Alex earn narrow advantage

Adam Dugdale's header earned Crewe a 1-0 advantage over Southend in the first leg of their League Two play-off semi-final at Gresty Road.

Last Updated: 12/05/12 at 22:20 Post Comment

Dugdale: Celebrates his winner

Dugdale: Celebrates his winner

More of the games that matter

Upgrade in minutes or watch with a NOW TV Day Pass.

Following a first half of few chances, Alex centre-back Dugdale headed home Ashley Westwood's 49th-minute free-kick to end the visitors' run of five consecutive clean sheets and send Gresty Road into raptures.

It was no less than Steve Davis' side deserved as they extended their unbeaten run to 17 matches by outplaying a Southend team who recorded a league double over them this season.

Paul Sturrock's men also headed into the game in a rich vein of form, winning four of their last five to miss out on automatic promotion by a point, but turned in a subdued performance.

Michael Timlin, Bilel Mohsni and Ryan Hall all went close as a belated rally arrived from Southend, but they emerged with nothing to take back to Roots Hall for Wednesday night's second leg.

Crewe skipper David Artell was a surprise absentee due to a broken bone in his foot, while right-back Carl Martin returned from a 12-game absence to leave Billy Bodin among the substitutes and Matt Tootle deployed in an unfamiliar left-midfield role.

Kane Ferdinand replaced Freddy Eastwood in Southend's only change.

Tootle made the most of his attacking license in the opening exchanges and almost got on the end of Byron Moore's dangerous eighth minute cross, Southend full-back Sean Clohessy on hand to clear behind.

Ajay Leitch-Smith was narrowly beaten to Tootle's through-ball by U's goalkeeper Cameron Belford before strike partner Nick Powell was crowded out following some clever footwork in the area.

In the 23rd minute Belford did well to punch Powell's left-wing centre to safety as Luke Murphy's late run left him momentarily unsighted.

Southend edged their way into the contest after the half-hour and Ferdinand headed over from Hall's 41st-minute cross, but half-time arrived without Belford or opposite number Steve Phillips being overly troubled.

Hall had a shot blocked following a deft outside-of-the-foot pass from Mohsni as Sturrock's men began the second period with greater intent, only to fall behind.

There appeared to be little danger when Westwood launched a speculative ball into the United area, but Dugdale rose majestically to send a looping header beyond Belford into the far corner.

Crewe sought to press home their advantage with the visitors wobbling, and Tootle just failed to find the decisive touch from another raking Westwood delivery.

Belford produced a phenomenal save to push a Leitch-Smith effort over the bar in the 66th minute after a long clearance split the Southend defence.

Southend finally enjoyed a clear opportunity with 20 minutes remaining when Mohsni cushioned a header to the onrushing Michael Timlin, but Phillips parried well.

Mohsni - who scored three of his 13 league goals this season against Alex - then nodded over at the back post before Hall fizzed a 20-yard drive wide and Crewe held on.

Football365 Facebook Fan Page

The Football365 fan page is a great place to meet like minded people, have football related discussions and make new friends.

More Match Results

Tuesday, 03 March 2015
19:45
AFC W'don 0-0 Southend Report
Accrington 1-2 Shrewsbury Report
Bury 1-0 Luton Report
Cambridge Utd 0-3 York City Report
Carlisle 1-0 Cheltenhm Report
Dag + Red 2-0 Hartlepool Report
Newport 0-1 Mansfield Report
Northamptn 1-0 Portsmth Report
Oxford Utd 1-1 Morecambe Report
Stevenage 1-0 Plymouth Report

Footer 365

Ryan Giggs enjoys working with Louis van Gaal; plays down rift reports

Manchester United assistant manager Ryan Giggs has played down talk of a rift with Louis van Gaal and hailed their "great working relationship".

Mesut Ozil defended by Arsene Wenger after Paul Scholes criticism

Arsene Wenger claims Paul Scholes "would have loved to play with Mesut Ozil".

Football Association names Martin Glenn as its new chief executive

The Football Association has named Martin Glenn as its new chief executive.

Mail Box

Why All The Hate For Robin Van Persie?

One Mailboxer can't work out why everyone is having a pop at Robin van Persie. Plus FA Cup anticipation, changing relegation, a Friday song and more Totti love...

Is Sissoko's Neck Very Distinctive?

Moussa Sissoko features in a really quite bizarre Distinctive Physical Features XI while we have mails on sexism, Angel Di Maria and Francesco Totti. Ramdom.

© 2015 Sky Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media company