Tait's late strike sinks Wolves

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The Independent Football

History was made at Gresty Road last night as Crewe, hovering above the First Division relegation zone, recorded their first ever home victory against Wolves.

History was made at Gresty Road last night as Crewe, hovering above the First Division relegation zone, recorded their first ever home victory against Wolves.

The visitors, tucked just behind the leading pack in the division, began with real intent. Ade Akinbiyi broke free on the right edge of the Crewe box in the second minute before delivering a low, angled shot which had the beating of goalkeeper Jason Kearton and, by a whisker, his right-hand post.

The £3.5m striker was the ultimate target for most of Wolves' play and, no doubt, Dario Gradi, the Crewe manager, had briefed his defence well on the muscular attributes of the Nigerian international. However, this only served to allow Akinbiyi's lively strike partner, Michael Branch, room in which to operate with some freedom.

While moving forward well, particularly on both of the flanks, through Andy Sinton and Darren Bazeley, where they enjoyed a one-man advantage afforded by Crewe's three-man midfield, Wolves looked less secure at the back, allowing Crewe's central defender, Steve MacAuley, two free headers from successive corners. The first was neatly pushed away by Michael Oakes, the second flying harmlessly over the bar.

Crewe, while struggling to find the rhythm of play for which they are so rightly admired - a rutted, snow-spattered pitch no doubt contributing - made the most of their infrequent forays forwards, Kevin Street coming closest with a delightful curling shot from 30-yards which just beat the angle.

Wolves, clearly believing the game was theirs for the taking, stepped up a gear after the break. Kevin Muscat chipped a delightful pass to Bazeley on the right flank. He opened the Crewe defence with a well-weighted cross; the build-up deserved a worthy finish but neither Akinbiyi nor Branch could find one as they each stumbled for shots which were easily smothered.

Meanwhile, far from hanging on, Crewe had their chances. Paul Tait took advantage of Oakes dropping the ball when under pressure, but his stabbed effort from six yards flew just wide.

The resilience of the home side finally paid off though when Street, who had just seen a shot whistle past the post, selected his man and crossed deeply from the left for Tait to head home nonchalantly through the grasp of Oakes in the 83rd minute.

Crewe Alexandra (4-3-3): Kearton; Bignot, S Wright, MacAuley, D Wright; Street, Lunt, Sorvel; Little, Cramb (Collins, 72), Tait. Substitutes not used: Ince (gk), Unsworth, Smith, Liddle.

Wolverhampton Wanderers (4-4-2): Oakes; Muscat, Pollet, Curle, Naylor; Bazeley, Emblen, Osborn, Sinton; Akinbiyi, Branch. Substitutes not used: Stowell (gk), Robinson, Sedgley, Corica, Simpson.

Referee: R Furnandiz (Doncaster).

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