Less than two weeks since signing on the dotted line for Stockport County, it has taken Oliver Crankshaw absolutely no time to endear himself to the Hatters’ faithful, with the winger set for a promising stint at Edgeley Park.
Dream Start for Confident Crankshaw in County Shirt
Handed the unenviable task of turning the game around on his debut midway through County’s trip to relegation-threatened Weymouth, Crankshaw was crucial in the visitor’s equaliser, before squeezing home the winner with two minutes to play.
A near-perfect debut for the 23-year-old, Crankshaw has immediately found his home on the right-hand side of County’s attack and was once again a standout performer in their recent 1-0 victory over another of the division’s strugglers in Aldershot Town.
Tormenting the Shots backline throughout a dominative Stockport performance, the 23-year-old forward was a regular source of danger for the home side, with the visiting defenders called into action a number of times to prevent him from registering an attacking return.
Forming an immediate bond with County right-back Macauley Southam-Hales, the Aldershot defenders will not be the first this season to suffer humiliation at the hands - or feet- of the Hatters’ latest dynamic duo.
Finding Feet Key to Crankshaw Development
Dropping down a division is never an easy decision for any player, not least when it involves switching from a side in the Football League to one in non-league, yet Crankshaw’s ambition should be applauded, not ridiculed.
Frozen out during his time at Bradford City, he joined the Bantams during the 2021 January transfer window, yet had been given only a handful of starts in his maiden season and was part of the side that finished mid-table in the fourth-tier.
Without a league start in the early parts of the current campaign, the Preston-born forward decided it was time to pack his bags at Valley Parade, before making the journey Southbound down the M62 and winding up at Edgeley Park.
Crankshaw Coup Years in the Making for County
For County, the acquisition of Crankshaw marked what had been a three-year-long hunt for the winger – one that had started whilst he was a Wigan Athletic player.
Stockport had attempted to sign the player during the 2019/20 season, yet instead of joining the newly-promoted National League North champions, Crankshaw was sent on loan to then Scottish Championship side Dundee.
Finally ending their pursuit for the wide-man, Crankshaw admitted to County’s YouTube channel upon his arrival in Greater Manchester that now was the right time to join the Hatters:
“In previous points when they (County) have been interested I don’t think it was the right time for to come, but right now the project is everything that I want to be involved in”.
An ambitious player by nature, Crankshaw went onto outline his targets whilst playing for the club:
“One of the main factors was I am coming here to play as many games as possible and get experience under my belt, whilst hopefully improving as a player with a manager I feel like I can improve under”.
Rusk Keen to see Rust Come off Crankshaw
Notorious for getting the most out of younger players during his time as Brighton & Hove Albion U-23 manager, Simon Rusk will no doubt be relishing the opportunity to work with Crankshaw, with the County boss impressed with what he’s already seen.
Speaking to NonLeagueDaily.com after the victory against Aldershot, Rusk was keen to praise Crankshaw on his home debut:
“He’s an exciting player and he will need regular 90 minutes to get those levels up to where we want them to be.”
Only once since April had Crankshaw registered a full 90 minutes on the pitch, with that runout coming in Bradford’s EFL Trophy tie against Manchester United’s U-23s and Rusk is confident regular minutes will only improve his cause:
“The signs are there that he can be the sort of player we want him to be and there is no doubt he adds something else on the pitch”.
Return to Football League Target for In-Form Crankshaw
It goes without saying Stockport have looked at Crankshaw in hopes he can inspire them to promotion and having signed a three-year deal at Edgeley Park, the County backroom staff have obviously placed a huge amount of confidence on the young wingers’ shoulders.
Back-to-back wins since making his debut has seen County rocket up the table into the top-half and should they win their game in hand, the Hatters will be within touching distance of the league leaders.
As the season goes on, the contributions of Crankshaw could define their campaign and with promotion back to the football league for the first time since 2011 the target for County this season, the performances of their dynamic winger will be crucial for a side with big ambitions.