Date: 21st April 2018 at 5:24pm
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Morecambe made the relatively short journey south to Gresty Road in Crewe today to re-unite the club`s dominant central defenders from recent times. Jim Bentley – the Shrimps` manager- was up against Crewe boss and former team-mate Dave Artell in a game that could decide if both or even either of the clubs would remain in the EFL this season. At this late stage of the campaign, the even more dire record of three other clubs in League Two – specifically, Chesterfield; Barnet and Grimsby – meant that both luck and mathematics suggested that it was more likely than not that today`s opponents would live to fight another day in the division next season. Having said that, nothing is certain in football as in life and neither Morecambe nor Crewe were theoretically safe before the game started. Crewe were thirteenth at that time whereas Morecambe were in twentieth position but a victory for the away side – just three points behind them but with a game in hand – could change everything at the bottom of the EFL and cause them to leap-frog the Railwaymen in the standings.

Dean Winnard was unavailable for the visitors due to injury. For the hosts, ex-Morecambe leading scorer Shaun Miller was dropped to the bench following Crewe`s brilliant 3-4 win at Mansfield last Saturday.

It was warm and sunny in Cheshire as the teams kicked-off on a bobbly pitch. The home team had the first sniff of a chance when Paul Green played-in Jordan Bowery down the Alex`s left flank after five minutes. Bowery was able to out-pace his markers but his shot bounced back off Barry Roche`s legs and the opportunity was lost. Morecambe broke-away after ten minutes and Garry Thompson received a superb pass from Adam McGurk and then slung a dangerous ball right across the Crewe area – Callum Lang was just unable to make contact with it. But that was virtually it for Morecambe`s veteran striker – Thommo was taken off on a stretcher following what looked like a serious injury after just a quarter of an hour. Nobody was near him and he seemed to catch his own studs in the surface and in doing so, do serious damage to his ankle. His team-mates set-up the next decent chance of the game and Ben Garratt in the home goal produced a tremendous save low to his left from Michael Rose`s text-book free kick after 27 minutes. Two minutes later – as the Shrimps were beginning to dominate the play – Andy Fleming wasted a golden opportunity when he was set-up for a run down the centre into the heart of the Railwaymen`s defence. But his eventual shot was weak and easily saved by the Crewe goalie. The balance of play seemed to change after this and the hosts started to get on top. Bowery managed to wriggle his way past two visiting defenders after 38 minutes but his low shot was blocked and the home team fashioned a couple of other half-chances before the interval but the first period ended goalless.

The second half continued much as the first had, with both teams creating a few half-chances. Green and Chris Porter had shots which were blocked by Morecambe defenders and substitute Gregg Wylde took a shot-come-cross after 53 minutes which narrowly missed the Crewe goal. Two minutes later, Lang found himself one-on-one with the Railwaymen`s keeper but Garratt was again equal to it. The best chance of the game so far arrived after an hour when the two Shrimps` forwards combined but Lang was unable to hit the target with a sharp shot from Wylde`s cross. There were a couple of further chances at each end but the decisive move of the game arrived in the 89th minute. Morecambe were unable to clear a corner and substitute Shaun Miller came back to haunt his old team with an acrobatic effort which wrapped-up all three points for Crewe and a double over the team from Lancashire.

Their penultimate away fixture ended with Morecambe looking extremely nervously over their shoulders towards the bottom of League Two. They found themselves just one place above the relegation positions. With doomed Chesterfield losing again but Barnet resurgent again under Martin Allen and taking all three points against Newport County, Morecambe were just four points clear of the drop. They face Cambridge at the Globe Arena on Tuesday night. A win will put them ahead of Forest Green and Grimsby, both of whom won today. But a loss will put them firmly back in the mire with their final home game against the Bees a week today increasingly gathering greater significance.. Dave Artell must be breathing a lot easier tonight than his opposite number. Crewe`s win put them into seventeenth position, where they are actually safe. Well done that man. Morecambe`s eventual fate, however, lies completely in their own hands.

Crewe Alexandra: 1 Ben Garratt; 2 Perry Ng; 5 George Ray (C); 7 Chris Porter (32 Shaun Miller 67 mins); 10 Jordan Bowery (9 Chris Dagnall 81 mins); 12 Eddie Nolan; 14 Callum Ainley; 15 Ryan Wintle; 18 Harry Pickering; 20 Charlie Kirk (39 Harry McKirdy 67 mins); 30 Paul Green.

Subs not used: 13 Dave Richards; 3 Zoumana Bakayogo; 16 Tom Lowery; 42 Jamie Sterry.

Morecambe: 1 Barry Roche; 2 Aaron McGowan; 4 Alex Kenyon; 16 Sam Lavelle; 5 Steven Old; 8 Andy Fleming; 7 Garry Thompson (21 Gregg Wylde 15 mins); 14 Luke Conlan; 24 Michael Rose (C); 28 Adam McGurk (Y) (11 Kevin Ellison 74 mins); 29 Callum Lang (9 Vadaine Oliver 74 mins).

Subs not used: 12 Danijel Nizic; 10 Adam Campbell; 15 Aaron Wildig; 22 Max Muller.
Ref: Charles Breakspear