CREWE CUE UP A TIGHT FINISH
HIS namesake may no longer grace the Crucible but on the day the World Snooker Championships began, Crewe boss Steve Davis was left to rue a potentially costly trick shot.
Davis looked set to be the king of the safety game as Marcus Haber’s early header appeared likely to cue up a priceless fourpoint cushion over the drop zone.
However, a horrible deflection off Davis’ son and skipper Harry handed Walsall’s Tom Bradshaw a late leveller, leaving Crewe two points off trouble and – while not needing snookers – still in danger.
Davis said: “It was one of those fluky, loopy goals that happen sometimes. These things happen, we just have to get on with it.
“If we could have got the extra points today, we would have been on 51 with a four-point cushion even though other clubs have games in hand.
“We’ve got a two-point cushion so we’ll see how the other teams’ games go and we’re in there fighting with the rest of them.
“We’ve got Coventry away and Bradford at home to finish and we’re still confident and positive about what we’re doing.”
Crewe would have been safe already, if not for their recent habit of throwing away leads.
And a frustrated Davis added: “We were good first half, excellent in our attacking play and really on the front foot.
“But the second half was similar to the last three games – we’ve led and ended up drawing because we’ve not been able to stay on that front foot and sustain that amount of energy and pressure. “You’re left scratching your head a little bit as to why that keeps happening.”
Walsall keeper Richard O’Donnell denied Crewe a fifth-minute opener as he clawed away Nicky Ajose’s spectacular 15-yard volley on the turn. Haber then rattled the bar after being put clear but took just ten seconds to make up for the miss, beating Andy Taylor to a far-post header and guiding home Ajose’s quick ball back in.
But Crewe sat back and were fortunate to go in at the break ahead as Michael Cain lashed into the side netting from 20 yards and Taylor poked just wide after a surge into the area.
Alex were similarly negative after the break and paid the price when Bradshaw’s shot looped up off captain Davis and past keeper Paul Rachubka.
It was Bradshaw’s 18th goal of the season, if it isn’t adjudged an own goal, and secured Walsall’s own League One status.
Saddlers boss Dean Smith said: “It was a bit of a fortunate goal with the deflection but overall I thoughts our efforts probably deserved that. Crewe can’t go above us now, unless they win both games 7-0 and we lose 70 or something like that.
“Colchester can’t go above us. All of the other seven teams down there could mathematically but it will be tough for them to win all their games.
“I know Tom’s target is 20 goals for the season. That makes it 18 in all competitions and a couple more will give him 20 and it would be a superb achievement for him.”
LEVELLER: Walsall’s leading goalscorer Tom Bradshaw celebrates with team mates