Often criticised for being too placid following defeat, Dario Gradi was holding no punches following yesterday’s shambolic 4-3 defeat at Morecambe.
After last weekend’s morale boosting win at Vale Park some were saying that the corner may have been turned. On 85 minutes at Morecambe there was weight to that argument.
It was against the run of play that Crewe took the lead 17 minutes into the match, Joel Grant pouncing on a loose ball on the edge of the area to fire home a low shot. Morecambe may have felt hard done by after previously dominating the opening period of the match.
The goal spurred the Alex on and after 10 minutes of domination Shaun Miller doubled the advantage. Miller capitalised on Donaldson’s work, nodding the ball over the line after Donaldson had caught the keeper way off his line.
It seems an all too familiar story these days that Dario’s side struggles to get back up to speed after half time, and it was the same again at Morecambe. The Shrimps came at us 100mph with little response but ‘brave the storm’ from the Railwaymen.
The defence soon cracked under pressure. Phillips flapped at a ball on his near post and left himself little chance as Phil Jevons pounced on the loose ball to pull one back.
That goal should have been nothing more than a consolation when a solo Donaldson goal restored the two goal lead just ten minutes later. Cutting in from the right wing to place the ball nicely into the keeper’s right hand post, Donaldson had seemingly sealed the three points for the Alex.
It seemed only a formality when, minutes later, Morecambe were reduced to ten men. Andy Parrish took Miller down as the pacey striker ran clear of the defence leaving the referee absolutely no choice.
If Crewe were not getting every chance possible to seal the win once and for all then a hand ball from the resulting free kick was offering the three points with a ribbons and a cherry on top as the referee pointed to the penalty spot.
But it was from that moment on that things went from bad to the absolute pits.
A week on from his match winning penalty at Vale, Miller placed this week’s penalty right into the arms of the goal keeper. Even so, 15 minutes after the penalty the score was 1-3 to the Alex, three minutes plus stoppage time remaining. Nothing could go wrong now, right?
Wrong. 87th minute and a high ball into the box landed on the head of a completely unmarked, unchallenged Wayne Curtis to make it 2-3 as three Crewe defenders stood and watched.
92nd minute and another high ball, this time from a corner, found another unmarked Morecambe head. Paul Mullin making it 3-3 as the 492 Crewe fans headed for the exit in disgust.
94th minute and it was the ultimate kick in the teeth. A carbon copy of the equaliser and it was 4-3, Morecambe celebrating like they had won promotion.
Post-match Dario said:
‘It has only confirmed that we need someone here who can deal with those set-plays and corners. The search for a new centre-half who can cope with that starts with a game tomorrow. Morecambe looked like they were going to score from every free-kick and corner and our starting positions were not right.
‘Steve Phillips made some very good saves but he didn’t do well for two of their goals and he has to accept criticism there like everyone else.
‘I will make changes for Monday because the play-offs are dead. We are not mentioning that again. We have to rebuild for next season now and I will try and solve the problems we have.
‘The personnel will change because we have some players who will struggle to play two games in a short space of time.’