HOCKEY: HUNGRY Crewe warmed up with a small starter against strugglers Formby seconds in preparation for the main course clash with leaders Manchester on Saturday.
Lowly Formby put up minimal resistance to the vibrant Vagrants attack at the weekend. Now second-placed Crewe are gearing up for a game which could be pivotal in the Division Two West title race at Manchester on Saturday.
The visitors did, however, threaten to spring an early surprise with a first-minute effort which forced a fine save from keeper Ravi Kaler. But Crewe began to pass fluently and Tim Alexander and Dave Holland took control. They went close with a slick short-corner routine from which Andrew Ashworth was denied, before the forward teed up Alexander to slot high into the net on 20 minutes.
Paddy Leese and Holland combined well to play Gary Roberts in, but he scuffed his shot, and Holland was un-lucky not to convert a corner with a fierce high shot that flew wide. Jon Beech and Steve Bourne threatened, but it was 1-0 at the break.
Formby started the second half well, forcing the play and going close as the Crewe lead looked increasing fragile. Leese, Roberts and Nick Marshall defended well.
Confidence was restored when Ashworth cracked home after a fine aerial pass upfield from Holland, and it was ended as a contest when the in-form hitman got his second soon after.
Marshall rifled home from the edge of the D to make it 4-0. Formby pressed again, forcing a diving save from Kaler and a cool clearance from Leese, but Crewe held firm. Next week will provide an all-together different prospect. nCrewe seconds were soundly beaten 5-0 at second-placed West Bowdon thirds, while the thirds were beaten 5-2 by Knutsford in their Division Five encounter. Paul Owen and Chris Steele were on target. Vagrants fourths suffered a 3-2 defeat at Sale. nCrewe ladies colts beat Leek ladies colts with a goal in each half.
Crewe rode out a storm of Leek pressure in the first half, and sprang out of de-fence to grab the opener just before the break. Lynn Taylor, Lisa Booth and Simone Williams connected to find Sophie Mellor who finished clinically. Taylor's fierce strike made sure of the victory midway through the second period.