Crewe Alexandra’s outside hopes of an end-of-season play-off place received a serious blow as Brentford moved back up to third in the table with a 2-0 victory at Gresty Road.
The Bees took a twelfth-minute lead when Bradley Wright-Phillips headed in Shaleum Logan’s delivery before substitute Marcello Trotta eventually settled the issue with just seven minutes remaining.
Manager Steve Davis earlier made a couple of changes from the Wembley triumph with on loan full-back Kevin Stewart and striker AJ Leitch-Smith coming in for Kelvin Mellor and Chuks Aneke.
The visitors certainly began with purpose while claiming themselves a number of corners during the opening exchanges and they were soon rewarded when Wright-Phillips headed them into an early lead.
Crewe then suffered a further blow with goalkeeper Steve Phillips colliding with Tom Adeyemi and having to be replaced by Alan Martin midway through the first-half.
Their opponents continued to appear the better side and almost doubled their advantage when Harlee Dean headed another corner against the crossbar, until Matt Tootle finally forced a save from Simon Moore from the edge of the other area.
Brentford reacted to that by goalscorer Wright-Phillips’ 25-yard effort calling substitute keeper Martin into sharp action before Bees midfielder Jonathan Douglas fired wide at the back post.
The Alex had shouts for a penalty ignored just ahead of the interval when Logan appeared to handle Tootle’s cross, while Brad Inman struck over upon the restart and Max Clayton also tested Moore.
A couple more substitutions followed from the hosts with skipper Luke Murphy and Inman being replaced by Ollie Turton and Ryan Colclough, although it was former Crewe striker Clayton Donaldson with a header and Douglas who were both wide as the visitors looked for a second goal.
That finally arrived when substitute Trotta volleyed in superbly after being found by Douglas on 83 minutes to further strengthen their automatic promotion challenge.
Crewe Alexandra: Phillips (Martin 22), Tootle, Davis, Ellis, Stewart, Murphy (Turton 61), Osman, Inman (Colclough 69), M. Clayton, Leitch-Smith, B. Moore
subs (unused): Ray, West, Aneke, Ellington
Brentford: S. Moore, Craig, Dean, Logan, Bidwell, Forshaw (Hodson 77), Saunders (Diagouraga 72), Douglas, Adeyemi, Donaldson, Wright-Phillips (Trotta 82)
subs (unused): Gounet, O’Connor, Reeves, El Alagui
Goals: Wright-Phillips (12), Trotta (83)
Ref: R. Madley
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