Saddlers snatch late point
A late own goal helped relegation-threatened Crewe to a 1-1 draw against Walsall at the Banks's Stadium on Tuesday night.
Three points would have been a terrific boost to Alex's hopes of avoiding the drop, but their overall play suggested they have enough about them to climb to safety.
The visitors looked the more comfortable side in the first half without causing the home defence too many problems.
When the pressure was on they quickly pulled men back and Walsall could not find a way past central defenders Harry Davis and Mark Ellis, who were excellent.
Tiny winger Febian Brandy, back at the club on loan from Sheffield United, was the home side's most dangerous raider and in the fifth minute Davis did well to clear his low cross into the box.
As Crewe began to settle, Anthony Grant was brought down by James Chambers in a determined run through the middle, but Cameron Park wasted the opportunity by lifting the free-kick into the crowd behind the goal.
In the 20th minute the visitors had the Saddlers in trouble with a quick break, Chucks Aneke found Bradden Inman whose cross found Mathias Pogba just inside the box but he could not shake off Andy Butler and he managed to clear under pressure.
Four minutes later Park saw his shot blocked before Grant was booked for a foul on the livewire Brandy who was easily Walsall's most effective player.
After 25 minutes Craig Westcarr had a shot blocked when a mis-hit effort from Brandy landed at his feet, but the Saddlers were showing a distinct lack of confidence when they reached the final third of the pitch - no doubt caused by their recent poor record.
In fact Walsall's best chance, from which they should have gone in front, came immediately afterwards but unmarked skipper Butler headed inches over after Andy Taylor swept over a perfect cross following a short corner by Westcarr.
Five minutes later Inman became the second Crewe player to receive a yellow card for a foul on Ben Purkiss, but two minutes from half-time Aneke at last tested Richard O'Donnell with a low shot from 20 yards.
Walsall sent on Chelsea loanee Milan Lalkovic at the start of the second half in an effort to liven things up, but it was Brandy who caused the first problem for Alex with a run and cross to Westcarr. But he lifted his shot well over the crossbar.
Crewe took the lead in the 51st minute following a low cross into the goalmouth by Matt Tootle and Aneke coolly slotted home for his 15th goal of the season, much to the delight of the 377 visiting fans.
That prompted Walsall boss Dean Smith to send on big strikere Michael Ngoo, on loan from Liverpool, and he quickly created a decent shooting chance - which he sent wide.
Walsall's poor run of results has made them look more like a relegation side than one hoping to make the play-offs, and Crewe seemed far more comfortable on the ball in attack and defence.
But the Saddlers grabbed a rather fortunate equaliser in injury time when Ellis had the misfortune to turn the ball past his own goalkeeper under pressure from Ngoo as Lalkovic whipped over a dangerous cross into the goalmouth.
The home side almost grabbed a dramatic winner when a Lalkovic pile-driver was turned onto the bar by Garratt.