Posted: 20.02.21 at 16:09 by The Editor
CREWE paid the price for an afternoon of profligacy in front of goal as they were felled by a sucker punch deep into stoppage time.
Sub Scott Twine sunk a late rebound effort to clinch victory for relegation-threatened Swindon who were helped back into the game by a bizarre first-half own goal by youngster Travis Johnson after Tommy Lowery fired Crewe ahead early on.
Dave Artell labelled the defeat at the County Ground as Crewe's "worst result of the season". It was a game that really should have been put to bed long before the Robins mounted their best attacking move to secure a late reward.
"I would have been really disappointed with a draw, never mind to lose, but we only have ourselves to blame really. The performance was okay apart from the goals, but if you don’t score goals then you leave yourself wide open to a poor result.
"We were so on top. The defeats hurt, it is a bitter pill to swallow," said the Crewe boss who still insisted: "The play-offs are not beyond us, but we have to be more clinical in both boxes."
Swindon were fortunate to turn around on level terms as they struggled to cope with the considerable presence of Mikael Mandron. The tall Frenchman's enthusiastic running in behind exposed a shaky rearguard, but sadly his finishing left a lot to be desired.
Mandron was the provider for Crewe's fifth opener, skipping clear onto a ball over the top and pulling the ball back for Lowery to apply a simple finish (5).
The striker was denied by a super save from Robins loan debutant Joe Wollacott who kept out a thumping downward header from a delicious cross from Charlie Kirk.
Back on the left flank as one of four Crewe changes, Kirk was a constant threat.
At the back Middlesbrough loanee Nathan Wood made his first appearance and Johnson came in on the right for the injured Billy Jones.
Mandron was agonising over another finish when he scooped Luke Murphy's lofted ball onto the roof of the net.
But by then Swindon were back on terms after Johnson, under no pressure, found the corner of his own net as he applied his head to Dion Conroy's delivery (10)
Crewe needed to be on the alert after the restart as veteran striker Brett Pitman tuned on his goal radar. The 33-year-old nudged in front of Omar Beckles to sweep Jack Payne's cross just past the far post and was thwarted at close range by a good stop from Dave Richards.
Mandron, though, was guilty of a dreadful miss when slicing his volley wildly over after he did the hard bit latching onto a lofted pass from Murphy.
But he went close to applying a far-post finish to Kirk's cross and it seemed only a matter of time before Crewe would make the decisive breakthrough. Wollacott clawed away a chip from the Kirk and then pushed out a Mandron effort as Swindon lived dangerously in the closing minutes.
Yet they managed to deliver a low blow when Pitman hooked the ball into the path of sub Hallam Hope, whose effort was parried by Richards only for Twine (90+4) to polish off the rebound.
The victory moved Swindon out of the bottom four, but their assistant manager Tommy Wright admitted: "I think everybody saw that Crewe were the better team. The important thing for us is to keep going, stay in matches and keep believing and we got the winning goal.
"When you are fighting relegation you’ve just got to dig in and hang in there even when you’re not the best team.”