Morecambe 1-2 Crewe Report
Steve Davis may be looking to change the Alex's approach in the first team but in true Railwaymen fashion he had two 17 year olds to thank for getting him his first points as Alex manager.
England U-18s internationals Nick Powell and Max Clayton each scored in the last 15 minutes at Morecambe's Globe Arena to secure a much needed win to put an end to our four game losing streak as well as Morecambe's five game unbeaten streak.
The game itself however was not one for the neutrals. It was possibly the most basement league like game since we returned to League Two. It was a scrappy affair with both teams finding it tough to really get the ball down and play for long periods.
Morecambe provided a good test for Davis' new 'get stuck in' approach. They're a big, strong and organised outfit, more than happy to put themselves about to get what they want.
They've been up around the top since the start of the season because of that and will no doubt remain there till May. It is what has got many teams out of this division in recent years, including Stevenage last season, and it`s something Davis wants a hint of in his own side.
It was pleasing then to see an Alex side not get the frights, as we have seen so many times before against the more physical side. Davis allowing the players the freedom to be equally as niggling in the tackle & get in the faces of Morecambe ensured that the Shrimps were never allowed a foothold of the game.
It made for a pretty even, well fought game. We started the brighter with a dominant first 10 minutes but Morecambe will perhaps feel they should have had a goal by half time when Danny Carlton was guilty of steering a free header inches wide of the post.
We never really got to grips at the other end of the pitch in the first half, once again it was evident just how vital a "big man" may be to our season. Despite their best efforts, Ajay & Miller couldn`t get the ball to stick and were all too easily snuffed out by Morecambe`s back line. Nick Powell was to provide our best chances but each of those he blazed high or wide.
The second half was a similar affair, neither side were peppering either goal but as it looked like the game just may hit stalemate with 20 minutes to go, out came the old Alex defensive frailties.
Kevin Ellison was allowed, somehow, to power clear of Adam Dugdale & Matt Tootle to leave a rather high Alex back line trailing in his wake. Steve Phillips thwarted his first shot but was left helpless as the former Leicester man slotted in the rebound.
Being 1-0 down away from home is not a good omen for the Alex, it was some four and a half years ago we last fought our way back from a deficit away from home. Another test for Davis and his wish for a winning mentality within the team.
The Alex pushed on though and hit back within minutes. Nick Powell gave the experienced Will Haining the run around as he started dictating the Alex attacks, so it was only ever going to be the youngster who pulled the Alex level.
Picking the ball up 30 yards out, Powell took it in field before smashing it beyond Roche in the Morecambe net. It was his third goal of the season, each of them away from Gresty Road and each of them from outside of the area.
It was about Powell`s last action of the match as Davis opted to go slightly more defensive, bringing on son Harry to act as the anchorman of the midfield. The team weren`t for settling for a draw however, we still looked dangerous on the break through Byron Moore & Ajay Leitch-Smith.
It was from the final surge upfield of the match that eventually sparked huge celebrations in the away end. A Leitch-Smith cross in the 94th minute caused a mass scramble six yards out; Morecambe`s attempted clearance was only sent back towards goal by an acrobatic overhead kick from Byron Moore.
Luke Murphy`s close range header from Moore`s ball could only be parried out by the keeper straight into the path of subsitute Max Clayton, who had the easy job of poking the ball into the back of the net.
It has to be said, we haven`t seen such celebrations from fans in the away end or from players in some time. Whilst one away win at Morecambe doesn`t right the last five years, it goes a long way to adding to the buzz around the start of Davis` era.
It was most certainly a win that would not have happened two or three weeks ago. If we hadn`t have been bullied off the pitch long before the equaliser, I`m not sure we`d have gone for the win.
There is still plenty of work left to be done by Davis & the players if we`re not going to be stuck in the bottom half this season but the signs are definitely there that they`re up for it..