Crewe Alexandra were forced to come from behind before celebrating their first win in seven games against Hartlepool United at Gresty Road.
Early substitute Evan Horwood opened the scoring for the visitors with his first touch of the game but on loan Arsenal youngster Chuks Aneke equalised on the stroke of half-time after Mathias Pogba had already missed a penalty.
Home defender Mark Ellis then grabbed a winner courtesy of his first goal for the club with twenty minutes remaining.
Manager Steve Davis earlier recalled Max Clayton into the side with Gregor Robertson dropping out and being replaced at left-back by Matt Tootle.
But it was another left-sided defender who began the scoring on nine minutes when Horwood collected Ryan Noble’s pass moments after replacing Andy Monkhouse and lifted his finish over advancing goalkeeper Alan Martin.
His opposite number Scott Flinders gathered from newcomer Andy Bond and then denied Aneke after Clayton had previously struck wide. Ellis next headed over from a corner and Tootle forced another save until Martin blocked from Anthony Sweeney at the other end.
Alex striker Pogba saw an effort ruled out for offside and then wastefully blazed a 40th minute penalty over the crossbar after Peter Hartley had handled inside the area.
However, Kelvin Mellor supplied Aneke to despatch a glorious finish into the top corner and equalise just before the break, although AJ Leitch-Smith still found sufficient time to head Luke Murphy’s cross wide.
Crewe goalkeeper Martin came out to deny goalscorer Horwood at the start of the second-half before adding to his growing reputation when making a brilliant stop to keep out Noble after Sweeney had already headed wide.
He could do nothing though from Sweeney’s next effort and it was Tootle this time the saviour and producing a great clearance off the line. Horwood was then wide as the visitors continued to look dangerous.
Even so the Alex were still the side forging ahead with twenty minutes remaining as Ellis got on the end of Murphy’s low free-kick and tucked in what eventually proved their winner.
But Hartlepool clearly weren’t finished and Sweeney was only marginally wide with a volley before Neil Austin unluckily struck the underside of the crossbar.
Home striker Leitch-Smith missed the target in reply, although it was the visitors still coming forward during the later stages as James Poole, Craig Lynch and Steve Howard continued to search for an equaliser.
Crewe Alexandra: Martin, Mellor, Davis, Ellis, Tootle, Murphy, Aneke (Daniels 80), Bond, M. Clayton (Turton 89), Pogba, Leitch-Smith (Dugdale 90)
subs (unused): Garratt, Robertson, Ray, Waters
Goals: Aneke (45), Ellis (70)
Hartlepool United: Flinders, Austin, Baldwin, Holden, Hartley, Franks (Lynch 80), Monkhouse (Horwood 8), Sweeney, Murray, Noble (Poole 80), Howard
subs (unused): McHugh, Collins, Humphreys, James
Goals: Horwood (9)
Ref: J. Simpson
|LATEST ON THE VITAL CREWE FORUMS …|