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League One

Steve Davis forgives glaring Matt Tootle miss

26 April 2014

Crewe boss Steve Davis is backing defender Matt Tootle to bounce back from the glaring late miss that might have banished his side's relegation fears after a goalless draw at Bristol City.

While satisfied with a draw that kept his side one point above the relegation zone, Davis admitted it could have been so much better.

Tenacious work by Crewe striker Mathias Pogba in the 86th minute saw the ball break to right-back Tootle unmarked eight yards out to the right of goal.

With Davis and everyone else in the ground expecting the net to bulge, the Crewe skipper snatched at his shot and sent it well wide.

His reaction was to pull his shirt up to hide his face.

"Matt was still absolutely gutted after the game," said Davis.

"Unfortunately the chance fell to the wrong player. But Matt will recover because he has grown as a person over the past 12 months, which is why he became skipper.

"You could feel everyone in the crowd draw breath when the ball fell to him. The City fans behind the goal expected it to be the winner, but it wasn't to be.

"Three points would have been fantastic, but one keeps our destiny in our own hands going into our final game at home to Preston.

"We are due a home win after going four unbeaten on the road. It wlll be a day for trying to stay calm, but I think this game showed we can handle the pressure.

"Despite our situation, we played some very good football and created most of the chances against a team with some quality players.

"In the last three or four months we have pulled our season around and now we have to finish the job.

"Perhaps there was a lack of confidence in front of goal and a tendency to pass when we could have shot, but overall I was delighted with the players."

The strong-running Pogba had the best first-half chances, only managing an air-shot after six minutes when well placed to score.

The striker also headed wide after 28 minutes and had a shot on the turn blocked on the goal-line by Marlon Pack in a crowded goalmouth.

With only pride to play for City were below par, although substitute Martin Paterson might have done better when shooting wide from Wade Elliott's 76th-minute pass.

Their best first-half effort was a close-range back-heel from Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, which struck a defender.

Crewe remained the more threatening side after the break, but rarely tested home goalkeeper Simon Moore.

Jon Guthrie's tame 57th-minute free-kick from 20 yards was straight at Moore, while Anthony Grant sent a low drive wide from distance.

After Tootle's miss Wade Elliott fired narrowly wide for the hosts, but the least Crewe deserved was a clean sheet as it was a quiet afternoon for their goalkeeper Ben Garratt.

That was thanks to some strong defending from centre-backs Mark Ellis and Adam Dugdale plus the competitiveness of a three-man midfield.

Home boss Steve Cotterill paid tribute to Crewe's defensive qualities, which ensured that the dangerous strike-force of Emmanuel-Thomas and Sam Baldcok had few clear sights of goal.

Cotterill said: "We passed the ball for fun, but without any penetration and you have to give Crewe credit for that.

"They have come here fighting for their lives and still made it a real football match.

"It was a bit of an anti-climax as far as we were concerned.

"If I am honest I have been expecting that sort of performance, with only pride to play for, and I'm glad we kept it until the penultimate game.

"Our crowd were fantastic, as they have been since I arrived.

"It has been a season of pressure and strain for the players and to reach 12th place in the table from where we were when I took over has been a fantastic effort by everyone connected with the club.

"We have a lot to build on for next season and I will be looking for one more performance at Crawley next Saturday.

"Then the lads will have earned their break."

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