By Tom Barlow
Crewe Alexandra denied Wrexham a second clean sheet on the bounce, as Charlie Kirk scored the only goal of this eventful game.
After some fine pressure and a goalmouth teaser, Crewe countered and finally showed their League Two quality, with a neat finish from Kirk in the 75th minute.
JJ Hooper had multiple chances to open the scoring, but was unable to find the killer touch, as well as a couple of goalmouth scrambles; the ball would just not go in for Wrexham.
Bryan Hughes started with a 4-2-3-1 formation, as the home fans saw a Wrexham team who could possibly start the National League campaign.
Adam Barton and Paul Rutherford were rested, while Akil Wright was still recovering from illness.
The new signing Michael Chambers started on the bench, along with the now confirmed Wrexham players: Jazzi Barnum-Bobb and goalkeeper Dawid Szczepaniak.
It was clear from the off that the poor weather conditions would be a major factor in the game, as both sides struggled to keep their footing and the ball.
Finney’s free kick in the sixth minute was whipped aimlessly over the Crewe players’ heads for a goal kick, after a Luke Young foul.
It took ten minutes, but the Dragons finally started to settle into the game and were keeping possession well.
The Railywaymen started to look dangerous on the left hand side, with Kirk’s shot being flicked wide by fellow player Daniel Powell in the 13th minute.
Crewe then started to link up on the right hand side, as Oliver Finney’s chipped cross flew over the bar in the 20th minute.
Two successive corners from Harry Pickering and Tommy Lowery caused a bit of mayhem, with the referee saving Wrexham after a foul on Christian Dibble in the 23rd.
Wrexham’s neat play in triangles wasn’t proving to be enough to stop the pressure from Crewe Alexandra, as their wide men were enjoying some success on the flanks.
Half an hour in and James Jennings’ diving block sent Powell’s shot out for a corner.
Four minutes later, Wrexham countered, as quick-footed Luke Summerfield played it into a surging Devonte Redmond, whose through ball to Hooper was snuffed out by the Crewe defenders.
Nicky Hunt produced a superb tackle on Hooper, but his efforts left him on the floor injured in the 35th minute, where the Crewe player had to be taken off via a stretcher.
A through ball in the 42nd minute saw Hooper easily shrug off his man, and his angled, right footed effort was saved by the old Wrexham coach’s son; Will Jaaskelainen.
Added time produced fantastic work by Harris, who took on multiple Crewe players in their own box, to win a corner for the home side.
The League Two side would have been the happier of the two teams at the break, but the score remained 0-0, with Wrexham looking dangerous at the end.
Two substitutes were made by the home side at the break, with Barnum-Bobb and Chambers coming on for Mark Carrington and Redmond. A system change also appeared, with Hughes revisiting three at the back.
Jennings split the Crewe defence in the 52nd minute, sliding Hooper through, who took it around the keeper and blazed his shot over the bar from the angle.
The away team finally began to settle down again, with a curling shot from Kirk, landing straight in Dibble’s hands on the hour mark.
Two minutes later, Finney threatened again as the ball somehow fell to him and he fired wide.
The pressure did not relent and, on 63 minutes, Powell found himself attacking on the right again, with his shot cleared off the line by Shaun Pearson.
Hooper’s afternoon ended on the 67th minute, as Leighton McIntosh was substituted on for him.
Grant quickly won a free kick a minute later, which was fired hard and low by Summerfield.
Barnum-Bobb raced down the right hand side and his cross was tickled wide by McIntosh on the 70 minute mark.
Three quarters of the game in saw Jennings' shot dribble across the goalmouth, but the away side countered and Kirk tucked the ball away to make it 1-0 to Crewe.
Jason Oswell entered the field for Grant in the 84th minute and there was immediately a goalmouth scramble, as Wrexham fans urged the ball into the net.
The tie seemed to dwindle out for Wrexham, however, as Crewe saw the game out well to secure a narrow win at the Racecourse.
Wrexham AFC: (4-3-3): Dibble (GK), Jennings, Pearson © , Lawlor, Carrington (Barnum-Bobb 46’), Summerfield, Young, Redmond (Chambers 46’), Grant (Oswell 84’), Harris, Hooper (McIntosh 67’).
Subs not used: Szczepaniak, Sargent, Thorn.
Crewe Alexandra FC: (4-4-2): Jaaskelainen, NG, Pickering, Wintle, Hunt (Jones 41’), Nolan, Powell (Dale 77’), Lowery, Porter, Kirk, Finney (Green 71’).
Subs not used: Richards, Anley, Lundstram
Referee: Alex Livesey
Wrexham AFC Bookings: Pearson 8' (dissent)
Crewe Alexandra Bookings: Jones 64’ (ungentlemanly conduct)