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Vagrants keep survival hopes alive with late equaliser
2:44pm Monday 18th March 2013 in Sport
A GOAL down and with just one minute left to play, Crewe Vagrants fought back to earn a vital point in their battle against North Hockey Division One relegation.
A hard-fought draw against promoted Gateshead in dramatic fashion was enough to reduce the gap between Crewe and safety to one point, though they will have to defeat relegation rivals Leeds in two weeks time to ensure their Division One status.
Despite a three-hour journey to the game, Crewe started well and pressured the Gateshead defence time and time again.
Great midfield play from Lewis Pantry and Ed Beak sent Pete Cornell breaking through and slot neatly past the outcoming keeper to snatch an early lead.
The visitors continued to work hard and press the ball with great movement and distribution, earning them a short corner from Andrew Ticehurst that allowed Chris Regan to whip in a low shot that was well-saved.
The rebound was hit goalwards by Phil Robinson but was stopped by a foot on the line, granting Vagrants a chance to take a two-goal lead from the resulting penalty flick, which was coolly dispatched by Chris Regan.
Crewe then absorbed some home pressure, Kasim Abas making a couple of stunning saves at the feet of the Gateshead forwards.
But Vagrants looked dangerous on the counter attack and both Cornell and Beak were unlucky not to convert after good work from James Capper and Richie Bowker down the right flank.
Despite plans to tighten their defence after the break, Crewe were undone by an early goal from Gateshead that warned of the difficulties to come.
This did nothing to deter Vagrants' attacking play, as more good work on the right saw Capper find Cornell, who's cross was missed by Ticehurst at the back post.
Some inconsistent umpiring lead to Crewe going down to nine men for a 10-minute period, though more excellent defending from William Hardcastle and William Rowlinson maintained the visitors' lead.
Unfortunately Gateshead then showed their prowess in front of goal and converted two quick short corners which left Crewe a lot to do with only seven minutes left.
They pressed hard looking for the equaliser, with Steve Bourne intercepting in midfield and distributing to Ed Beak, who drove into the area and won a short corner.
The final whistle was blown as Crewe set up for the corner, with the guests knowing they had to get something from the last attack of the game if they were to keep their survival hopes alive.
Up stepped corner specialist Chris Regan, who fired the drag flick high into the top corner to seal a well-deserved 3-3 draw and a chance to play Division One hockey again next season.
Crewe host Stockton and travel to Leeds and Hull in the next two weeks, with Crewe's nerve shure to be tested to the full as they season's climax approaches.