Crewe miss chances to secure three points and go top but Morecambe made it tough for the Alex.
The former Morecambe stalwart, David Artell, knows better than most that a trip to Morecambe always presents a tough afternoon and so it proved for his Crewe Alexandra side this afternoon. Crewe had chances to collect all three points but had to settle for one in the end.
Morecambe are greatly improved under Derek Adams and whilst they are fighting for their EFL status their work ethic has to be admired. They also play some neat possession football too and asked Crewe some questions in defence.
Saying that the Railwaymen conjured up the better chances at the Globe Arena this afternoon, hitting the woodwork twice through Chris Porter and Stephen Walker and had other good chances that were not taken. If Crewe had been more clinical in front of goal then we would have collected those 3 points in this exciting promotion race.
Crewe took the led two minutes into the second half after skipper Perry Ng fired in at the far post from a scramble at a corner. Morecambe’s main threat Aaron Wildig hit back with just over 20 minutes left after Crewe had failed to clear a high ball with any real decisiveness.
Crewe kept going to the death and looked the more likely side to go on and win the three points. There was a late break in stoppage time when Crewe broke with large numbers but a cynical challenge from Adam Phillips on Ng resulted in a late red card.
David Artell had the luxury of naming an unchanged squad for the trip to Morecambe, so that meant Daniel Powell and Chuma Anene started on the substitutes’ bench. Midfielder Tom Lowery was close to being considered and certainly has a chance of being fit for Tuesday’s trip to Exeter City. Olly Lancashire was also left out after only recently returning from injury.
Morecambe boss Derek Adams named our former forward, AJ Leitch-Smith, in their starting line-up and our former defender Christian Mbulu on the bench.
Crewe created the first chance in the opening couple of minutes following an early corner. Following a short one that was cleared into midfield, Ryan Wintle, clipped a fantastic ball in behind Jordan Cranston to find Charlie Kirk and after a drop of the shoulder to manoeuvre some space, he drove his shot just wide of Christoffer Mafoumbi’s left hand post. If it had been the other side of the post then Crewe could well have been celebrating the opening goal because it was a promising opening for the Alex winger and the Morecambe goalkeeper had been flat-footed.
Moments later and with Crewe really on the front foot, Ng’s rampaging run found Finney just inside the Morecambe penalty area but he couldn’t quite adjust his feet in time to receive it cleanly and get a shot off.
Morecambe’s first sight of the Crewe goal saw AJ Leitch-Smith bundle Pickering over on the by-line and his clever cut back was lashed wastefully over by Aaron Wildig. Crewe protested that it should have been a free-kick for Leitch-Smith’s push on the Alex left-back but nothing was forthcoming from referee Graham Sailsbury.
The lively Leitch-Smith then stole in behind Offord to reach a searching pass from Steven Old and his half volleyed cross over our six-yard box arguably deserved one his team-mates supporting him but they hadn’t gambled and a combination of skipper Ng and Nottingham cleared any prospect of danger.
After a fairly frantic start to the game, it settled into a spell of both teams having periods of good possession but playing in front of the back fours.
On 17 minutes, Crewe created a wonderful opening. Ng and Walker interchanged down the right before the ball was floated forward for the head of Porter. He applied a perfectly cushioned header through to his captain and he unselfishly chopped back to take out the onrushing Mafoumbi and give Porter the chance to shoot goalwards.
Porter’s sliding effort hit a retreating defender to deflect it just wide. You have to credit the Morecambe defenders for their desire to cover their goalkeeper and protect their goal.
On 23 minutes, Morecambe got behind our defensive line once again but on this occasion, Will Jaaskelainen pulled out a decent save to deny Wildig close to his right hand post. The Alex goalkeeper applied a strong hand on it to push behind for a corner to the home side.
Jaaskelainen’s next save was the better one. Gomes broke down the Crewe left hand side and after the ball was worked to Adam Phillips, his accurate cross was met by the head of Wildig but the young Finn was equal to it and pushed it confidently over his crossbar.
In reply, a cross from Nottingham saw a flick header from Porter deflected over the crossbar. From the resultant corner taken by Jones, Morecambe managed to survive a scramble with Porter and Nottingham having efforts towards goal. Finney shot at the gloves of Mafoumbi as Crewe looked to break the deadlock.
On the half an hour mark, Jaaskelainen had to be alert again to save from Jordan Slew from close range after full-back Ryan Cooney had whipped over a splendid delivery into our six yard box. Crewe looked a threat going forward but were worryingly keeping our back door ajar as well.
Walker left Cranston on his backside with his neat footwork but after a forceful run to the by-line his low cross was placed behind for yet another Crewe corner.
Wildig and Leitch-Smith were a nuisance and Crewe needed a superb recovery run from Ryan Wintle to halt Wildig in his tracks as he threatened to enter the Crewe penalty area after the two of them had combined again.
With five minutes of the first half remaining, Finney allowed the ball to roll across his body and intelligently made the by-line. His cut back found Porter and the club’s leading scorer side footed his close range effort against the post. It was the closest we had been to a goal and Porter was a touch unlucky because he was so close to the post when the chance to fell to him. He did everything he could in the reaction time he had.
There was still time for Crewe to conjure up another promising move. Pickering and Kirk combined to create some space in the middle of the pitch for Kirk to exploit and with no-one entering the possibility of closing him down, his well struck effort from 20 yards had to be pushed over by Mafoumbi. It was understandable that Derek Adams was livid on the sidelines at the space his side had granted Kirk to come away from his wing and get an unopposed shot off.
Almost immediately from the restart, a fantastic pass from Finney sent Kirk in behind Cooney and rampaging down the left. His low cross nearly found Porter inside the six yard box, but was cleared for a corner. Morecambe didn’t deal with the set-piece and it dropped to the unmarked Ng at the far post and he stabbed it home in front of a jubilant away following. It was just the start to the second half we needed and a real captain’s goal at a crucial time.
From a controversial corner given to Morecambe, Crewe got away with one as a dipping cross dropped under the crossbar but Nottingham was on hand to smuggle it behind.
Wildig was then booked for a reckless lunge into Offord. It looked ugly but Offord had done enough to get out of the way of it. He was lucky.
A flowing move from Crewe saw Finney win an excellent header to find Jones and his lifted pass over Cooney found Kirk but he dragged his effort wide of the post. At the other end, Offord made a fantastic sliding intervention to deny AJ Leitch-Smith going one v one with Nottingham.
Just after the hour mark, the Morecambe winger Carlos Mendes-Gomes stole in behind Pickering and was really unfortunate to see his lifted effort clip the underside of the crossbar and bounce clear. It was a let off for the Alex.
Morecambe made the first change of the afternoon with John O’Sullivan replacing Slew.
On 65 minutes, another tricky run from Walker should have brought Crewe a foul on the edge of the box or indeed just inside but the referee allowed play to continue and Ng lashed his shot wide of the target. Crewe argued that they probably didn’t want the advantage played there.
On 68 minutes, Morecambe hit back thanks to a well drilled shot from Wildig. Jaaskelainen came for a high cross and didn’t get an awful lot onto his punch and it fell invitingly for Morecambe’s best player to drill home his fourth goal of the season. Crewe had been exposed on a few occasions during the afternoon and the home side took full advantage of our inability to clear our lines on this occasion. Saying that, Wildig’s low strike was true to find the bottom corner.
On 72 minutes, Walker did everything right to net his second goal for the Alex after he had run in behind but after beating Mafoumbi with his low shot, he was unbelievably unlucky to see the ball hit the foot of the post.
The equaliser prompted David Artell into his first change of the game with game with Chuma Anene replacing Porter.
The substitutions continued from both managers with Finney making way for Paul Green and for Morecambe, Harvey Bradbury replaced Leitch-Smith.
With 15 minutes on the clock, Anene showed some real quality to collect the ball and turn in the centre of the pitch and his perfect through ball found Walker. The on-loan Boro starlet raced through but his final shot was wild and the youngster could have looked across to the supportive Green, who had just come on. He couldn’t have been helping himself to a tap in.
The last throw of the Alex dice saw Powell on for Kirk. Brewitt also came on for the Shrimps for their scorer Wildig.
As those minutes ticked away, Crewe continued to press looking for that winner. Phillips was rightly sent off for a reckless and cynical tackle on Ng as Crewe threatened to break away in stoppage time and late effort from Walker was on target but not testing Mafoumbi enough.
With the chances we had it was probably two points dropped but Crewe can quickly roll on to Exeter on Tuesday night.