31 January 2023

Dave Challinor keen for return to home comforts after tough derby draw

31 January 2023

Dave Challinor admitted Stockport will be glad to return to the green, green grass of home after his players battled for a point on Gresty Road’s scarred surface.

The poor quality of Crewe’s pitch also exasperated Alex boss Lee Bell, who saluted his side’s efforts as they remain unbeaten in four games in 2023.

Kyle Wootton cancelled out teenager Connor O’Riordan’s first senior goal for the hosts as honours were shared in the first meeting of the two sides in south Cheshire since County were relegated on their rivals’ ground in April 2011.

Crewe were ahead a minute before the break when defender O’Riordan made his mark in his third game since returning from a loan stint with Raith Rovers in the Scottish Championship.

The youngster was lurking at the far post to fire home first-time after Regan Griffiths’ corner was flicked on by Rod McDonald.

County levelled soon after the restart with a piece of clinical finishing from Wootton, who was played behind the home defence by a precise pass by Will Collar. The striker tucked the ball into the far corner past onrushing home keeper Dave Richards.

County boss Challinor said: “We let ourselves down from a set-play and this is a set-play league.

“But the pitch here doesn’t make for a good spectacle and it affects Crewe too as they have got technical players. We’re in the middle of winter as far as UK football is concerned and we know we have to apply yourself.

“These sort of pitches test you technically, but we’ll be glad to get home on Saturday and we know we are lucky there with what we’ve got.

“I don’t think we were good enough in the first half, but I was pleased how we improved in the second half.

“We need to build a team to have more control in games, but that was always going to be difficult tonight.

“The set-pieces are important and to concede from one in that manner is disappointing – and that is an understatement. But I was pleased with the reaction after that and Kyle scored a good goal.

“It meant we gave ourselves 45 minutes to get the winner, although we lost a bit of momentum after we scored.”

Crewe manager Bell said: “I thought it was a really good team performance in what were difficult conditions with the playing surface.

“You could see the signs of the progress we are making with the players against a team who normally dominate the tempo of play.

“That’s four games unbeaten for us and we are playing some difficult teams in that run. We’ve got home games to play, but we get nothing from them now and we’ve got to keep performing and be at it if we are going to maintain good performances.

“I was delighted for Connor as it had been a difficult decision with the skipper (Luke Offord) available again at the back. But he deserved to keep his place and that is what he has got to do to progress his career.

“Elliott Nevitt was good too and he will get better with more games. He has a presence up front and he really worked hard.”

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