Date: 29th November 2010 at 7:56pm
Written by: Roger Fitton

The last time these two teams met – at Christie Park last Good Friday – Morecambe found themselves facing a penalty having just had a man sent-off at a time – with about twenty minutes left – when they were already 1-3 down. Then, their ten men battled back to win the game 4-3 with central defender Dave Artell scoring the winner in injury time with a towering header. Artell went on to sign for Crewe during the close season because Dario Grady`s Railwaymen were prepared to offer him a two year contract: Sammy McIlroy`s Shrimps would only offer twelve months. Today, Dave was made Crewe Captain and the mutterings among many of the Morecambe faithful that he should never have been allowed to leave grew ever louder: his old team were booed off by the home crowd at half time at a freezing and under-populated Globe Arena.

On Good Friday, the outstanding player on the pitch was the visitors` tricky and nimble number 7, Clayton Donaldson: the Morecambe defence were run ragged by him. And so it proved again today: after just a couple of minutes, the Shrimps` defenders – including, perhaps forgivably, new loanee Kieran Charnock who was playing for the Shrimps for the first time – were at sixes and sevens as Crewe`s best player found himself unlucky not to score following a fine block by home custodian Barry Roche: one of a number of really top-class saves he made today, mostly from the same player. But Donaldson was not to be denied for long – just two minutes later, he burst past the Morecambe backline right down the middle of the pitch and unerringly swept a pass which had been beautifully lobbed into his path past the despairing left hand of huge Irishman Roche high into the net.

After that, injury-ravaged Morecambe started to play a little more fluently and seemed to be getting on top. Midfield dynamo Craig Stanley troubled the visitors several times, most notably when his long-range volley hit Rhys Taylor`s right hand post with the goalkeeper well beaten just two minutes after Crewe had netted. Throughout this period of relative ascendency, though, Morecambe were constantly troubled by the visitors, Roche brilliantly blocking two goal-bound shots from Donaldson after eighteen minutes and Luke Murphy a minute later. When he actually was beaten (as he was by that man Donaldson a couple of minutes earlier), Lawrence Wilson came to the rescue by blocking the shot on the goal-line. Crewe`s number seven`s vision, movement and control was exceptional today and this man surely merits a chance at a (much) higher level: without further fine stops from Morecambe`s Captain, he could have scored a hat full today. Towards the end of the half, Morecambe seemed to lose momentum and Crewe started to look threatening again: it was no surprise when an unmarked Byron Moore increased their lead right on the stroke of half time, turning-in a Shaun Miller cross with Roche for once unable to do anything about it.

The second half was probably just about shaded by Morecambe. Crewe could have gone further ahead when Garry Hunter gave the ball away badly after an hour and Roche did well a minute later to keep out a shot from the industrious Miller but in the meantime, Jimmy Spencer in particular looked dangerous in the Shrimps` attack: he was unlucky to see a shot hit the post after sixty-five minutes. Visiting on loan Chelsea keeper Taylor also played his part in keeping the Crewe `s lead intact. His handling of the ball was excellent and he made at least one outstanding save from Scott Brown just after an hour. Without doubt though, his key contribution to the match was a penalty save in the eighty-fourth minute: he dived low to his left to keep out Phil Jevons` attempt to convert a spot-kick perhaps a little harshly awarded against Matt Tootle for handball. This probably secured the visitors all three points: if Jevons had scored, substitute Chris Shuker`s goal with a deflected shot in the 89th minute would have had a lot more significance.

The game marked Morecambe`s second 1-2 reversal at home in a row and they are just above the relegation positions in 21st spot as a result. On at least this evidence, David Artell made the right decision during the summer: his new team are currently ninth?

Morecambe: 1 Barry Roche (Capt.); 6 Craig Stanley; 8 Garry Hunter; 10 Phil Jevons; 14 Jimmy Spencer; 15 Chris McCready (18 Mark Duffy 24 mins; 17 Andy Fleming (9 Chris Shuker 72 mins); 19 Laurence Wilson; 22 Andy Parrish; 27 Keiran Charnock (Y); 29 Scott Brown.

Subs not used: 31 Laurie Walker; 5 Jim Bentley; 7 Adam Rundle; 20 Stuart Hendrie; 26 Tony Capaldi.

Crewe: 13 Rhys Taylor; 2 Matt Tootle (Y); 3 Danny Blanchett; 4 Ashley Westwood; 5 Dave Artell (Capt); 7 Clayton Donaldson (19 Kelvin Mellor 90 mins); 8 Luke Murphy; 10 Shaun Miller (25 Nick Powell 85 mins); 12 Lee Bell (Y); 14 Byron Moore (11 Joel Grant 90 mins); 23 Adam Dugdale.

Subs not used: 1 Steve Phillips; 17 Dan Shelley; 22 Harry Davis.

Ref: Darren Drysdale.

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