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Sunday, 21 April, 2002, 14:53 GMT 15:53 UK
Crewe relegated
Crewe's Gresty Road
Gresty Road will see Second Division football
Crewe 2-0 Rotherham

Crewe slipped out of the First Division after a five-year stay despite beating Rotherham with goals from Rodney Jack and Efe Sodje.

Over the last three seasons Crewe have flirted with relegation, each year successfully navigating their way out of trouble.

But this time the odds were too heavily stacked against Crewe - Dario Gradi's side had not won in 11 games - and there was to be no last minute reprieve.

At the start of Sunday, Crewe had trailed fourth-from-bottom Sheffield Wednesday, who were entertaining promotion-chasing Wolves at Hillsborough, by three points.

And with a significantly worst goal difference than Wednesday, Crewe needed to win by at least ten goals and hope Wolves won at Hillsbrough.

As it was Sheffield Wednesday finished a point ahead of Crewe after forcing a 2-2 draw with Wolves.

If the mission was impossible, Crewe did not let on to the 7,904 fans at Gresty Road and after just 14 seconds Dean Ashton set up Rodney Jack on the right-hand side of the box.

Jack's right-footed shot was powerful enough, but it flashed past Mike Pollitt's goal.

1,000 games

Crewe finally took the lead on 25 minutes with a cracking right-foot shot from the edge of the box by Jack.

He caused mayhem in the Rotherham defence with a purposeful run, finding Ashton, who exchanged passes with Neil Sorvel before nodding onto the bar.

From there Crewe worked it to Jack, who produced a clean finish.

Soon after Alan Lee hit the post for Rotherham, but then Sodje doubled Crewe's advantage.

The Nigerian ghosted in at the far post to nod in Smith's bending free-kick, which had caught Rotherham flat-footed.

Just before Christmas, Gradi - the longest serving manager in England - had celebrated 1,000 games in charge of the club.

During his 19 years at the helm of the club, Gradi had only presided over one other relegation campaign during the 1990/91 season when Crewe were relegated to the old Division Four.

As he now plots promotion from the Second Division, Gradi will now hope to keep hold of Dean Ashton.

The 18-year-old, together with Rob Hulse, has formed a 23-goal partnership that has attracted regular interest from the scouts of Premiership clubs.


Crewe: Bankole, Wright, Walton, Sodje, Smith, Sorvel, Lunt, Whalley, Jack, Ashton, Hulse. Subs: Ince, Foster, Collins, Vaughan, Tait.

Rotherham: Pollitt, Scott, Swailes, McIntosh, Beech, Sedgwick, Daws, Talbot, Hurst, Byfield, Lee. Subs: Esson, Branston, Richard Barker, Mullin, Robins.

Referee: S Mathieson (Stockport).

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BBC Sport's Charlie Lambert
"Crewe didn't get the miracle they needed"
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