HOCKEY: VAGRANTS men slipped into relegation trouble after becoming the first team to lose to rock-bottom Cheetham on Saturday.
The Crewe team's slump has seen them win just one of their last seven league games - and they reached a new low in being defeated by a Cheetham side that had picked up just one point from their previous 18 matches.
Vagrants started well enough but the first 20 minutes saw them fail to capitalise on a string of chances.
Andrew Ashworth, Jon Beech and James Capper all lost possession after promising build-ups while Andrew Tice-hurst and Capper missed clear-cut opportunities.
Cheetham snatched the lead in the 24th minute after a breakaway attack and although Crewe worked hard to put themselves level, their efforts floundered in front of goal with Ashworth and Nick Marshall going close and Capper hitting the post.
After a dressing down at half-time, Vagrants re-emerged with a spring in their steps and took just two minutes to find the finish that had previously eluded them.
Dave Holland unleashed a fierce cross and Capper smashed home his 11th goal of the season.
Cheetham almost regained their lead immediately, only to be denied by a goal-line clearance with goalkeeper Ravi Kaler beaten.
They were frustrated again by a double block by Mark Ritchie and Paddy Leese but were back in front by the hour mark after being awarded a penalty stroke which was duly converted.
Vagrants rallied but their efforts were to no avail.
They had a goal disallowed and felt they should have been awarded a penalty stroke when a defender chested down an aerial pass by Marshall. But, ultimately, it was their lack of a cutting edge which cost them dearly.
Vagrants have three games left to beat the drop, starting with Saturday's home game against Macclesfield (1.30pm).
Vagrants Seconds had no fixture but visit St Helens Firsts this Saturday (noon).
The Thirds completed their 10th successive victory as they moved to within three points of promotion to Division Five of the North West League, with a thrilling 4-3 win over Chester Thirds. Double strikes by Phil Washington and Neil Gibbons gave Crewe a 4-1 lead before Chester gave them a scare with two late goals.
The Thirds continue their promotion push at Oxton Fourths on Saturday (2pm). Vagrants Ladies lost 2-0 to second-placed Bowdon on Saturday but remain fifth in the North Feeder League with three matches remaining. They host Dalston this Saturday (1.30pm).