The Alex travel to Morecambe this weekend looking to do the double over the Shrimps after thrashing them 6-0 on the opening day of the season.
The Alex won both meetings last season 1-0, with Perry Ng netting a scorcher in the dying minutes to win at the Globe Arena in November 2017.
Crewe currently sit five points & five places above Morecambe in the Sky Bet League Two table, with the hosts having won just one of their previous eight league games.
After a torrid start to the season in which they lost seven of their first eight league games, The Shrimps have picked up sporadic wins since & have done enough to currently sit five points above the League Two relegation zone.
Date: Saturday 5 January 2019
Competition: Sky Bet League Two
Venue: The Globe Arena
Previous Meeting at Host Club: Morecambe 0-1 Crewe (Nov 2017)
Referee: Carl Boyeson (P23, Y85, R2)
Crewe: The Alex have major doubts over the availability of stalwarts Paul Green & Eddie Nolan. Green was forced off just before half-time in the New Years Day loss at Bury with a knee problem whilst Nolan missed the trip altogether with a claf strain.
That could hand young midfielders Tommy Lowery or Oli Finney the chance to make just their second league starts of the season in midfield, but boss David Artell could also switch his formation to combat his good friend Jim Bentley's side.
Morecambe: The Shrimps are looking to find a winning formula having picked up just one point in three games over the festive period. But prior to that they did impressively win a six-pointer 3-0 against Cambridge at the Globe Arena.
The Shimps have made a new addition to their squad just in time for the match, the Cardiff City youngster Paul McKay joining on loan in time for the match.
Andy Fleming, James Sinclair, Lamin Jagne & Aaron Wildig continue to be long-term absentees, with goalkeeper Barry Roche playing through the pain barrier after sustaining a wrist injury.
Kyle Hawley could return after coming back into training this week.
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Chris Porter kept his composure superbly well at the Globe Arena to convert a 94th minute penalty to salvage a point this afternoon. Porter slotted home his fourth goal in four games to cancel out Morecambe’s second half goals from Andrew Tutte and Kevin Ellison after James Jones had fired Crewe into a first half lead.
Morecambe must have thought they had the points in the bag after Ellison’s quality finish to put the Shrimps 2-1 up but great work from substitute Shaun Miller allowed Perry Ng to send over a cross and a shove in the back on Porter presented us with a gift.
Porter held his nerve to score and give us only our sixth away point of the season.Crewe Alexandra boss David Artell made one change to the side that lost 3-1 to Bury on New Year’s Day. Nicky Hunt was recalled to the starting line up in place of Corey Whelan but Perry Ng remained at right-back. It was Hunt’s first appearance since starting our FA Cup tie against Carlisle United back in November.
Miracle man, Paul Green, recovered from his injury scare from just four days ago to retain his place in the Crewe Alexandra starting line-up.
Jim Bentley’s Morecambe side contained the former Crewe Alexandra forward AJ Leitch-Smith. The Cheshire-born Leitch-Smith was part of the Crewe side that won promotion from League Two back in 2012 and he had also trained with us in the summer.
Morecambe started on the front foot in the opening few minutes of the game. Following a long throw from Jordan Cranston into our crowded box, George Ray leapt highest to head over his own goal. From the resultant corner, there was a short melee before Nicky Hunt cleared in the second phase.
The home side were certainly looking to make their physicality and aerial presence count and they avoided playing through the middle for the smaller but more agile Leitch-Smith. It was rather a scrappy start from Crewe as we tried to find our rhythm against the Morecambe press.
On 8 minutes, Leitch-Smith’s guile saw him run in behind and it took a last ditch challenge from the Alex captain to deny him a clean strike at goal. His tackle had to be perfectly timed.
Crewe’s slow start saw us continue to give possession away cheaply and an uncharacteristic pass across the pitch from Ng only found Liam Mandeville and he shot just over after surging forward. The Railwaymen had yet to get going and were making unforced errors.
It took 12 minutes for Crewe to muster an attack with any real purpose. Green was instrumental down the left hand side and he waited for the overlap of Pickering. The left-back whipped over a cross but Kirk couldn’t make a proper connection with his header. If he had then Mark Halstead could well have been making his first real save of the afternoon.
Good hold up play from the experienced Porter presented Wintle with a chance to strike from 25 yards but he lifted his effort clear of Halstead’s crossbar. Bowery then had a shot blocked on the edge of the box. Finally, after an indifferent start we were looking something like.
Kirk sprung into life on 24 minutes and after running at the Morecambe defence he was denied a shot at goal by the covering Sam Lavelle, who smuggled it behind for a corner. Before the set-piece was taken, Morecambe were forced into change with Leitch-Smith appearing to overstretch his hamstring too much. He was replaced by Rhys Oates.
After settling down Crewe finally broke the deadlock on 27 minutes. Porter and Bowery were both involved in the initial build up down the right hand side and after Ng was denied a run, the ball eventually fell to Jones. He waited for the spin to subside before adjusting his feet to get a shot off. It certainly took a deflection on his way past Halstead but Jones had registered his fifth goal of the season to give Crewe a deserved lead.
On 33 minutes, Morecambe thought they had levelled things up when Kevin Ellison stole in behind Hunt to lift an effort over the advancing Garratt. It looked odds on to be an equaliser, but Captain Ray didn’t give it up and made a miraculous clearance from the line. Ellison complained that it had gone over the line but Ray had protected our lead.
A purposeful run from Ng then saw him glide past a couple of opponents and into the Morecambe box with his low strike saved well by Halstead. Crewe were looking the more likely side to score again and after Bowery had swung over another cross, both Green and Jones had a stab at it with Jones sending his shot too high to trouble the Morecambe goalkeeper. It was another presentable chance for the Alex.
The Morecambe captain, Alex Kenyon, had a great chance to turn and get a shot off with three minutes of the first half remaining but after finding himself in a good position, he elected to try and pick out a team-mate rather than go for goal himself.
Early in the second half, a clever clipped cross from Green so nearly dropped in behind for Bowery but the covering Luke Conlan did exceeding well to head behind for a corner. A great interception and probing run from Wintle saw him burst into the Morecambe box and he intelligently found Porter. It was a bit behind him to get a shot off himself but he laid it off perfectly for the supportive Jones but on his occasion his side-footed shot was blocked by a cluster of bodies.
Moments later, the Morecambe substitute Oates got in behind the Crewe back line - but was denied superbly by Garratt. It was a smart save to deny the forward, who was soon booked for a late tackle on Pickering.
Another promising move from the home side saw Jordan Cranston whip over an excellent delivery from the Crewe right and after taking an almighty bounce to evade Oates, Ellison came on it at the far post but it wasn’t easy to control a shot. He did get something on it but through a combination of the diving Garratt and the well placed Pickering, Crewe got the ball clear of danger.
Just after the half an hour, Pickering was caught out by Ellison on the edge of the Crewe penalty area and after playing an advantage to allow Oates to go through, the striker was denied by Garratt, the referee incorrectly pulled it back for the initial foul.
Surely, a strong advantage had already been played and the decision would prove costly. Andrew Tutte curled his free-kick perfectly round the wall and Garratt couldn’t get over and enough of a hand on it to keep it out. It was level and Morecambe had certainly upped their game during the second half.
Kirk was replaced by Ainley on 65 minutes as Crewe tried to recapture a foothold in the game. At this stage of the proceedings, Morecambe looked the more likely side to go on and win the game. Oates wriggled free on the edge of the box to shoot through a set of legs, but Garratt did well to see it and collected with relative ease.
Mandeville was booked for standing on Ng’s trailing foot after he has played a pass and the referee quickly diffused the situation by issuing a quick yellow card. From the resultant free-kick, Jones hit the cross of the game but again a Crewe body could not apply a definitive touch at the far post.
With 15 minutes left, Morecambe made a double change with Mendes-Gomes and Paul McKay replacing goalscorer Tutte and the booked Mandeville.
Ainley got himself going with a drop of the shoulder and a low drive but Halstead was equal to it. Ainley’s next involvement saw him reach the by-line but after digging out a cross, it was just too high for Porter to get a clean header on target.
It was much better from Crewe, Ainley was involved again with ten minutes to go and after finding Jones, the midfielder’s powerful drive was blocked by Conlan.
With seven minutes left, another cross from Cranston to the back post put Pickering under pressure and after Oates had applied a deft touch down to Ellison, he took a step back, composed himself and showed real quality to hit a dipping shot up and over Garratt. His celebration was a bit bizarre as he ran over to apparently silence Artell and his staff. Take nothing away from the quality he showed for his goal though.
After Ray had fouled Mendes-Gomes some 25 yards from goal, Garratt had to produce a good save to push away Cranston’s free-kick.
With time running out, Artell made a double change with Bowery and Wintle being replaced by forwards, Dale and Miller.
Miller played a key part in the late equaliser. He ran with it, doing well initially, then losing the ball and then keeping it alive by flicking it out to Ng and after his cross was threatening, a stupid push on Porter gave us a match saving chance from the spot. Porter didn’t let us down and the fans behind that goal celebrated wildly.