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Pitman on Target But U23s Held By Crewe
Monday, 20th Mar 2017 22:38 by James Ager

A strong Town U23 side featuring a number of senior players were held to a 1-1 draw by a relatively youthful Crewe Alexandra team at Portman Road on Monday evening, Brett Pitman netting the Blues goal shortly after having had a penalty saved.

Josh Emmanuel, Myles Kenlock and Paul Digby were all part of Town's backline, while Dominic Samuel started up front with Freddie Sears, Pitman and Jonny Williams - back after suffering a minor hamstring injury in the U23s a fortnight ago as he made his comeback after shoulder surgery - all playing in behind the on-loan Reading striker, who was returning to action after his broken toe.

Michael Crowe was called into action early on when the ball fell kindly for Daniel Udoh on the edge of the box, but the frontman shot straight at the Town stopper.

Minutes later Pitman's diving header from Sears's left-wing cross was deflected over, shortly before the former Bournemouth man picked up a yellow card for a cynical foul.

Pitman was given the perfect opportunity to put the Blues ahead on 27 when Oliver Finney's sliding challenge felled Williams inside the area, but visiting keeper Andrew Dawber dived to his left and pushed the spotkick round the post.

However, Adam McDonnell's corner from Town's right found its way to the back post where Pitman made amends and tucked the ball into the net from close range.

Crewe responded well and Crowe beat away two Udoh efforts, the second of which fell to Callum Ainley on the edge of the box but the midfielder blazed his follow-up shot well over.

As half-time approached, a sloppy pass from Emmanuel released Callum Saunders - watched by his father Dean from the stands - and he fed strike partner Udoh, but Town captain Chris Smith got back just in time to block the number 10's goal-bound shot.

Within a minute of the restart James Blanchfield's cross from the right was powerfully headed towards goal by Pitman but Dawber clawed the ball away from the bottom the corner.

Kenlock was then replaced by Pat Webber after picking up an injury, and the Town left-back hobbled straight down the tunnel for some further medical attention.

On 54 the visitors netted a deserved equaliser after Digby had conceded possession on the edge of the Town box. Udoh, who had posed a constant threat all night, fired a shot into the bottom corner which gave Crowe no chance.

Emmanuel's left-foot shot was blocked for a corner and Smith's header was deflected just over the bar, before Williams and Samuel were both withdrawn in what appeared to be a pre-planned double substitution which saw Sears move upfront alongside Pitman.

The visitors were looking more and more dangerous going forwards and it was only another fine block from Smith that kept the scores level after Owen Dale had been picked out at the back post by Udoh.

As stoppage time approached, Ryan Wintle's 20-yard freekick fell at the feet of Perry Ng but Crowe produced an excellent save to react and push the Crewe captain's effort away from danger.

Town had failed to create anywhere near as many chances in the second period but in the second minute of added time, Pitman's chipped cross was somehow headed back across goal by an unmarked Sears when it appeared easier to score, and McDonnell then fired just wide of the target.

Despite the very late pressure from Town they didn't do enough for the win and Crewe will probably feel they should have taken all three points, with the Blues having Crowe and Smith to thank for some excellent defensive work.

Samuel and Williams will have been pleased to get some much-needed minutes under their belts but neither saw enough of the ball to contribute a great deal. Pitman and Sears worked hard but both were well-marshalled by a pacy Crewe defence.

U23s: Crowe, Emmanuel, Kenlock (Webber 48), Digby, Smith, Williams (McKendry 71), McDonnell, Blanchfield, Samuel (Morris 71), Pitman, Sears. Unused: Folami, Wright.

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Gforce added 23:00 - Mar 20
Seven first team players in the side,but we still can't beat Crewe reserves.
Sums us up at the moment.

budgieplucker added 23:03 - Mar 20
Largely agree with the above report. Michael Crowe and Josh Emmanuel were towns best to players for me. Pitman and Freddie played up front during the second half and sadly didn't look the threatening. Ironically Freddie looked far more comfortable as a winger in the first half. One or two nice touches from Johnny Williams but nothing spectacular. Pat Webber looked reasonably accomplished when he came on and put in a nice couple of runs. Have seen McDonnell and Blanchfield on other occasions and felt they have done very well, however tonight they looked a bit laboured and hard to see them making a first team break through any time soon, although to be fair to Crewe they looked a far more compact side and played the ball around with more confidence. Dominic Samuel looked very quiet. All in all a disappointing performance on a cold night.

Mark added 23:22 - Mar 20
The senior players ought to take a look at themselves. We should have won by 3 or 4 goals with that line up, it's half way to our first team. Dreadful.

shakytown added 23:56 - Mar 20
the whole club is on a downward spiral into oblivion. Serious changes to the management and structure needed immediately.

muccletonjoe added 04:46 - Mar 21
And some people wonder why we are at the wrong end of the table. Maybe we have a couple of players good enough for this league. The rest are just about the level of crewe reserves. Frightening.

harlingblue added 05:50 - Mar 21
Last night's U23 game was like watching a MM FA Cup selection, a mish mash of players that play for the club but with a totally different style of play. The U23 side normally play good football at their level, with Dozzel, Nyam controlling midfield (missing tonight on International duty) and with Patterson (injured) and Morris (very late sub) scoring the goals.
Thoughts of tonight: Crowe saved us tonight, but his parried saves must be shots held, like Bart. 1st team squad players: Williams way off the pace, Sears has lost his way, Pitman always the preditor, Kenlock very good until injured. Emmanuel should be coached to be a centre forward, has the physical prowess, skill and pace to nail that position. I also thought Samuel was good on the ball, made great runs that were never seen by a poor midfield.

DurhamTownFan added 06:21 - Mar 21
Completely forgot that we had Samuel! Another pointless loan signing made in desperation

Dissboyitfc added 06:57 - Mar 21
The second from last paragraph could have been taken from just about any first team game, the other side felt unfortunate not to get all three points with the keeper to thank. Worrying times, i can only think they werent up for it! Should have been comfortable.

Che added 07:46 - Mar 21
No one moaned when we won 8. 0 the other week.

Cloddyseedbed added 07:57 - Mar 21
Poor performance once again from a Town team. Agree with earlier post Emmanuel and Crowe pick of a very poor bunch of players lacking skill, effort, tactics and passion. None of these players looked like they wanted to get out of the U23's team to play in the 1st team. A game once again played with absolutely no midfield presence. The team had no balance, looked shaky in defence, nobody to pass out of defence to who could use the ball and toothless in attack and this was against a well organised Crewe team. Yes a Crewe team, what division do they play in again and this was there second team!! I really think were down this year I really can't see us surviving in the Championship with the players we have and the manager and owner. Everybody looks to have given up from the owner down to the players. Absolute freefall of the club. What a hell of a good idea to put the season tickets up Evans!!! You have destroyed our club.

midastouch added 08:49 - Mar 21
No Rowe? Was he injured or being held in reserve for the first team? I'm convinced we should put him in the first team as we need to try something different. He has pace and is very direct which might create a rare chance or two as we are crying out for somebody to open the opposition up. I realise he's making a big step up coming up from non-league but from what I've seen of him he looks a much better option than most of our current first team players that have sadly gone stale.

Bluetone added 08:52 - Mar 21
Nothing will change until McCarthy goes then we need a U23 team, an academy and a first team squad playing the same style of football (please note NOT hoofball). Then the supporters might come back to watch entertaining and exciting football played by our club.

To achieve this we need a manager who believes in proper football not just proper blokes..

Pilgrimblue added 09:43 - Mar 21
Any Crewe players worth looking at for future?

PJewellisaGod added 09:47 - Mar 21
Crowe MOM for me. Not sure why Emmanuel is getting so much praise, he passed it back to Saunders TWICE during the game giving him two clear cut chances and was beaten too often by Crewe players. He did pull off a shot at one point but it skewered off his foot and came to nothing. Thought Smith was our best defensive player.

midastouch added 10:17 - Mar 21
And this is the sort of owner Marcus Evans could learn a lot from!
"German on a mission to give English game back to the working classes
Bradford’s co-owner says he plans to sell Premier League tickets for £1, should he get there" Source:

Surco72 added 11:33 - Mar 21
This has been my point for a long time the club has no direction under MM , players at all levels should be playing to a system so when they step up or are called upon they know how each other play . Howe is doing this at Bournemouth for all age groups throughout the club .
Our first team do not seem to know what they are doing or what system we play and it now appears the players are no longer putting the effort in either , drifting on like this without a decision from the club on next season is only doing us harm

StowTractorBoy added 11:47 - Mar 21
Very sad days at ITFC and agree with others that the morale around the place and the inability to create chances and thus score goals will cost us dear. There really is a real possibility of relegation out of the Championship and based on last night we had no outfield saviours on display. This is a very sad low for our once great Club and just hope we can scrape over the line this season but am not too hopeful at the moment. Sad days indeed.

Bluetone added 11:49 - Mar 21
@coolcat I note you have only been a supporter for some 4 years which could explain how easily satisfied you are. Others of us who have followed the Town since the days of Scott Duncan have learned to expect better.

BlueSmith94 added 11:57 - Mar 21
Lets not forget we did recently win 8-0.... and we drew against Crewe 1-1. Im more worried about the fact our first team players are having to play for the U23's. We have got alot of promising players coming through, we are not going to win every game! Some fans need to stop being so dramatic!!

braveblue added 12:09 - Mar 21
Shambles from top to bottom.

dirtydingusmagee added 12:50 - Mar 21
first team players ! that's flattery. .ITFC is a club of the ''living dead'' top to bottom owner ,manager and most of team are like Zombies now .

Cloddyseedbed added 13:37 - Mar 21
BlueSmith94 and that my friend is the mindset MM has got you into. We are not going to win every game!! I'd like us to have an attitude of we should look to try like hell to win every game!

Steve_ITFC_Sweden added 14:02 - Mar 21
midastouch: Exactly what we need. German football shows the way on many fronts. (Hope we beat them on Wed. night, however).

Battyboy added 14:02 - Mar 21
unfortunately the under 23s play better as a team when there's only the 23s and under playing!!!

jas0999 added 17:52 - Mar 21
... Looking more and more by the day that the prices increases are justified ... !!

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