RAILWAYMEN KEEP HEADS ABOVE WATER
HE’S guided Crewe to two Wembley successes in his time with the Railwaymen but keeping Alexandra in League One tops the lot for boss Steve Davis.
Goals from Adam Dugdale and Mathias Pogba gave Crewe the win despite Preston getting one back in injury time from John Welsh.
Just one place and one point above the drop zone before kick-off against third-placed Preston, Crewe took matters into their own hands, sealing a first home win since February 1.
In Davies’ first season in charge at Gresty Road, he guided them to League Two promotion through the play-offs and they were back at Wembley last season, sealing the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy by beating Southend.
But Davis believes those achievements pale in comparison to avoiding a return to League Two on the final day of the season.
“I thought we were well worth the win and we wanted to do it ourselves we didn’t want to rely on other teams,” he said.
“It is a magnificent achievement, it dwarfs the other achievements from last season and the season before to stay in this league for Crewe is fantastic.
“It has been a rollercoaster since I took over in fairness we have had great success but this season was a real struggle.
“The young boys will benefit from this experience going through this type of season and finishing strong like we have and hopefully they can carry it on next season.”
Needing a win on the final day of the season to guarantee their survival Crewe started brightly and Dugdale’s first goal of the season gave them a deserved lead in the tenth minute.
The defender rose highest from Jon Guthrie’s back-post corner to power a header beyond Declan Rudd.
The Lilywhites flew out of the traps after the break and only a stunning save from by Ben Garratt stopped Joe Garner from equalising.
Crewe doubled their advantage on the hour mark after Uche Ikpeazu escaped the challenge of Bailey Wright before rolling the ball to Pogba who lashed the ball into the net.
Ikpeazu should have made it three moments later but headed a glorious cross from Byron Moore wide.
Preston did manage to pull one goal back as Welsh fired into the bottom corner in injury-time but Crewe held on to spark a mass pitch invasion on the final whistle.
Preston manager Simon Grayson was disappointed with the result as the Lilywhites had the opportunity to finish third – in the end they slipped to fifth and will now face Rotherham in the play-offs.
“It certainly wasn’t obviously what we wanted. We wanted to come here and win the football match to try to finish third but credit to Crewe they were better than us on the day,” he said.
“I’m not happy with how we played but we know what we have got now and we know we have to play Rotherham.
“I’d like to think the defeat won’t have too much impact it might even sharpen one or two up mentally, we have always reacted well after defeats. It was a timely reminder.
“We always knew it was going to come down to the final game of the season and you could finish in any of the play-off positions.
“Wherever you finish you want to be positive. There is no set way or given marker that guarantees you success.”
HEAD FIRST: Adam Dugdale scores for Crewe
STAR MAN UCHE IKPEAZ