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CREWE Alexandra booked their place in the League Two Play-Off Final at Wembley thanks a sensational fightback success at Doncaster Rovers.

Trailing 2-0 after the first leg, Lee Bell’s men travelled to Eco-Power Stadium with the aim of defying the odds against one of the country’s most in-form teams.

Rovers were unbeaten in 13 and had won eight on the spin at home.

But under the lights and live on Sky Sports, the Alex produced a performance brimming with heart and determination to keep their promotion dream alive.

Mickey Demetriou’s 10th goal of the season halved the deficit on six minutes, before a James Maxwell own goal made it all square on aggregate not long after.

Neither side could find a winner in normal time, or 30 minutes of extra time, so a penalty shootout was required.

Courtney Baker-Richardson, Ryan Cooney, Lewis Leigh and Charlie Kirk were successful from the spot, and keeper Max Stryjek made himself a hero by saving twice.

It was a night that will live long in the memory as Crewe exemplified the team spirit and togetherness that has shone through all season.

And the joyous scenes of celebration after the final whistle only brought players and fans closer together.

Now the Alex will gear up for the Final at Wembley on Sunday, May 19 (1pm) against either Crawley Town or MK Dons.

Lee Bell made four changes to the side that lost in the first leg earlier this week. Zac Williams suffered a suspected broken foot in that game so missed out, while Cooney, Matus Holicek and Josh Austerfield dropped to the bench.

Ed Turns was back in action after six weeks out through injury, and Conor Thomas started for the first time since the end of March. Aaron Rowe and Christopher Long returned in attack, as the Alex switched to 4-2-3-1.

Doncaster made one change, with the experienced Tommy Rowe replacing the injured Harrison Biggins.

Crewe made a dream start when Joel Tabiner stood up a corner to the far post and Demetriou climbed highest to nod down and into the net.

Long brought a save from keeper Thimothee Lo-Tutala which forced a 16th-minute corner and, from it, the Alex made it 2-0.

The ball was half-cleared but the visitors recycled the play and Long drilled the ball across goal where Thomas and Elliott Nevitt pressured Maxwell into turning it over his own goalline.

Rovers regained their composure and forced a number of corners. On 37 minutes Tom Anderson met a flag kick at the far post but keeper Stryjek was equal to the header.

Tommy Rowe met a Jamie Sterry cross from the right just before the break but Stryjek did well to save and hold.

Hakeeb Adelakun fizzed a 25-yarder narrowly over the bar just before the whistle sounded for half time.

The home side slowly grew in strength in the early stages of the second half, without truly threatening the goal.

On 63 minutes Richard Wood flicked a header narrowly wide while, at the other end, the hosts scrambled the ball away as Nevitt sniffed out a chance.

On 78 minutes, a super cross from Sterry was brilliantly defended by the head of Rio Adebisi, and the Alex defended the resultant corner well.

Crewe threw bodies on the line and survived a huge scramble in the six-yard-box following a Doncaster corner as the clock ticked down.

Normal time ended with The Railwaymen on the front foot, and a further 30 minutes were required.

Luke Molyneux’s powerful shot was flicked onto the post by Stryjek in the first half of extra time, as both sets of players tired.

Holicek was off target with a dipping volley late on in the second half of extra time, and Baker-Richardson saw a shot blocked from close in.

Both sides had given everything, and penalties were needed to decide it.

Demetriou saw his spot-kick saved but Stryjek denied Zain Westbroke to even it up.

Kirk dispatched Crewe’s last penalty and Stryjek saved from Adelukan to send the travelling fans wild.


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