On loan striker Lauri Dalla Valle’s first goal in six games was enough to earn Crewe Alexandra a narrow 1-0 victory against Carlisle United at Gresty Road.
The 21-year-old Fulham youngster headed in what proved the winner after visiting goalkeeper Mark Gillespie had already blocked from another loanee, Brad Inman, just before the break.
Crewe had enjoyed a bright start with Inman having a shot charged down and Mathias Pogba drilling over while Matt Robson sliced wide in reply. Carlisle keeper Gilliespie then had to block from the recalled Byron Moore from the edge of the area.
The Cumbrians themselves went close when Jon-Paul McGovern forced keeper Steve Phillips into action. Dalle Valle headed over at the other end but there was to be no mistake from the Finnish Under-21 international when looping another header over the keeper to open the scoring late in the first-half.
Experienced Crewe keeper Phillips was required to save again from Lee Miller following the interval and a Luke Murphy reply at a free-kick was too close to Gillespie before Pogba was wide from distance. But back came the visitors for Brad Potts to see another effort deflected behind and substitute Rory Loy to force another stop from Phillips.
Carlisle skipper Danny Livesey next failed to find the target when well-placed at a corner before Chris Chantler and Loy both tried long-range attempts that failed to seriously test Phillips.
Home substitute Ryan Colclough later headed over from another Murphy free-kick but it didn’t matter as the Alex successfully held onto their advantage and moved into the top ten in the division.
Crewe Alexandra: Phillips, Mellor, Davis, Ellis, Tootle, Murphy, Osman, Inman (Robertson 85), Moore, Pogba (Colclough 85), Dalla Valle (M. Clayton 76)
subs (unused): Martin, Dugdale, Aneke, Leitch-Smith
Goals: Dalla Valle (44)
Carlisle United: Gillespie, Simek, Robson, Livesey, Edwards, McGovern (Symington 89), Noble, Potts (Loy 70), Berrett, Chantler, Miller
subs (unused): Collin, Murphy, McGinty, Welsh, Beck
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