Dugdale gives Crewe cutting edge

Crewe Alexandra 1 Southend United 0

alexandra stadium

Crewe stretched their club record sequence to 17 matches without defeat in securing a narrow lead to take into Wednesday's second leg in Essex. Eleven points separated these sides in the League Two table – a gulf explained partly by Southend's home and away double in the games between them. But it was only in the final 20 minutes of this play-off semi-final that it was apparent which team had finished fourth and which had trailed in seventh.

Crewe appeared upbeat, having qualified for the play-offs despite languishing as low as 18th when Steve Davis succeeded Dario Gradi in November, while Southend were unable to take the last automatic promotion spot on the final day.

The force was often with the home team, although the advantage they hold came from a goal hardly in keeping with the purist ideals of the club. Five minutes after half-time, Crewe's captain Ashley Westwood launched a long diagonal free-kick and Anthony Dugdale, a central defender released by the club in 2009 and re-signed a year later after doing the non-League circuit, climbed highest to score with a fine looping header.

It was the first time Paul Sturrock's defence had been breached in nine hours and 26 minutes of playing time and a second breakthrough would have followed had Cameron Belford not saved superbly from Ajay Leitch-Smith. "That was miles away from how we have been playing," said Sturrock, whose side had ended the season with four straight victories. "Butif we bring our top game to the second leg, I'm sure we will get the result we need."

Southend finished with a rush that will give them heart. The Tunisian forward Bilel Mohsni wastefully headed over from close range and Ryan Hall saw a shot on the run touched round the post.

Crewe, whose last defeat was at Southend in February, were seldom able to get their 15-goal leading scorer Nick Powell on the ball, although he was denied when a half-chance fell to him in stoppage time. "We have coped well with the occasion but Southend will be wounded," Davis said. "We have to be ready for that on Wednesday."

Crewe (4-4-1-1): Phillips; Carl Martin (Bodin, 89), Dugdale, Davis, Mellor; Moore, Westwood, Murphy (Bell, 77), Tootle; Powell; Leitch-Smith (Clayton, 84).

Southend (4-3-3): Belford; Clohessy, Phillips (Prosser, 66), Barker, Gilbert; Timlin, Grant, Ferdinand (Leonard, 60); Hall, Neil Harris (Eastwood, 73) Mohsni.

Referee Michael Naylor.

Man of the match Westwood (Crewe).

Match rating 7/10.

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Gabriel Agbonlahor, Alexis Sanchez, Alan Pardew and Graziano Pelle
footballAfter QPR draw, follow Villa vs Arsenal, Newcastle vs Hull and Swansea vs Southampton
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam