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Crewe promoted after beating Cheltenham
England Under-18 international Nick Powell produced a moment of magic to help Crewe beat Cheltenham 2-0 in the npower League Two play-off final.
Powell - one of nine products from the famous Gresty Road academy in Steve Davis' starting line-up - is reportedly the subject of transfer interest from host of Barclays Premier League clubs, and his spectacular turn and shot after a quarter of an hour will have done his prospects of a big-money move little harm.
Alex made sure of promotion after three seasons in the fourth tier when Byron Moore opened up a flagging Robins backline eight minutes from time.
But Crewe were made to work hard in blistering temperatures before chalking up a 19th game without defeat. Jeff Goulding almost had Cheltenham back on terms when he rattled the crossbar moments after Powell's opener, before Alex somehow survived an onslaught of set-piece pressure on the stroke of the interval.
Following a sedate opening to the game, Powell put the Railwaymen ahead in sublime fashion. Collecting a pass from Kelvin Mellor, he produced a clever flick to escape the attentions of Marlon Pack and Alan Bennett before rifling an unstoppable left-footed shot beyond Scott Brown from 20 yards.
Cheltenham almost found an immediate response as Goulding crashed a venomous long-range effort against the bar, Ben Burgess unable to convert the rebound as goalkeeper Steve Phillips remained rooted to his line.
Goulding converted a Burgess flick-on from an offside position in the 25th minute and the latter's aerial prowess was starting to cause problems for Crewe. Mellor rose unchallenged to plant Ashley Westwood's 41st-minute corner over the bar, but Cheltenham's set-piece threat brought them desperately close to an equaliser before the break.
Amid a flurry of intense pressure, Phillips was at full stretch to deny Goulding before Powell and Westwood cleared off the line from Steve Elliott and Kaid Mohamed respectively.
Cheltenham retained that intensity as the second-half got under way, with Pack fizzing a low 20-yard drive just wide. An untimely stumble from Crewe centre-back Adam Dugdale allowed Mohamed to scamper beyond him and through on goal in the 54th minute, but Phillips stood firm to save.
Moore saw a shot from the edge of the area squirm wide before making amends by clinching League One football in the 82nd minute. The winger exchanged passed with Ajay Leitch-Smith and steered low into the far corner despite losing his footing.
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