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League One

Andy Ritchie's Blog 34

10 April 2013

It was a great victory for Crewe over Southend in the final of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy on Sunday and after winning at Wembley in the Play-Off Final in May, the Railwaymen are obviously developing a liking for playing at Wembley. It's a stadium that can do funny things to teams but it doesn't seem to hold any demons for Crewe at all.

Steve Davis's side took the game by the scruff of the neck in the opening exchanges, the first 25 minutes or so, and never let go. The early goal put Southend firmly on the back foot and was a beautiful effort from Luke Murphy which was obviously straight off the training ground. It worked an absolute treat and Crewe never looked back.

I thought the game was a great advert for both npower League 1 and 2 but I was baffled by some of the referee's decisions and what seemed like a pathological refusal to award Southend a penalty. They had two good shouts for a spot kick but the ref seemed absolutely determined not to give either of them.

Maybe he was desperate to avoid any controversy on such a big occasion. I don't think his decisions ultimately affected the outcome of the match (and Crewe could have also easily been awarded a penalty of their own) but I was still a little confused by his performance.

It was an interesting weekend for MK Dons striker Ryan Lowe, who had three goals disallowed for offside in his side's goalless draw at home to Crawley. I had a fair few goals chalked off for offside in my time as a player but I have never, ever heard of three in one game.

You could argue that to have one disallowed is unfortunate, two is careless and three is just stupid but I'm going to stick with the striker's union and say that at least Ryan was getting himself into dangerous positions. To be honest I've not seen the match highlights yet, so I'm not sure how marginal the calls were, but any decent striker has to hedge his bets, live on the shoulder of the last defender and getting flagged for offside is an occupational hazard.

No doubt Ryan will be thinking he could have had a hat-trick but it's better to stick the ball in the back of the net and then see the linesman's flag raised rather than never threaten the goal.

Talking of strikers, I wanted to mention Paddy Madden at Yeovil who scored the winner against Shrewsbury on Saturday to take his tally for the season to 23 and underline his status as npower League 2's top scorer this season.

It didn't really work out for Paddy at Carlisle but since he switched to Huish Park, he's really blossomed and I think some of the credit for the transformation in his fortunes has to go to James Hayter. People talk of the death of the traditional strike partnership but Paddy's young legs and energy alongside James' nous and experience have been a potent combination this season.

I know how invaluable it can be for a young striker to play with a more experienced partner. I learned so much from the Jimmy Greenhoff and Stuart Pearson early in my career at Manchester United and I'm sure Paddy has benefited in a similar way from having James in the Yeovil side.

Irrespective of whether Yeovil secure promotion or not, they're going to have a battle on their hands to keep Paddy at the club next season. That number of goals gets people's attention and I'm sure there have been plenty of scouts already keeping tabs on him. He's a young lad with a bright future and the Glovers will soon have a pleasant dilemma to deal with.

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