Maynard Shows Class In Win
It's rare when a player recieves applause from both sets of supporters when they leave the pitch, but Nicky Maynard's match winning hat-trick deserved it. Not only his hat-trick, but his all round performance that left Cheltenham not quite knowing whether they were coming or going.
His recent form has been remarkable but far from unexpected. We knew from last season he can score and if you'd ever have put money on a Crewe player, past or present, to score 11 in seven games then Maynard would be high on the list.
It's a far cry from December and, having just just returned from the broken leg he succumbed to 20 minutes into the first game of the season. Some fans wondered if maybe he'd 'lost it' or would take another 6-12 months to re-find his form. instead we're now wondering what could have been had he remained fit throughout the season. 11 in 7, 15 having spent five months out...
It's sad that we may never know as it looks increasingly more likely that the 21 year old will be exiting Gresty Road this summer and any goals in the final two games of the season will only serve to increase his transfer fee. Like Varney, Ashton, Hulse and the many more before, you always spend the months of May, June and July just hoping against hope that we may actually reject any approaches and keep the player.
Yesterday though showed that Maynard doesn't belong in this league. He could, at times, single handedly pick apart Cheltenham's defence and many times nearly end in a goal. His all round play since his debut at the start of last season has improved greatly, before he was not much more than a goal poacher but his willingness to come and get the ball and take it forward makes him even more of a threat.
Goals are no longer 'tap-ins' neither. Recent form has seen him hit a couple of specials against the likes of Walsall and Yeovil, and yesterday's match was no exception. His first was a deft curler from about 10 yards out from a angle. His second, after Cheltenham had pulled it back to 1-1, was more of a tap-in you could say but his composure in a crowded box with a keeper no more than few feet away as he lost his footing was second to non. While his third, to wrap up the three points, was a definite tap-in, bundling the ball over the line after Baudet's initial header from a corner was blocked.
His first professional hat-trick has virtually secured League One safety, with only a point needed from the final two games cementing safety in place. Not that his hat-trick was his entire contribution to could-be-safety, the fact he's scored 13 of the last 18 Crewe goals you would think has played the biggest part in this relegation battle.
Maynard may not be here come August but he may well have just saved our skin and for that he's a hero at Gresty Road.
Just don't join Stoke.