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Max Stryjek stars as Crewe beat Doncaster on penalties to reach play-off final
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PA Sport staff
Press Association
Max Stryjek helped Crewe into play-off final (Richard Sellers/PA)
Max Stryjek helped Crewe into play-off final (Richard Sellers/PA)

Emergency loan signing Max Stryjek was the penalty shoot-out hero as Crewe staged a brilliant play-off semi-final comeback to beat Doncaster.

Stryjek, drafted in from Wycombe due to injuries at Gresty Road, saved the decisive spot-kick from Hakeeb Adelakun to clinch a 4-3 shoot-out victory after he had also denied Zain Westbrooke.

The Railwaymen’s Courtney Baker-Richardson, Ryan Cooney, Lewis Leigh and Charlie Kirk, meanwhile, all converted for the visitors although Mickey Demetriou also saw his effort saved by Thimothee Lo-Tutala.

It meant successful attempts from home trio Joe Ironside, George Miller and Owen Bailey were of no consolation for Rovers, who had earlier seen a 2-0 first-leg advantage wiped out by Demetriou and a James Maxwell own goal, as Doncaster suffered their first defeat in 14 games since March 2.

Crewe had only mustered two goals in eight games going into the second leg but matched that tally within the opening 16 minutes to level the scores on aggregate.

First, centre-back Demetriou scored his 10th goal of the season after six minutes, meeting Joel Tabiner’s left-wing corner with a powerful downward header four yards from goal.

After home Lo-Tutala pushed a Chris Long effort behind for a corner, the ex-Blackpool forward then made a more telling contribution when he escaped the attentions of the Doncaster defence through the right channel and sent in a low cross that a sliding Maxwell could only put in his own net with Conor Thomas lurking behind him for a tap-in.

The nervous hosts did not manage a goal attempt of any description until the 38th minute when Richard Wood’s tame header from a Luke Molyneux corner failed to extend Stryjek in the away goal.

It was quickly followed by another headed effort – this time requiring a smarter save from Stryjek – as Tommy Rowe met Jamie Sterry’s centre and Adelakun also drove narrowly over from the edge of the box as Grant McCann’s men finished the half strongly.

Wood went on to go close with a header from Adelakun’s left-wing cross just past the hour mark with Rovers buoyed on by a raucous sell-out home crowd.

Loud penalty appeals were turned down, though, when substitute Kyle Hurst went down in the box following a challenge by Railwaymen replacement Matus Holicek.

Rio Adebisi also made a vital intervention to divert Molyneux’s devilish delivery over his own crossbar.

A rare second-half visitors attack, meanwhile, saw Elliott Nevitt fire wide of the near post before Molyneux dragged the last attempt of regulation time wide from 20 yards.

Molyneux continued to torment and, in the first half of extra time, saw Stryjek push his angled drive onto the outside of his near post, before the visiting keeper produced heroics in the penalty shoot-out.


League TwoCreweDoncaster
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