New Boys Shine In The Sun
Crewe set high expectations this afternoon with an impressive 4-0 friendly victory over Premier League Hull City. New striker Calvin Zola scored a hat-trick whilst Nicky Maynard tucked away a penalty in what turned out to be a comfortable win.
Hull fielded a strong side and included the likes of George Boateng, Bernard Mendy, Peter Halmosi and Geovanni in the game. However, it was the Alex's £200,000 signing from Tranmere that was to do the most damage in the afternoon. Within three minutes of kick off Calvin Zola had put the Alex 2-0 ahead.
The first, on 2 minutes, came from a rebound just 6 yards out whilst his second was a impressively struck volley from 20 yards after expertly bringing a high ball down on his chest.
Hull offered little in the 23 degree heat and their only real chance came from a penalty after Baudet brought down Nicky Barmby on the 15th minute. Goalkeeper Steve Collis however was more than equal to Mendy's strike and the new 'keeper kept things at 2-0.
Mendy's day got worse as he gave two penalties at the other end. Hull's new signing tripped Bopp inside the area for Nicky Maynard to fire home before Maynard was later bundled over inside the area, allowing Calvin Zola to grab a hat-trick.
With the heat, the game never quite hit those heights again but it gave Crewe fans a good view of the new look team. Zola was looking strong and composed and always involved, not quite the same could be said for Nicky Maynard, who never really came into the game but for the penalty and a 25 yard volley that skimmed the bar in the second half.
The midfield looked technically strong, with rookie James Bailey making an impression in the centre. However, Bailey and O'Connor posed little threat when it came to the hustle and bustle, something that will be costly in a competitive League One match.
Eugen Bopp continued his resurgence on the right, looking trimmer he seemed to have a hand in every move, but then even last summer promised a good season from Bopp. Hopefully this isn't another false dawn. On the right was new signing Joel Grant, a tricky (but strong) winger who still is clearly a raw talent.
The defence was a lot more familiar with Jones, Baudet, McCready and Woodards. They were strong through most of the game but still showed they can have their 'moments'. Danny O'Donnell later replaced McCready and, unfortunately, showed the lack of depth the defence has. I think Macca is capable but to push on a strong centre back to partner Baudet is a must.
Finally, in goal was Steve Collis who is just a plain, simple goalkeeper. He looked assured in every department and pulled off two good saves in the second half. He looks like the experienced keeper we've been pining, and comes with no clown outfit.
There was no sign of newest recruit Anthony Elding, who will probably get a full weeks training in before getting some minutes against Preston North End next week.
Over all it was a pleasing performance, but being a friendly it's hard to take too much from it. It'd be nice to take comfortable 4-0 wins into next season but we know it's not going to be as easy as that. If anything, today was a confidence boosting exercise and a valuable one - but beating a very unmotivated Hull side 4-0 doesn't make next season any less difficult.
But I still can't wait for the new season. Bring it on.
Steve Collis, Danny Woodards (Abbey 68mins), Billy Jones, Chris McCready, Eugen Bopp (Moore 61mins), Julien Baudet (O'Donnell 68mins), James Bailey (Rix 68mins), Michael O'Connor (Carrington 77mins), Nicky Maynard, Calvin Zola (Johnson 45mins), Joel Grant (Clements 68mins).
Hull (First Half):
Bo Myhill, Nathan Doyle, Ian Ashbee, Wayne Brown, Nick Barmby, Richard Garcia, Bernard Mendy, Peter Halmosi, Caleb Folan, George Boateng, Liam Cooper.
Hull (Second Half):
Matt Duke, Ryan France, Matt Plummer, Michael Turner, Sam Ricketts, Craig Fagan, Dean Marney, Bryan Hughes, Nicky Featherstone, Geovanni, Dean Windass.
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