Strikers Oliver, Clayton and Leitch-Smith on target in 5-1 in
Crewe Alexandra enjoyed their third win in early pre-season with a 5-1 victory at neighbouring Norton United. First half goals from impressive youngster Billy Waters, new summer signing Vadaine Oliver and a penalty from Sam Winnall put Crewe Alexandra in a strong position at the half-time interval before substitute strikers Max Clayton and AJ Leitch-Smith helped themselves to further goals in the second period.
Letich-Smith’s well -taken goal rounded off the scoring for the Railwaymen and took his own personal tally for the summer to four goals. Max Clayton also saw a second half penalty saved by the home goalkeeper Dan Roberts.
Norton, who worked tirelessly throughout to make it a difficult run-out for the Alex in difficult temperatures scored a finely crafted goal of their own with Lee Cropper converting a splendid goal from Chris Baker.
Waters, who was operating from a wide left position in midfield, showed his potential to get in and around the opposition penalty area by having an early shot collected by the Norton goalkeeper Roberts and he fired a couple of powerfully struck efforts a yard wide of the mark.
The trialist Winnall, who partnered Oliver up front in the first period went awfully close to opening the scoring with a fine header from a Waters’ cross, but Roberts in the Norton goal produced a stunning one handed save to turn his effort onto the post.
Summer signing Thierry Audel, playing at right back, then tried his luck from distance before Ben Clarkson produced a timely block on a shot from Oliver after the club’s new striker from Lincoln City had skilfully provided himself with a sight at the Norton goal. Oliver demonstrated his aerial ability with two towering headers that were just in reach of Roberts.
Captain of the first half team, Matt Tootle showed real pace and direction to force his way into the 6-yard box and he was unfortunate to see his shot with the outside of his foot blocked on the line again. Oliver slipped at the crucial moment for a tap in and his attempted back-heal was again blocked on the line by Clarkson.
Tootle and Waters both went close to giving Crewe the lead before the pressure finally paid off on 26 minutes. The flying Byron Moore and Winnall combined to allow Moore to exercise his pace and vision to pull the ball back to the well placed Waters to finish.
Barely a minute later it was 2-0 with Oliver adjusting his feet superbly inside the box to score a really agile and acrobatic goal. His ability to adjust and convert on the volley gave Roberts no chance.
Waters was a constant thorn and will actually be disappointed that he only had the one goal to show for his great efforts on the night. He poked another effort wide before Oliver headed twice at the Norton goalkeeper.
Winnall also fired wide after another trialist Luke Giverin arguably produced the pass of the night to release Oliver through the heart of the Norton defence. Oliver used his power and acceleration to pull Giverin’s 50-yard pass down and under control but Winnall couldn’t quite get his effort on target.
Giverin, who was released by Manchester United in the summer showed some good touches and range of passing and he complimented youngster Ollie Turton alongside him. Turton was neat and tidy with his passing an didn’t cheaply surrender possession either.
Waters won the penalty five minutes before the break with another trademark burst into the box and trialist Winnall confidently picked the ball up and slotted home.
Steve Davis made seven changes to his side at the break to give other members of his squad a run out. These included new signing on the left wing Lee Molyneux and another Academy product Liam Nolan. Molyneux's first real touch nearly saw Leitch-Smith convert at the far post as he slid in.
Leitch-Smith was always prepared to get shots off. He had an effort deflected wide and from the resultant corner George Ray saw his firm header from Michael West’s cross blocked.
AJ Leitch-Smith had another effort well held by the busy Roberts, as did winger Ryan Colclough after he had shown good skill to leave a couple of players in his wake.
Steve Davis introduced further trialists Jake Green at full-Back and Ademola in midfield but Crewe were for a period struggling to add to their tally. Clayton won the spot kick that looked like adding a fourth goal on the night but his rather tame spot kick was saved.
Minutes later, Norton pulled one back with Baker’s excellent cross headed in by Cropper. Their genuine chances had been few and far between but it was a superbly crafted goal that deserved the applause it received from both sets of supporters.
Crewe finally got back into the stride with Clayton confidently putting his penalty miss behind him but rounding the goalkeeper and calmly slotting into an empty net, before Leitch-Smith completed the scoring following a fine passing move. Molyneux cut the ball back superbly from the by-line for Leitch-Smith to accurately guide home.
Crewe: Garratt, Audel, Tootle, Ray, Guthrie, Giverin (t), Turton, Moore, Waters, Oliver, Winnall (t)
Crewe: Garratt, Audel (Green (t), Ray, Mellor, Guthrie (Ademola (t), Nolan, West, Colclough, Leitch-Smith, Clayton, Molyneux
Subs not used: Martin, Osman.