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League One

Steve Davis hails Crewe Alexandra survival

3 May 2014

Crewe Alexandra boss Steve Davis says his side's final-day escape following a 2-1 home win against Preston has made up for a season of struggle at Gresty Road.

The Railwaymen's form over a difficult campaign was hit by off-field problems and their Sky Bet League One status remained in doubt until they clinched their first home win in eight games by seeing off promotion-seeking Preston.

Goals from Adam Dugdale and Mathias Pogba in both halves proved sufficient to mean that Preston skipper John Welsh's stoppage-time effort was just a mere consolation.

As it was Crewe would have stayed up regardless after Tranmere fell to a late defeat at the hands of Bradford, but Davis was glad his side were in control of their own fate.

"It's a magnificent achievement and to do it ourselves and not rely on other teams was good," said the Cheshire side's manager.

"We were always playing catch-up after the start we had.

"The season has worn us down and we have had to keep ourselves going.

"We've taken a lot of criticism and I've taken a lot of stick from the fans this season and rightly so because the performances haven't been good enough.

"But I felt that staying up this year would be a bigger achievement than the success we've had in the last couple of years.

"In terms of retaining our status in this league is way above winning the cup and promotion."

After Matt Tootle's shot was turned around by Scott Laird, Crewe made the resulting corner count to take a morale-boosting ninth-minute lead. Dugdale rose highest to power Jon Guthrie's flag kick into the top corner of the net.

Crewe gave their survival battle another shot in the arm on the hour-mark thanks to the hard work of Ikpeazu.

The striker put Laird under pressure on the by-line and pulled the ball back for Pogba to side-foot a second.

"We had a game-plan and we got the early goal from the set play. It is the second time we've done that particular routine," added Davis.

"We scored at Shrewsbury with it and it worked again. It gave us that one-goal cushion and something to defend. It was very important that we got the first goal.

"It could have been a bit more and I didn't think they really hurt us. They had a lot of long shots and we thoroughly deserved it."

Welsh reduced the arrears with a snapshot from the edge of the box in stoppage time, but North End slipped to fifth and must now bounce back for their play-off semi-final first leg against Rotherham at Deepdale next Saturday.

Boss Simon Grayson said: "We're disappointed that we lost, but it won't affect the confidence and belief that we've got.

"Credit to Crewe who were fighting for their lives.

"Rotherham is going to be tough for us as they go from back to front very quickly.

"But we know what to expect and we've played them twice this season. It'll be a high pressure game and I will be expecting a reaction from everyone and I am sure I will get one.

"We're disappointed we've lost, but it won't dent our confidence for the games against Rotherham."

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