Vadaine Oliver scores treble at the Weaver Stadium
Crewe Alexandra’s latest pre-season warm up encounter with our local neighbours Nantwich Town ended in a 4-1 win, mainly thanks to an excellent second half hat-trick from summer signing Vadaine Oliver.
Following on from the club’s 1-0 loss at Leek Town last night, the Railwaymen were looking for an all-round better performance at the home of the Dabbers and there were certainly more positives to take from this display, with youngster Liam Nolan showing his potential in the centre of midfield and Thierry Audel looking strong, quick and assured at the back.
The introduction of forwards Vadaine Oliver and trialist Sam Winnall in the second half finally saw Crewe break through a stringent Nantwich defence with Oliver enhancing his chances of starting the season in the side with a well taken treble in the second half.
As is usually the trend in the early stages of the pre-season, Crewe enjoyed the lions’ share of the possession but unlike the performance at Leek yesterday evening, the Railwaymen were more careful with their passing and delivery into the opposition penalty area and there was a significant improvement in our penetration in the final third of the pitch, although an organised Nantwich defence were difficult to break down in the first period. Oliver’s finishing proved the significant difference in the second 45 minutes.
At other times, the play was rushed, scrappy and crosses over hit for the head of Pogba and in the second half Vadaine Oliver, but he and Winnall would certainly make a difference with their finishing. Oliver’s acrobatic second goal was certainly the highlight of the goals.
Crewe started brightly with Max Clayton and Mathias Pogba combining well to create an early chance for winger Lee Molyneux, but his left footed shot was a yard wide of the far post. Molyneux, who does move off from his wing position to pick up some threatening pockets of space, then cut inside to draw the first save from the Nantwich goalkeeper Terry Smith.
Clayton adjusted his feet really well, some 25 yards from the goal, but his low drive was tipped around the post by the agile Smith before Pogba could take any advantage of a loose rebound.
Nantwich had chances of their own though with Steve Phillips called upon to push a well struck free-kick from Tom Moore away and he was called into action again to foil our former player Harry Clayton.
The best chance of the opening spell saw Adam Carden deliver an excellent cross from the right hand side and Aaron Burns should have done a lot better with his free header. He couldn’t direct it on target to test the Crewe goalkeeper.
A real positive was the minutes on the pitch achieved by the fit-again Mathias Pogba. The club’s leading scorer last season with 16 goals played just under half an hour at Leek last night and continued his recovery by starting his first game of the pre-season at the Weaver Stadium. Pogba recently returned to action following the surgery he undertook in the summer on his thigh. He partnered Max Clayton in the first half and had to survive a thunderous collision with the Dabbers goalkeeper Smith as he tried to reach a long ball first.
Moore then tested the reactions and alertness of Phillips by taking a quick free-kick, but the experienced Crewe goalkeeper read the situation to make another smart save. Crewe were dangerously conceding too many free-kicks on the edge of their own box.
Ellis was then hounded in possession and lost out to Mark Jones. Outnumbered at the back, Crewe were struggling to recover as Burns raced onto Phillips’ goal. He elected to pass instead of taking the chance himself, hit it slightly behind the supportive Niall Maguire and after his initial touch, Harry Clayton spun but shot wide of the target. It was a golden chance and Crewe were very fortunate not to slip behind.
His younger brother, Max Clayton, was then unlucky not to give Crewe the lead after pulling down a pass from Molyneux, but the reactions of Terry Smith kept out his close range effort. Smith was awake again to deny Clayton again as he looked to round him after he raced onto a splendid pass from West, the Nantwich goalkeeper read his trick superbly to smother the ball at his feet.
With the first half drawing to a close, Crewe did have the ball in the net after Smith kept out a powerful shot from Michael West, but Pogba was rightly ruled off for offside after tucking home the rebound.
At the break, Steve Davis switched the forwards with trialist Sam Winnall and Oliver replacing Clayton and Pogba. Winnall was credited with the opening goal barely a minute into the second half. There was a clustered of bodies that went to meet Molyneux’s corner, but after Audel won his initial header, Winnall claimed it after applying the final touch.
Nantwich nearly responded immediately but substitute Pete Wright could only fire his shot into Steve Phillip’s side netting after he had stolen in behind Kelvin Mellor.
Oliver then produced a good effort after taking the responsibility on himself. The former Lincoln striker powerfully struck his shot but it was a yard or so wide.
Oliver did get his goal though after some great work from Winnall. The trialist reached the by-line with a forceful run and he had the awareness to pull the ball back to give his strike partner a simply tap-in.
The second goal prompted changes with Steve Davis introducing the fresh legs of Osman, Turton, Dugdale and Ray for West, Waters, Ellis and Audel.
A minute later, Vadaine Oliver executed an acrobatic effort that drew applause from all sections of the ground. Oliver hung in the air, adjusted his body superbly and volleyed Tootle’s deep cross into Terry Smith’s top corner. It was a wonderfully athletic goal from Crewe’s new signing.
In an attempt to get back into the game, Louis Chalmers drilled a shot just wide before Molyneux made way for trialist Jake Green. Green’s first contribution nearly saw him deliver a cross for Oliver’s hat-trick but it didn’t get through.
Substitute Chris Armani then deservedly pulled a goal back for the home side. He tried his luck and got his reward to defeat Phillips for the first time in pre-season.
Crewe restored their three goal advantage with Oliver tucking home his hat-trick with real assurance after the lively Jake Green had broken free in midfield to find the in-form striker.
Crewe continued to press looking for goals, with Winnall denied a second goal of his own following a goal line clearance and Turton curling a shot over.
Winnall should have made it 5-1 after being slipped in by the lively Jake Green but he dragged his shot wide of the left hand post. The hard working Nolan made way late on for Jon Guthrie and he deserved his short break.
There were late chances for Green and Tootle to add to the tally but they couldn’t find a way past a busy Terry Smith and it ended 4-1.