Crewe Alexandra: Steve Davis praises 'best away performance' after Preston win
CREWE boss Steve Davis marked signing his new contract in fine style – but he insists there is plenty more to come from his young side.
A late Preston goal for Paul Huntington was nothing more than a consolation as efforts from Luke Murphy, Brad Inman and Mathias Pogba had already put the game beyond the hosts' reach.
All this came just 24 hours after Davis had put pen to paper on a new 18-month rolling contract.
This was a fine way to celebrate, but Davis believes the good times will continue to roll at Crewe for some time yet.
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"That's probably our best away performance," he said.
"The way we played, the system – you know Crewe aren't accustomed to playing three centre-halves and one in front of them, so it was difficult for the players.
"I wanted to try to catch Preston out with a different system and we caused them problems because of that.
"We produced some good combination and link-up play with each other.
"It worked, but don't get carried away, it's not going to work every day. The players have to work and adapt to different systems and that's what they've done here.
"Every one of them stood up to be counted. You know it's going to be a physical game coming here, but we coped."
But Davis warned that despite their impressive showing, there would be plenty of challenges ahead for his side.
"We remained level-headed and we played like we've been playing for ages. That's a really good sign – that young players are playing like experienced men," he added.
"We've got a young team who have performed very well here. I'm very proud of every one of them. Everyone was excellent.
"I think there's a lot more improvement in this team too. It's a young team. Everyone's working very, very hard.
"Even the ones who aren't in the team are dying to get on. The players that are in the team are having to put in good performances because of that.
"It's a great situation, but you don't know what's around the corner. I'll keep a level head, I enjoyed today and I'm proud of the players."
After John Mousinho, Lee Holmes and Anthony Elding all went close for the home side, Murphy put Crewe in front against the run of play.
He finished low under the body of Thorsten Stuckmann when Byron Moore's pass found him unmarked in the area in the 32nd minute.
Four minutes after half-time Crewe doubled their lead through Inman, the on-loan Newcastle player slotting in off the post for his first senior goal.
Just three minutes later Pogba's 10th goal of the season put the game beyond doubt as he met Moore's cross and finished at the second attempt after Stuckmann saved his first effort.
Huntington headed home a minute from time, but it wasn't enough to prevent Preston extending their winless run at home in the league to six games.
Preston boss Graham Westley insists they have no-one to blame for their poor run but themselves.
"We got ourselves to a decent level of form and performance and you know the wheels have come off the wagon," he said.
"The ingredients required to win football matches haven't been shown in the team and they weren't shown again here.
"We haven't got the team functioning and performing and there's problem-solving to do to recover the ground we've lost in this rocky period.
"The things that we talked about correcting at half-time, still needed correcting because they were the root cause of the two goals in the second half.
"It was a big shock. We lost our way. We conceded the two goals and we didn't get going.
"We didn't underestimate them in any shape or form. We knew they'd bring a good team here and we knew we'd have to play well to win.
"When you've built a team that's playing in a certain way and with certain ingredients in there and you try and replace it one way or another and you don't quite get it right, you've got to go back to your recipe book."