HOCKEY: CREWE crashed to their fourth successive home defeat on Saturday.
The Vagrants were made to pay for an absence of a clinical nerve in front of goal as their workmanlike opponents ground out a deserved result.
Crewe had opened the match in confident mood and enjoyed a good spell of pressure in the Northop half. Dave Holland saw a rifled shot saved after a short corner while Neil Darling just failed to connect with a dangerous cross.
Paul Lambsdale, Gary Roberts and Nick Marshall repelled attacks at the other end, but despite fluent passing in the final third, Crewe could not convert.
The lively Roberts, Jon Beech and Andrew Ashworth missed chances before being caught on the counter. A deflection made it 1-0 to Northop.
After the break, Crewe resumed aggressively. Tim Alexander's high shot was well saved while Ravi Kaler kept Crewe in the game with a fine stop after a short corner. However, the home side soon conceded again to leave an uphill struggle.
The persistent Holland did reduce the deficit with a cracking first-time drove after a corner, and Crewe drove forward again through Roberts, Beech, Holland and Jon Woodhart.
James Capper was busy but struggled to make an impression, and Northop's keeper was again called to vital action towards the end as the visitor's held out. nCrewe seconds shared a pulsating 3-3 draw at Oxton thirds on Saturday.
A depleted side featuring just 10 men took a well-deserved lead after a prolonged pressure. Steve Bowyer passed to Rob Jepson who slipped the ball to Andrew Ticehurst to smash home.
Oxton tried to respond and only excellent defending from Phil Morrant, Dave Pickthall, Danny Oaks and Russ Howard kept them at bay.
The rearguard action provided the platform for the lead to be doubled. Ticehurst added his second after displaying super mid-air control and slipping his shot past the despairing keeper.
Will Murphy made a string of excellent saves, but Oxton got one back after a series of short corners and levelled matters soon after, as their extra man began to pay off.
Top scorer Graham Cooke fired Vagrants back into the ascendancy before the break, after picking up the rebound from a Jepson strike.
Crewe were unlucky to concede another equaliser in the second half and Danny Oaks needed stitches after being hit in the head with a stick.
While he was down, Oxton rammed home the leveller.
Crewe thirds were hammered 9-1 by Wilmslow first team after losing defender Mike Fowles with a head injury. Steve Douglas scored the consolation.
Vagrants Ladies lost 5-0 at Wigton.