Crewe Alexandra: Dalla Valle future uncertain despite match-winning performance
LAURI Dalla Valle signed off in style by netting the winner in his last home game for the Alex before returning to Fulham.
The flying Finn scored his fifth goal of his loan spell to keep the Railwaymen in touch with the League One play-off places.
However, manager Steve Davis admitted he is still to decide whether to extend the 21-year-old's stay at Gresty Road.
He said: "Lauri is a player who can pop up with a goal out of nothing. He's done well for us. He works very hard and he is a poacher.
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"He's got one more game with us and then we will have to assess the situation with Fulham.
"We haven't decided what to do with him yet, but we are grateful for how hard he has worked for us.
"There are no easy games in this division. Everyone is fighting and you have to really work hard for your points.
"We passed the ball well without being a big threat, but Lauri came up with the goal and we were the better team.
"We are delighted with how the first half of the season has gone, but we have to keep picking up points.
"We keep setting the lads high standards and hopefully as a club we can reach them."
The Railwaymen haven't lost at home in the league since October, but thing could have been very different if it wasn't for two individual errors from United skipper Danny Livesey.
The defender's poor back pass lead to Dalla Valle's opener and then he blew United's best chance of a leveller by blasting over the Crewe goal from eight yards out.
Crewe dominated the opening 45 minutes, but the visitors had the first sight of goal which was dragged woefully wide by Matty Robson.
United's pressing game made it difficult for the Railwaymen to carve out any clear-cut chances, and it took 10 minutes for the home side to have their first shot, which Luke Murphy screwed high and wide after Mathias Pogba teed him up.
Pogba then cut inside and unleashed a shot himself which curled over the United crossbar, while Byron Moore's snapshot was the first to trouble Mark Gillespie, who did well to palm the ball to safety.
United almost snatched the lead when Lee Miller dummied a cross into the path of Jon Paul McGovern, who hit his first-time effort straight at Crewe keeper Steve Phillips.
But the Alex finally made the breakthrough two minutes before half-time.
Livesey fluffed his headed back pass and Gillespie blocked Bradden Inman's shot only to watch helplessly as Dalla Valle headed the rebound over him and into the net.
United almost pulled level after the break, but Phillips produced a superb one-handed stop to keep out Miller's goalbound header.
Matt Tootle then cleared off the Crewe line following a goalmouth scramble and Livesey ballooned the rebound over from eight yards out with the goal gaping.
Pogba went close with a long-range effort after being played in by Inman, while substitute Max Clayton had a chance to put the game beyond doubt but he placed his shot well wide of the upright.
United boss Gregg Abbott said: "It's individual errors from Danny at both ends that have cost us.
"He's the most honest man in the world and he knows he has made the mistakes, but we are going to get known as great losers if we are not careful.
"There's nothing wrong with the game, the team or the performance, but silly errors mean the best team lost.
"I'm upset and angry as we deserved something from this game. The team's not far away now, but we've given six points away over Christmas.
"It's a fine line between being a good side or a side that finds life difficult."