Crewe Alexandra surged into the top half of the table with a convincing 3-1 victory against Preston North End at Deepdale.
The visitors took the lead through skipper Luke Murphy just after the half-hour before on loan Brad Inman and Mathias Pogba both scored during a four-minute spell early in the second-half. Paul Huntington headed a late consolation shortly before the final whistle.
Manager Steve Davis opted on a change in formation with two wing-backs employed either side of three central defenders. Striker Lauri Dalla Valle was one of five changes after being ruled out with a foot injury while fellow loanee Chuks Aneke found himself named on the bench.
Skipper John Mousinho was wayward early on for the hosts and Lee Holmes also struck wide of the recalled Alan Martin’s goal. Byron Moore delivered a reply but Mark Ellis couldn’t seriously trouble home keeper Thorsten Stuckman. Former Alex striker Anthony Elding then tried a speculative chip before Moore was off-target at the other end.
Crewe went ahead as Inman supplied the pass and Murphy the required finish for his sixth goal of the season despite Stuckmann attempting to block. On loan Inman also shot wide as the visitors went into the break with a narrow lead.
That was soon to increase upon the restart. The roles were reversed when Murphy played in youngster Inman to make it 2-0 with the aid of an upright. Four minutes later Pogba reached double figures for the season when forcing in Moore’s cross at the far post.
Elding attempted to do likewise in reply but Martin stood up to the threat while his defence continued to block well. Mousinho also hoisted over as the hosts tried to find a way back into the contest, although it was much too late by the time Huntington headed in from a late corner.
Preston North End: Stuckmann, Huntington, Robertson, Cansdell-Sherriff, Kane (Amoo 57), Wroe (Byrom 62), Holmes, Monakana (Sodje 57), Welsh, Mousinho, Elding
subs (unused): Simonsen, Procter, King, Trundle
Goals: Huntington (89)
Crewe Alexandra: Martin, Davis, Ellis, Dugdale, Turton, Robertson, Murphy, Osman, Inman, Pogba, Moore (Aneke 87)
subs (unused): Garratt, Guthrie, Ray, Daniels, Colclough, M. Clayton
Goals: Murphy (32), Inman (49), Pogba (52)
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