Simon Grayson was left rueing the fine margins of winning and losing after seeing his side lose their first home league game since he took over in February.
Goals either side of half-time, against the run of play, for Steve Davis’ Railwaymen gave the visitors a 2-0 victory, ending an unbeaten stretch of 12 games.
Speaking to the press after the game, the manager felt that the first goal was always going to be crucial: “There are fine margins in football. We knew today that the first goal was going to be vitally important, because Crewe’s confidence could be quite fragile after conceding the goals that they have done.
“We started the game quite positively; the keeper made a great save early on and we hit the bar just after that and we really needed to get the first goal, but unfortunately they got the first goal.
“It was a dubious soft free kick to start with and then once they got the goal it gave them something to hold onto. We knew we’d be vulnerable to the counter attack as we pushed men forward and we got done with that for the second.
“I am disappointed to have lost at home for the first time in the league, but it’s a ten month season, not a two month season.
“You have to give them credit, because they defended their 18 yard box very well. They made blocks when we got balls in there; efforts went past the post and we didn’t work the goalkeeper enough. We missed that little bit of spark in the final third which you need when the opposition have ten players behind the ball and are trying to make it difficult for you.
“We have to learn from this experience; because plenty of teams are going to do that and try and make it difficult for us.”
The victim of much of the afternoon’s vitriol from the terraces was aimed at match official Trevor Kettle and the PNE bvoss felt that the case wasn’t allowed to flow, although he was keen to stress that he had no excuses for the loss.
“It was a stop start game, which the referee contributed to, but we are not looking for excuses, we just didn’t have that spark in the final third when we really needed it.
“On another day, if we’d got the first goal I think we’d have gone on to win the game, but you have to give Crewe a lot of credit for the way they defended and nullified our major players who can win games.”
Josh Brownhill retained his place in the squad and was rewarded with his league debut in the final 17 minutes and Grayson felt he deserved his opportunity:”I thought he did very well when he came on the other night. I see him in training and I just felt he could give us that youthful exuberance and energy to get on the ball and get forward and try and make something happen for us.
“I felt if we could get a goal back we could still get something out of the game.
“Kevin Davies had a great opportunity at 1-0, but it went wide and they went up the other end and scored and it’s those fine margins, but I thought there were positives in the way Josh played.”
The manager also explained the return of Chris Humphrey and Iain Hume and the absence of Joe Garner: “Chris, unfortunately had a bereavement in the family, so he got dispensation from the Jamaican FA to stay behind and be with his wife and Iain Hume asked the Canadian FA if he could come back up on the Friday to join with us and train and play before going back to join up with them for the game on Tuesday and we are grateful to them for their assistance. It was nice to have those two bodies available.
“Joe Garner was injured with a knee problem from the other night. He took a nasty whack on it against Oldham and there is a lot of swelling.
“He will go for a scan on Monday, as a precaution, but we don’t expect him to be out for too long.”