REPORT: Wanderers v Crewe Alexandra

Eoin Toal made his Wanderers’ debut and midfield man Josh Sheehan a welcome return to action as the Whites made a winning start to their Papa Johns Trophy campaign.

Amadou Bakayoko’s first goal of the season and a late second-half double from substitute Dion Charles, wrapped around Kieran Sadlier’s fine finish, gave Wanderers maximum points in their Group B opener.

The margin of victory against the League Two side could have been far greater as Wanderers created a near non-stop flow of chances from a slick performance.

But after three successive defeats in league and cup this was a welcome tonic for a much-changed Wanderers’ line-up.

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And as well as the four goals and a step towards the knock-out stages, the hour-long outings for Toal and Sheehan were further major pluses.

A minor knock delayed Lloyd Isgrove’s planned return, but Toal looked imposing on his first start since his signing from Derry City in the summer, while Sheehan made a classy comeback in his first home appearance since scoring against Crewe in League One last November.

Toal and Sheehan were two of eight players brought into what was a still a powerful-looking Wanderers’ line-up and the Whites should have been out of sight by half-time.

Bakayoko gave Ian Evatt’s men the perfect start when he seized on a mistake just five minutes in before taking his time to make space and steer home a neat left-footed finish from eight yards out.

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That looked like it would pave the way for a comfortable night as Wanderers attacked at will but with a quarter of an hour gone they allowed Crewe an equaliser as Courtney Baker-Richardson beat Joel Dixon to an Oli Finney cross to head home.

Normal service was swiftly resumed as Wanderers moved the ball around neatly to constantly open up the visitors’ defence.

But they were unable to add the finishing touch as the Railwaymen survived to the break.

Bakayoko should have doubled his tally but Dave Richards was able to keep out his sliding, close-range effort after George Johnston had run onto Sheehan’s lovely pass to drive the ball across goal.

Sheehan was enjoying his return to action, delivering another pin-point delivery for Dapo Afolayan to see a header blocked.

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And Sheehan also went close himself with an effort he curled just wide, while Crewe skipper Richards led by example with a crucial touch to a George Thomason effort and superb save to deny Afolayan as he cut in and aimed for the bottom corner.

Wanderers weren’t quite as fluent after the break, although it still felt a matter of time before they regained the advantage.

And with half an hour to go Evatt made a multiple change to spread the workload as his side tried to force the breakthrough.

Two of the substitutes, Charles and Elias Kachunga, had sights of goal as the Whites again camped around the Crewe penalty area.

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And even though neither could take those chances, when the pair combined with 12 minutes to go the winner finally came.

Kachunga picked out his strike partner with a perfectly weighted pass down the middle and Charles did the rest, showing great strength and desire to hold off a defender and round Richards to slide the ball home.

It took something special to beat Richards who then produced three superb saves in quick succession to deny Charles, Kachunga and Conor Bradley and prevent Wanderers from running riot.

The pressure had to tell, though, and added two more inside the final 10 minutes to more accurately reflect their control.

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Sadlier made it 3-1 when he played a lovely one-two with Kachunga before curling a powerful effort past Richards and Charles then rounded off an excellent night’s work when he slid in to convert Jack Iredale’s low cross.

Wanderers: Dixon; Aimson, Toal (Santos 60), Johnson; Jones (Bradley HT), Sheehan (Williams 60), Thomason, Iredale; Sadlier; Afolayan (Charles 60), Bakayoko (Kachunga 60). Substitutes: Morley, Bradley, Dempsey.

Booked: Aimson

Crewe Alexandra: Richards; Mellor (Offord HT), Sass-Davies, Williams, C Finney; Leshabela, Griffiths (Ainley 72); Tabiner, O Finney (King 72), Sambou; Baker-Richardson (Agyei HT). Substitutes: Okonkwo, McDonald, Thomas.

Booked: None

Referee: Scott Oldham

Attendance: 2,115 (111 Crewe)

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Read Time: 4 mins