Photo by Jonathan White

Crewe Alex claimed the Barry Daly Memorial Trophy with a comfortable 4-1 victory over Nantwich Town at the Optimum Pay Stadium.

Ben Harrison headed wide from a corner after 6 minutes that was swung out by Caspar Hughes, then Regan Griffith forced the first save from Greg Hall.

Oli Finney smashed over shortly after, before Crewe also threatened from a corner, winning the flick on at the near post and 6 heading over, a decent opportunity.

The visitors didn’t have to wait much longer for their goal, Beckles who constantly harried the Nantwich right, pinged a low cross that was patted away by Hall, Onyeka hit a rebound against the post before slamming in on the second attempt.

Onyeka nearly added to his tally shortly after, zipping a shot wide of Hall’s left post.

Griffiths’ bright performance was marked with a goal for him, a fine finish that flew into the bottom left from about 20 yards, Hall could only watch as the net bulged.

Webb won the Dabbers another corner, and the familiar low routine had Crewe scrambling to clear.

Mandron thought he’d added a third but his dinked finish was denied by an offside flag, the referee did check to see if there may have been a Nantwich touch that played him in but the decision stood.

Nantwich nearly provided a chance for Mandron to make amends but he got under the shot.

Casper Hughes got the second half chances underway with a sliced shot off his weaker left foot, then on the hour mark a mad scramble saw the ball cleared off the Dabbers goal-line and a follow-up smashed wide.

Substitutions were a factor in this game as they typically are in pre-season, and Crewe’s whole new backline was breached on 65 minutes. Two Dabbers subs linked up, Joe Malkin squaring for Jack Hatton to tuck away his first for the club after a mix-up at the back.

The accompanying change of Dabbers formation to 3-5-2 almost paid off further as Callum Saunders’ header was excellently saved by Will Jaaskelainen.

The Alex’s quality soon began to shine through again, though, as on 75 minutes a dangerous low cross from  Joe Robbins slid through the hands of Hall to make it 3-1.

Other chances were spurned, woodwork struck and saves forced, but Crewe were able to add a fourth just before the end, Lundstram with a tidy finish back across sub keeper Lewis Terry.

At the end of the game, Alex manager Dave Artell was presented with the Barry Daly Trophy by some of Barry’s family to cap off a fine day.

With just under a thousand fans in attendance and a palpable sense of excitement for some other football that’s on today, you could say with certainty that non-league football had come home after months in hibernation.

Teams

Nantwich Town: Hall (Terry, 79), Bourne (Danquah, 79), Devine (Stair, 45), Langley, Harrison, Hughes (Pope, 79), Webb (Hatton, 60) , Lawrie, Heath (Walsh, 45), Cooke (Malkin, 45), Montefiori (Saunders, 45)

Subs: Mwasile, Boyle

Goal: Hatton, 65

Crewe Alexandra: (1st Half): Richards, Ramsay, Daniels, Offord, Johnson, Griffiths, Macdonald, Dale, Onyeka

(2nd Half): Jaaskelainen, Sass-Davies, Hoban, Adebisi, Robbins, Lundstram, Ainley, Murphy, Long, Porter, Kirk

Goals: Onyeka, 20,  Griffiths, 30,  Robbins, 75,  Lundstram, 89

Attendance: 946