REPORT AND REACTION FROM CREWE SITE
Report and reaction from http://www.crewealex.net:
Reaction from Dario Gradi:
"We were more clinical in front of goal than on Saturday and we could have done with one of those finishes against Plymouth!
"I thought the attitude and work-rate of the players was superb and we scored some excellent goals. I thought Mansfield were more lively than the last time we played them. In a funny way I would have been proud of them because they kept going and created a few chances.
"I told the players that it was a job well done here because it was a difficult game because we were expected to win the game. We had a terrific start and finished our chances well.
"Rob Hulse always works hard for us and he deserves his hat-trick tonight. He is growing up all the time on the training ground and in the matches. He listens to the criticism better and is always trying to improve. Good luck to him because he has a super attitude."
Hulse Hat-Trick Hero In LDV Vans Win
Rob Hulse became the first Crewe player to score a hat-trick for the club for going on four years with a blistering display of finishing at Mansfield's Field Mill Stadium. The last Crewe player to take home a matchball was Colin Little, who achieved that feat against Bradford City during our first year in the First Division.
It was an early birthday present for the local lad – he celebrates his 23rd birthday on Friday. Before he was given a well earned rest by Dario midway through the second half, Hulse would even argue that it was he who provided the assist for Jack to net a fourth just over the hour mark!
Crewe boss Dario Gradi has been saying all week that the club would be taking this competition seriously and for those supporters who made the journey (some 125 plus the web-team and the local journalists) to the east midlands they were not disappointed by the way Crewe strolled into the second round of the LDV Vans Trophy with a 4-0 win over Mansfield Town.
Crewe simply started like they finished back in August when we ran out convincing 5-0 winners. As expected Dario Gradi made three changes to the side that lost 1-0 at home to Plymouth on Saturday, with goalkeeper Ademole Bankole, Richard Walker and Neil Sorvel all returning to the side for the expense of Clayton Ince, Dave Walton and Ben Rix. John Miles, Adam Yates and Lee Bell were all rewarded with places on the bench.
It took Crewe nearly half-an-hour to open the scoring at Field Mill back in late August in the one-sided league encounter. Tonight in a rainy Mansfield, Crewe nearly scored straight from the kick-off and were two-nil ahead in the opening 15 minutes thanks to top scorer Rob Hulse.
Crewe were quickly out of the blocks and a training ground routine from the kick-off nearly saw the returning Neil Sorvel open the scoring in the opening seconds. It was nearly shades of City! David Wright's long searching pass to the left-hand side was directed to Steve Jones and Rob Hulse who were eagerly waiting to cause chaos and that they did. Jones ran at full back Jamie Clarke before laying one off for Sorvel to strike - he was rather unfortunate to see his fierce shot blocked by Neil Moore. A minute or so later and Sorvel, this time the provider, picked out Kenny Lunt with a perfect cross but his free header was straight at Kevin Pilkington.
After a brief excursion into the Alex half, where midfielder Neil Mackenzie forced Ade Bankole into a rare save, the home side found themselves behind after four minutes. Mansfield could never get to grips with Crewe's passing game and when the combative captain Dave Brammer released the confident Hulse, you just knew that this was going to a relatively easy night for the Railwaymen.
Hulse waltzed past the grounded Pilkington before calmly slotting home his 11th goal of the season. His 12th goal of the campaign wasn't long in coming and it was a well-rehearsed set piece that unlocked the 2nd Division newcomers once again. The award of the initial free-kick was a bit of strange one with the referee penalising a tug on Hulse, but surely if advantage had been applied Rodney Jack would have scored from within the six-yard box!
Nevertheless from the resulting free-kick, Lunt picked out Efe Sodje at the far post and his clever knock back fell originally to Jack before Hulse converted the loose rebound for his second of the evening. Crewe then had a number of chances to put this first round tie out of reach before the break.
A vibrant Lunt saw a fine effort tipped over superbly by Pilkington after a mazy run by Jack. The St.Vincent International who had tormented the Stags in the league encounter nearly added to his own goal total following another dribble, but when it came to the finish, he was caught slightly off balance and screwed his shot wide off the post. Steve Jones should have put Crewe 3-0 up after another fine passing move involving the influential Lunt and Brammer, but his attempted curler into the far corner lacked the accuracy to test Pilkington. The game should have been beyond doubt at that point: the 25th minute.
Crewe continued to dominate the play and their passing and movement was far superior to Stuart Watkiss' side. They couldn't cope with the positions taken up by Lunt and with Sorvel and Brammer supportive in the midfield role; thankfully it was the home side chasing the ball more often than not on the greasy surface.
Due to the evening downpour the ball just ran on to Pilkington on a few occasions; where it would have been perfect to the onrushing forwards on a drier surface. It made for an exciting game though. Mansfield mustered only a few half chances in the first period with the Bankole, making his first start of the season, well placed to deal with long distance efforts from Wayne Corden and Mansfield's best player on the night Mackenzie.
Their best effort saw defender Neil Moore head a Liam Lawrence corner over and unsurprisingly they departed the pitch to a chorus of boos from a frustrated home crowd.
As you would expect Mansfield came out in the second half with a renowned zest and purpose. Watkiss' half-time rollicking and the introduction of substitute Jason White for the injured Colin Larkin. White hit one into the side netting from a Lee Williamson cross and Bankole was rather fortunate to see David Wright helping him out after he spilled another White effort out into his six-yard box. Mansfield continued to enjoy their best spell of the game and a Corden curler just cleared the far post.
Mansfield's failure to score during the opening exchanges of the second half saw Crewe finally compose themselves again and get a grip on the proceeding. Two goals in a four-minute spell knocked the stuffing out them. Hulse completed his first senior hat-trick on 58 minutes with a superb right-foot volley from a fine cross by Jack.
It really was the perfect way to round off a perfect evening for the Crewe-born striker. What a way to celebrate his 23rd birthday on Friday.
Hulse repaid Jack the favour three minutes later by playing a clever one-two of the post to give him his 6th of the season. Well, it wasn't quite like that! It was a bizarre fourth goal with Pilkington somehow keeping out Lunt's flying volley, and the former Manchester United man was rather unfortunate to see Hulse hit the post from close range and then Jack apply the final touch on the goal line.
The passing move of the game a few minutes later nearly provided Brammer the goal his extraordinary work-rate deserved. He began the move with a decisive pass forward then followed it up looking for a return – it arrived via a neat passing exchange involving Hulse, Jones and Lunt and the travelling support couldn't quite believe that the Captain's low drive just missed the post. After striking the post on Saturday, he must be due a goal soon.
Dario decided to rest goal getters Hulse and Jack and a timely double substitution saw John Miles and Ben Rix given a run out. Miles was superb, displaying some lovely touches and creating another chance for Jones, who's cross shot was pushed away by Pilkington.
The clear-cut chances seemed to dry up towards the end but it was another comfortable display by Crewe at Field Mill. Dario said that lightening wouldn't strike twice but it nearly did with Crewe east winners again. Performance of the week any one?
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