Kirk on target but Alex slip to defeat at Boundary Park.
Crewe Alexandra were handed a tough, competitive match against Keith Curle’s Oldham this evening. It was a different type of work out for the Alex with personal duels and aerial battles to really content with and torrential downpours at Boundary Park.
Two first half goals from Oldham’s left-back Sam Hart were enough to win the game for the home side, with Charlie Kirk cancelling out Hart’s headed opener with an absolute cracker of a finish on 22 minutes. The returning Mika Mandron making the decisive lay off for the winger to smash his shot into the top corner.
Crewe Alexandra travelled to Oldham Athletic without goalkeeper Will Jaaskelainen and winger Owen Dale, as both are in self-isolation. Midfielder Tom Lowery was once again not included due to his ongoing contract issue but he could be involved for the Under-23s against Wolverhampton Wanderers tomorrow.
The club’s leading scorer, Mikael Mandron did return to action following his own period of self isolation. Oli Finney, who agreed a new contract extension earlier in the day, returned to the Crew squad after a slight muscle problem close to his shun ruled him out of Saturday’s home game with Nottingham Forest. Finney missed the game as a precautionary measure.
The home side were quicker out of the blocks, forcing a corner in the opening 20 seconds, which was subsequently headed clear by Rio Adebisi and the Latics tried to turn the Alex back four at any given opportunity.
After a frantic start to the game, Crewe’s first real chance arrived after five minutes. Mandron did well to rob possession back in the final third and he instantly found Finney. The captain on the night in turn releases Chris Long through on goal and after electing to take his chance early, he forces the Oldham trialist goalkeeper into a decent save. With the Oldham defenders retreating to assist their goalkeeper, Charlie Kirk can only bend the rebound past the far post.
Crewe created another really presentable chance with Adebisi’s long ball allowing Finney to pull over and volley towards goal. His volleyed effort really turned into a cross and Mandron narrowly missed making contact.
Following two good opportunities for the Alex, it was Oldham who took the lead in the 12th minute. Oldham got inside our left channel and Nick Adams lifted the perfect cross over for advanced full-back, Sam Hart to head home the opener despite Rio Adebisi’s attempts to get it over the crossbar.
Moments later, Crewe needed goalkeeper Dave Richards to push away a well struck free-kick from Alan Sheenan after MacDonald had tripped the tricky Dylan Bahamboula on the edge of the box.
Crewe duly equalised on 22 minutes. Mandron saw his first effort, albeit from a really tight angle pushed back to him close to the by-line and he coolly rolled the ball back for the supportive Charlie Kirk, who rifled it into the top corner for a fantastic equaliser. There was no saving that.
The lead lasted barely four minutes and it was a carbon copy of the Latics’ first goal. Adams was again the provider from the right and his accurate cross to the far post was this time met by the boot of Sam Hart instead of his head. David Artell will not like the way we have conceded those two goals to Oldham’s left-back.
Oldham’s player coach Alan Sheehan made way in the 32nd minute to be replaced by Carl Piergiannni.
Crewe continued to knock the ball around, probing and looking to create some more chances before the first half interval. At the other end, Crewe had to keep a watchful eye on Hart, who was on a first half hat-trick. He was looking to get forward at any opportunity.
Oldham also looked a threat especially from wide areas and it was Crewe probably more grateful for the half time whistle.
A forceful early run from Adebisi, gave Mandron half a glimpse at the Oldham goal but he was crowded out by a plethora of blue shirts and his attempted shot was charged down and following a messy melee, it was sent clear.
Hallam Hope was then booked for a high challenge on Kirk. It was the right decision, regardless of being a friendly or not.
Oldham forced a succession of corners that amounted to very little and Crewe began to get a proper dominance of the ball again.
Just before the hour mark, Keith Curle freshened up his attack with Hope and Bahamboula making way for Junior Luamba and Zak Dearnley.
It wasn’t too long before Artell made some changes of his own with Daniels, Porter and young Regan Griffiths on for Johnson, Lundstram and Long.
The downpour and the Oldham substitutions continued and Crewe were finding it difficult to rediscover that first half fluency and create some genuine chances. On a break, Richards did well to leave his line and deny Andrea Badan a clean run at his goal.
With a little under 10 minutes to go, Tyreece Onyeka replaced Mandron but that real chance never came at all in the second half.
Crewe: Richards, Johnson (Daniels), Adebisi, Lundstram (Griffiths), Hoban, Offord, MacDonald, Long (Porter), Mandron (Onyeka), Finney, Kirk