Crewe Alex: Oldham boss could be for the bullet if Crewe start to fire
STEVE Davis was promoted to Crewe manager the morning after the last time the Alex played Oldham.
Eleven months have passed since that Johnstone's Paint Trophy encounter, which Crewe lost 3-1 as then-assistant Davis took charge while Dario Gradi nursed a cold.
But whereas Davis's immediate concern was not creating enough chances, his worry now is not making the most of a host of opportunities coming his strikers' way.
The Railwaymen may now sit 27 places higher in the league ladder than they did back then, but Gradi's successor knows his Gresty Road project is still a work in progress.
Crewe host Oldham again this evening (7.45pm) having scored just eight goals in nine games this season and without one of their main forwards, Byron Moore (ankle).
This time it is the Latics manager, Paul Dickov, whose days may be numbered after seeing his side sink into the League One relegation zone.
However, Crewe must find a way of hitting the net if they are to pile more pressure on the fiery former Manchester City striker.
Their latest blank came in a 1-0 reverse at MK Dons on Saturday, but Davis believes he has the players to turn things around.
He said: "Ajay (Leitch-Smith) had a couple of one-on-ones at MK Dons and you'd expect him to put at least one away, and at this level I'd expect our lads to score both.
"We had other chances. We had enough moments to get at least a draw and we have to start taking those.
"The goals are all that are missing. I don't want to keep saying this every week, but it's up to us to change that and me to get the players putting it right on the training pitch and making sure they are not letting missed chances affect them too much.
"They are good players and they show that in training. It's not like I'm asking them to do something they can't do – I've seen them do it many times and I've got all faith and confidence they can put it right."
At the other end of the pitch, Crewe, who had conceded 13 goals in the four games before Davis was appointed, have not shipped that many in the nine league matches so far this term.
Yet keeper Alan Martin was honest enough to admit his confidence in the Alex's front line stems from personal experience. He said: "None of our games have had many goals in them, apart from the Brentford game, so if we can get someone sticking it in the net then we will start picking up wins.
"In training, myself and (youth keeper) Ben Garratt can't save half of their shots, so it's not about the finishing. It's just a bit of bad luck, and once they start going in it's going to be a big lift for the team."
Moore's place on the left flank is expected to be filled by Chuks Aneke, the loan signing from Arsenal who has now served a three-match ban for being sent off on his full Crewe debut at Stevenage.
Mathias Pogba, joint top-scorer with Leitch-Smith on four goals, is also back and pushing for a start following a knee injury. He could come in for either Leitch-Smith or Max Clayton up front, or Matt Tootle on the right wing.
Andy Bond, who is on loan from Colchester, should keep his place in central midfield, while Abdul Osman (ankle) fights to be fit for the Hartlepool clash on Saturday.
Dickov, on the back of a home defeat to Coventry, heads to South Cheshire knowing anything less than a win will see more calls for his head.
He said: "I have been under pressure since the first day I took the job. I am not stupid. I know we need to start getting results. But I know we will.
"At times we are playing good football, but you can't switch off defensively.
"We all have to pick ourselves up and go to Crewe with a positive attitude to pick up three points."