Stalemate at the Globe ArenaCrewe: Garratt, Turton, Davis, Guthrie, Bakayogo, Jones, Bingham, Cooper, Kiwomya, Kirk (Ainley, 81), Dagnall
Unused Subs: Richards, Nugent, Ray, Hollands, Udoh, Saunders
Crewe Alexandra started the New Year with a hard fought point at the Globe Arena and if it wasn’t for the agility of the Morecambe goalkeeper Barry Roche in twice denying James Jones and saving with his feet early on to deny Charlie Kirk his first goal at senior level, it could have been even better for the Railwaymen. It was defences on top as it ended goalless.
The Morecambe made one superb tip over to deny Jones in the second half. The home side had their fair share of chances too and Garratt made up for his mistake against Accrington Stanley on Saturday to deny Peter Murphy, Michael Rose and Kevin Ellison.
The closest the Shrimpers came to winning it saw our ex-midfielder Lee Molyneux hit the crossbar with a shot after he had replaced Murphy.
Steve Davis named an unchanged side for our first game of 2017. With Ryan Lowe still not fit enough to start at the Globe Arena, his usual strike partner Chris Dagnall captained the Crewe Alexandra side.
In the absence of Lowe, youngster Charlie Kirk once again operated behind Dagnall. The Morecambe squad contained the former Crewe player Lee Molyneux and the once on loan goalkeeper Daniel Nizic.
Crewe started the game in possession of the ball and an early corner was won by George Cooper as the Railwaymen tried to make a positive impact.
It was evident that Jim Bentley’s Morecambe side were keen to hit the front as soon as possible and load our box whenever the opportunity arose. Their captain Peter Murphy had an early downward header but it lacked the power to trouble Ben Garratt for the first time. Moments later, Zoumana Bakayogo had to judge a cross from Kevin Ellison to make sure he guided behind at the far post.
The first genuine chance of the game fell to Kirk on eight minutes. He ghosted in at the far post completely unmarked but after being found superbly by Cooper’s floating cross, he didn’t strike his first effort as well as he would have liked and his follow up struck the legs of the onrushing Barry Roche.
Cooper was finding some great pockets of space and another excellent delivery only needed a positive connection from the advanced full-back Ollie Turton but his near post effort was deflected behind for another Crewe corner.
The home side were granted a free-kick on the edge of the Crewe penalty area after Davis had tripped Murphy but their set-piece taker Michael Rose fired it centrally into Garratt’s mid-drift.
Dagnall nipped in behind the Morecambe back line but was forced wide and off balance by the alert Roche and it harmlessly crossed the by-line for a goalkick.
On 25 minutes, Garratt had to react and save bravely at the feet of Andrew Fleming as the ball bounced invitingly to him inside the six-yard box. The Crewe goalkeeper did really well to get down and hold onto the ball.
Two minutes later, a swift break from Alex Kiwomya saw him provide a low cross aimed at Dagnall and after he had scrapped for possession, the ball popped back to James Jones. The midfielder struck his shot well enough and Roche had to produce a terrific save to deny us the opener. From the corner, Kiwomya’s low drive from distance was deflected behind for a corner.
The corners kept arriving for both sides, with Bingham rushing out to block a shot from Murphy.
From yet another corner, Turton produced a fantastic low drive from over 25 yards that passed everyone but just cleared Roche’s left hand post as well. It was a tremendous effort with Turton doing well to keep it down.
As a fairly entertaining first half drew to a close, Fleming curled a shot straight at Garratt from the edge of the box. In response, Cooper won a corner with another forceful run, but Crewe couldn’t make it count as it dropped for Kiwomya.
Morecambe were forced into a change before the break, after Aaron McGowan was forced off with injury. Paul Mullin replaced him.
Rose was presented with the first half chance of the second half but he could only drag his effort from 20 yards well wide of the target. Ellison then thumped a shot straight at the Crewe goalkeeper as the home side tried to start the second period on the front foot.
Crewe needed to get a grip on the proceedings because Morecambe had certainly started the second half with a greater intensity. A super passage of play from the home side then created an opening for Ellison but his dug out shot was grasped by the well placed Garratt.
Kiwomya showed great pace to then leave two in his wake, but his near post cross was cut out.
Just after the hour mark, Kirk did likewise with a fine run down the Morecambe left and his low cross picked out Jones, who must have thought he had scored but his shot was superbly tipped over by the agile Roche. It was another stunning save from the Morecambe goalkeeper to deny Jones the opening goal of the game.
The former Alex player Molyneux replaced Murphy before Rose tested Garratt with another long range effort. Molyneux’s first contribution in the game saw him race into right hand channel and rock the Crewe crossbar with a fine shot across goal.
Turton, who was performing well for the Alex then had to have his bearings to turn a cross behind for a corner. Any slip from such close range would have resulted in an own goal but the right back judged it well enough to smuggle it behind.
Crewe continued to defend resolutely, with Davis and Guthrie winning the majority of headers and Turton and Bakayogo being at their competitive best.
More good work from Kiwomya found Cooper and his low cross was destined for a Dagnall tap-in until an outstretched Morecambe leg took it behind.
With 12 minutes left, Kiwomya couldn’t keep down a difficult half volley after a corner was cleared to him at the edge of the box.
To his great credit, Bakayogo continued to press forward and another encouraging run nearly put Dagnall through on goal but the striker couldn’t get the ball out of his feet to enter the box and the chance was lost.
As we entered the final stretch, Crewe made their first change with Ainley replacing Kirk. The youngster had an early shot that looked to be flicked goalwards by Dagnall but it didn’t bring a save out of Roche.
Crewe had a late chance to steal the points but Jones’ free-kick was just a yard the wrong side of the far post.