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Crewe Alexandra were beaten 2-0 at Walsall on Boxing Day.

Goals from Freddie Draper and Oisin McEntee earned the home side three points at The Poundland Stadium.

The Railwaymen huffed and puffed but could not find a way back. It was only Crewe’s second reverse at the hands of Walsall in 20 matches.

The Alex drop to sixth in the standings as a result. Now they will look to bounce back in the final fixture of 2023 at Newport County on Friday.

Lee Bell made two changes to the side that lost to Barrow on Friday, with well-again Joe White and Connor O’Riordan restored to the line-up. They replaced Elliott Nevitt and Conor Thomas, who missed out through illness and injury respectively.

Christopher Long was named among the substitutes after two months on the sidelines with a thigh injury.

Walsall, who were captained by ex-Alex defender Donervon Daniels, were grateful to the safe hands of keeper Jackson Smith when he held a direct free-kick from White on nine minutes.

On 25 minutes the ball was nodded down by Jamile Matt for Isaac Hutchinson to strike, but captain Mickey Demetriou made a vital block right in front of goal.

Just after the half-hour mark the Alex had a let-off when Hutchinson’s powerful drive came back off the bar and was smuggled behind for a corner.

But when the flag kick came in from Ryan Stirk, Draper was able to head home his 10th of the season from close range.

The Alex looked to have got Courtney Baker-Richardson in behind but he was flagged for a narrow offside, and Aaron Rowe couldn’t guide in Rio Adebisi whipped cross just before the half-time whistle.

Smith made saves from Baker-Richardson and Ryan Cooney early in the second half, as the Alex switched to 4-3-3.

Baker-Richardson headed inches wide on 55 minutes, while at the other end keeper Tom Booth made a super save from Hutchinson.

But when the corner came in Farquharson got there first to head the hosts into a 2-0 lead.

Adebisi curled one over from an angle and Long had big penalty appeals for handball waved away as the visitors looked for a way back.

Booth made a good stop to deny Jack Earing a late third.

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