Colchester 1 Crewe Alexandra 2: Steve Davis praises players for battling performance
STEVE Davis praised his Crewe players for their battling performance after they ran out 2-1 winners at Colchester.
Goals from skipper Luke Murphy and Mathias Pogba in each half cancelled out George Porter's reply for the U's to give the Railwaymen victory at the Weston Homes Community Stadium.
Crewe's win helped them reach the 50-point mark in League One and, after two successive defeats, boss Davis admitted it was a relief to pick up a victory.
He said: "I'm delighted with the result – it was a hard-working, battling performance and it's earned us the three points.
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"Over the last couple of games we've struggled to find form and we need to get the results to get us over the line.
"We wanted to get to the 50-point mark that we set at the start of the season just to get us over that line.
"It was a relief to get the win, in a game of few chances.
"It was a battle and we knew that we had to come here and work hard and fight for everything. The lads did that.
"In the first half I thought that we dictated the play and dominated the game, in terms of our football.
"It forced them to change their shape to a 4-4-2 from 4-3-3 and they had a good spell just up to half-time.
"We got them in at half-time and sorted one or two things out and in the second half it became a little bit scrappy.
"There weren't too many chances, but we managed to convert ours.
"Colchester had been in good form lately, which meant it was a difficult place to come to."
Colchester remain three points above the relegation zone following their first defeat in four matches.
However, their manager Joe Dunne was not too downbeat and felt his side deserved to get more from the game.
Dunne said: "A few things went against us but generally, I'm pleased with what was a very good performance.
"We had a difficult 20 minutes in the first half and made changes.
"That brought us back into the game and I thought that we deserved something from it. I thought that there was only one team that was going to win the game in the second half.
"We forced the issue and had balls flashing across the box and missed open goals. We've also had a couple of penalty shouts ourselves and I can't ask too much more from my players.
"On another day, we could have scored five goals, but we didn't and we were beaten by a sucker punch.
"Crewe had one really good opportunity in the second half and they took it.
"That's football and it can be cruel sometimes; sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, but I thought we were great after the first 20 minutes.
"There's no-one in the stadium who can question our attitude and commitment and we should have won."
Crewe goalkeeper Steve Phillips denied Andy Bond before the visitors took the lead midway through the first half.
Murphy slotted in from the spot after referee Keith Hill ruled that U's substitute Josh Thompson had handled Gregor Robertson's cross in the area.
Max Clayton fired straight at Colchester goalkeeper Sam Walker, before the tactical introduction of substitute Michael Smith for midfielder David Wright got the U's back in the game.
Colchester improved and Gavin Massey and Billy Clifford went close, before Murphy nodded Magnus Okuonghae's header off the line.
Colchester eventually equalised three minutes before the break through on-loan Burnley winger Porter, who controlled well before slotting into the net for his first U's goal, following good play by Smith.
Phillips kept out Thompson's header in the opening stages of the second half and Smith scooped a first-time effort over from Porter's cross.
But Crewe grabbed their winner with 18 minutes to go through Pogba, who drove in from close range after Murphy had picked him out in the area.
Bond's drive flashed just wide for Colchester late on, but Crewe held on for victory.