Morecambe 1 Crewe Alexandra 2: Visitors win the battle of the strugglers
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Stephen Robinson’s Shrimps have collected only six points from the last 39 after surrendering a half-time advantage to end the year with another defeat.
Greg Leigh’s header had given them a 36th minute lead before second-half goals in the space of seven minutes from Chris Porter and Luke Murphy saw the visitors depart with the points.
The Shrimps had made three changes from the side which drew with Fleetwood Town a week-and-a-half earlier.
In came Callum Jones, Aaron Wildig and Jonah Ayunga with Ryan Cooney, Alfie McCalmont and Cole Stockton the men missing.
Both sides had gone into the game on the back of Covid-enforced breaks, the Shrimps having been out of action since December 18 and their visitors a week earlier.
Nevertheless, it was Crewe who pinned back the Shrimps in the early stages with a number of corners inside the first three minutes.
They came to nothing, however, but Crewe continued on the front foot with Rio Adebisi seeing a shot blocked and Tom Lowery finding the side netting from the loose ball.
Morecambe responded with Wildig turning his man but curling wide, while Ayunga cut in from the left-hand side and saw a shot kept out by Dave Richards.
Callum Ainley did likewise at the other end but the first half rapidly descended into a match between two sides appearing low in confidence and in need of a positive result.
That changed nine minutes before the break when Adam Phillips’ fine ball in from the right-hand side found Leigh, of all people, in the centre of the six-yard box where he headed home with aplomb.
There was still time before the break for Wildig to have a shot blocked as the Shrimps sought to double their advantage.
It almost happened within 46 seconds of the restart when Phillips charged down Richards’ attempted clearance but, rather than rebound into the goal, the ball went out for a throw.
That was Phillips’ last involvement as, moments later, he hobbled off to be replaced by Toumani Diagouraga.
Then, on 52 minutes, Crewe drew level when Lowery was allowed to work his way into the box before crossing for Porter to nod home the equaliser.
Jon Obika had a shot blocked before Crewe completed their comeback just before the hour.
A free-kick was partially cleared and Murphy, 20 yards out, brought the ball under control before unleashing a dipping effort over Kyle Letheren.
Back came Morecambe as Wildig volleyed over when well placed before, seconds later, the Shrimps won back possession and Richards turned away Ayunga’s shot.
Robinson reshuffled his pack, introducing Arthur Gnahoua and Wes McDonald for Obika and Wildig respectively, in search of an equaliser.
Jones had a shot deflected behind, only for the referee to award a goal-kick, but that was as close as they came to a leveller despite eight minutes of added time.
With bottom club Doncaster Rovers their opponents on Sunday, the Shrimps need to rediscover the winning formula - and quickly.
Morecambe: Letheren, McLaughlin, O’Connor, Gibson, McLoughlin, Jones, Wildig (McDonald 70), Leigh, Phillips (Diagouraga 48), Ayunga, Obika (Gnahoua 68). Subs not used: Andresson, Delaney, Mensah, Harrison.
Crewe Alexandra: Richards, Offord, Sass-Davies, Williams, Ainley (Johnson 77), Lowery, Murphy, Finney (Robertson 84), Adebisi (Ramsay 52), Porter, Mandron. Subs not used: Jaaskelainen, Gomes, Daniels, O’Riordan.
Referee: Sebastian Stockbridge.
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