum McFadzean, Travis Johnson, Regan Griffiths and Madger Gomes got valuable 90-minute stints under the belts.
For Gomes it was his first action in a Crewe shirt and the Spaniard offered some glimpses of magic with some deft footwork. With the confidence to be bolder as he settles into the club he could be another dangerous asset like Spurs loanee J'Neill Bennett.
Artell said: "The result is important and qualifying helps but it was also about performing the right way and we did that. We learnt a lot from Saturday to take into the second half tonight - it could have been even more comfortable in the end.
"Wigan's front four were a handful but we kept them quiet by and large. Trig (Dave Richards) made an important save. Cambridge was disappointing, but we put another 45 minutes and then we didn't have a disastrous second half which is an improvement."
Finney was behind his marker to volley Crewe ahead in the 14th minute. The midfielder should have snaffled his second when Mikael Mandron steered the ball into his path at the far post just before the interval, but he got his feet tangled and the finish he skewed wide.
Youngster Griffiths went close twice, the second effort saw the midfielder draw a fine palm around from Latics keeper Sam Tickle.
But it wasn't funny when Terell Thomas was penalised for raising his arms at a close-range blast from Humphrys he could hardly have got out of the way for Wigan's 52nd-minute penalty award.
Yet Richards, drafted in for cup action, dived to his left to keep out the spot kick.
Then the game was effectively put out of reach of a Wigan side, completely changed from the one on League One duty at Gillingham at the weekend. Chris Porter may have to wait to try claiming his 50th Alex goal for his header was clearly diverted by Smith's head into the top corner on the hour mark.
Humphrys should have cut the arrears when he chased a high ball and glided past Richards in the closing minutes, but he could only steer his effort across the six-yard box from an acute angle.
"It was a poor penalty," added Artell. "If you're giving those when people are whacking it at you from three yards then there's going to be a lot of penalties.
"But Will [Jaaskelainen] and Trig do save a lot. They research the penalty takers and a lot of credit goes to our analyst John Dillon for the research he does too. It is more than just luck."
And of the squad rotation, the manager added: "You want to have decisions to make on team selection as it means you've got enough players in the squad that are capable of stepping up, which is important.
"I thought Madger [Gomes] looked good, he did well.''
Crewe: Richards; Johnson, Thomas, Offord, McFadzean; Lundstram; Griffiths, Finney, Gomes; Porter, Mandron. Subs: Jaaskelainen, Ramsay, Adebisi, Murphy, Robbins, Tabiner, Bennett.
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