Our U23s drew 1-1 in the Professional Development League at home against Crewe Alexandra on Tuesday afternoon, with Jack Sherlock’s first half opener cancelled out by a late equaliser for the visitors.
With U23s coach Martin Devaney being involved with the first team’s fixture at Nottingham Forest, Tom Harban took the reins for this match up.
The Reds came into the fixture off the back of a narrow defeat at Bramall Lane last time out and looked to leapfrog Alex who came into the clash in good form, with the Railwaymen beating Hull City 4-1 in their previous match.
Our young Reds nearly made a less than ideal start just after six minutes, with Daniel Jinadu’s attempted clearance being blocked by a Crewe forward and almost ricocheting into the back of the net. Thankfully for those in red, bodies on the line prevented an early opener for the visitors.
Barnsley responded well after this early scare however, with Joe Ackroyd coming close after a great piece of close control in the area allowed the midfielder to fire an effort goal-bound, but the strike didn’t have enough power to trouble the Crewe goalkeeper.
Aiden Marsh nearly found the opener after 26 minutes. Great hold-up play from a trialist allowed him to flick the ball up with his back to goal and play an aerial pass to Marsh in the area. The ball fell at a nice height for our young striker, whose subsequent volley was on target but the ‘keeper was equal to it.
Barnsley remained in control of the match and finally reaped their reward just before the break. Will Lancaster stood over a corner on the near side and delivered a teasing in-swinging delivery into the six-yard-box, causing chaos in the area. The ball bounced for Sherlock who poked home from close range to give the young Reds the lead going into the break.
HALF-TIME: Barnsley 1-0 Crewe Alexandra
Our U23s started the second half in a similar vein to how they played in the first, controlling possession and the tempo of the game.
A lovely passage of play for the Reds came just after the hour mark, with Lancaster being involved again. His floated pass out to the left found Hayden Pickard, who brought the ball down brilliantly and beat his marker cleverly with a nutmeg. The wing-back then delivered a wicked cross into the box which narrowly missed Kareem Hassan-Smith at the far post and was inches away from doubling Barnsley’s lead.
Crewe began to grow into the game in the second half, in the search for an all-important equaliser. The affair became scrappy as the stakes grew higher, with an abundance of fouls not helping to improve the flow of the game.
Alex got what they were looking for with ten minutes to play, after good work from Connor Salisbury allowed him to find space on the left to cut inside and sweep the ball into the bottom right-hand corner.
The goal opened up the game, with both sides having chances in the remaining minutes of the match. Crewe’s chance was arguably the better of the two, with a cut back from the by-line finding a visiting midfielder in space in the area, but he blazed his effort over the bar.
Sherlock nearly doubled his goal tally for the afternoon after a clever near post header nearly snuck into the net, but the goalkeeper read the situation well and was equal to it.
Lloyd Smith was introduced to the game with three minutes remaining in replacement of the goal scorer Sherlock, but the Reds were unable to find a winner in the dying embers.
FULL-TIME: Barnsley 1-1 Crewe Alexandra
REDS XI: Jinadu, Hassan-Smith, Pickard, Ariely, D Benson, Helliwell, Ackroyd, Lancaster, Trialist, Sherlock, Marsh.
Subs: Aziaya, Hall, Goucher, Hartley, Smith.