HEART-on-sleeve Morecambe battled for their lives to keep the Football League dream alive as they dug deep to draw 0-0 at York in the first leg of the play-off semi-final on Friday night.

The Shrimps knew they were in for a torrid time in the War of the Roses - and the 90-minute slug fest was riveting, can't keep your eye off it stuff.

The quality of football wasn't champagne stuff - but in the cauldron of the KitKat Crescent on a night when there was no place to hide it was never going to be vintage.

Instead a 6,660 crowd - believe me, the volume could have come from 50,000 - was treated to an enthralling, ding-dong battle in which the Shrimps stood proud with their battling quality.

York started in frantic style, hardly surprising when their cartoon characture of a manager Billy McEwan cranks up the tension to unbearable levels.

A Craig Farrell free-kick inside 90 seconds caused a heart-in-mouth moment as it fizzed past a post before we were greeted to the first moment of several down sides with blatant cheating from the White Rose men.

Craig Stanley - a huge player on play-off nights - had a coming together with Neal Bishop as they crunched into a challenge.

Referee Gary Lewis, not the strongest the Conference has ever seen, awarded York a free-kick before Bishop got right into Stanley's face as the pair walked away.

Suddenly Bishop reeled away holding his face in mock agony and every Yorkshire voice bayed for a red card for Stanley as York's players insisted there had been a head-butt...there hadn't.

Thankfully Lewis was on the spot and spoke to both players for a considerable time. To be honest, Stanley didn't even deserve speaking to but at least that moment didn't put him off his game and he was a key man through the rest of the match.

Ged Brannan was in the mood to tackle a truck before there was a genuine escape for the Shrimps on 25 minutes as Clayton Donaldson - bound for the Scottish Premier League next season - got in behind the defence.

Donaldson, though, has a reputation for hitting the deck too easily and when he went down under the merest hint of a Jim Bentley's challenge it could easily have spelled danger for the Morecambe captain.

Evans waved play-on, though. Reputations count for much in football - and Donaldson is the sort of striker who has a reputation which rough and tough Scottish defenders at the likes of Inverness Caley Thistle, Aberdeen and Hearts will test out when he makes his debut for Hibernian.

Danny Adams then cut Manny Panther in two giving Craig Farrell the chance to test Steven Drench - the keeper was equal to it with a fine stop.

The Shrimps were on the rack but earned respite when Craig James went into the book for a foul on Garry Thompson.

York moaned that it was the first foul their players had committed...too bad, it was a potential leg-breaker. Fortunately Thompson was okay and Morecambe started to get into their swing.

Michael Twiss curled a whipping and dipping free-kick over the wall to test Tom Evans before the hero became a defensive star on the stroke of half-time as he lunged in to nick the ball off Donaldson, who surprisingly didn't fall over.

York were always going to fly out of the traps in the second half and Drench saved really well from Martyn Woolford before excelling himself to save supremely from Panther.

Stanley was full of running and set up Thompson on a rare raid but he wasted the opportunity before the calming influence of Brannan was lost as his weary legs finally conceded and he limped off, albeit after taking a whack to the ankle.

Seconds later it was panic stations as Donaldson broke clear and raced away from Chris Blackburn and Bentley. He bore down on goal and it looked a certain scorer as Drench advanced before, from nowhere, Adam Yates appeared with the tackle of the season to concede the corner.

Morecambe then nearly grabbed a goal as play opened up but Wayne Curtis couldn't convert from a tight angle, although it appeared as though keeper Evans took a fair chunk of him with his lunge.

The Yates again saved the day with another perfectly-timed tackle to deny the racing Woolford as he broke into the box.

McEwan was pleading with his fans to get behind the side. The only noise that could be heard came from the open away end and the Morecambe players responded. They were immense and forced their first corner in the 88th minute.

Twiss curled it in - and Evans flapped before atoning a minute later as Twiss unleashed a moment of brilliance on the game.

Some 35-yards away from goal and facing the wrong way, Twiss juggled and turned and volleyed in one movement. Evans saved marvellously. It was a moment out of keeping with the rest of the game.

There was still time for more play-acting from Donaldson but it was destined to finish 0-0.

Half-time in an intriguing tie - it's all to play for on Monday.