Crewe Alexandra: Boss Steve Davis happy to end five-game winless streak against Hartlepool United
ALEX boss Steve Davis was happy with the result, but not the performance as the Railwaymen put a stop to their five-game winless streak with a hard-fought comeback against Hartlepool United.
Mark Ellis netted his first goal for the club to seal the points for Crewe after Chuks Aneke had cancelled out Evan Horwood's early opener.
But things could have been easier for the Railwaymen had Mathias Pogba not ignored his manager's orders to let Harry Davis take a first-half penalty – which the striker went on to balloon into the stands.
The Alex boss fumed: "I wanted Harry to take the penalty because his record is much better and I had only seen Pogba put all his penalties in training over the bar.
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"But Luke Murphy said it was okay and Pogba was going to take it. When he missed it I couldn't wait to get in at half-time to tell him what I thought about it.
"I've learned a lot from it and that won't happen again. I'm the one who makes the big decisions and that was a big decision.
"The performance wasn't great, but after losing back-to-back games the important thing was to get a result.
"We were much better than our last game. Our fluency was better and we created one or two opportunities, even though we didn't make the best decisions when we got those chances.
"The players had to work hard to get back in the game and towards the end we were tired and hanging on a bit."
United boss Neale Cooper must have thought his plans had suffered an early setback when Andy Monkhouse hobbled off to be replaced by Horwood after just eight minutes.
But the substitute wasted no time in making his mark, grabbing his first goal of the season with his first touch of the match only 60 seconds after coming on.
Jonathan Franks swung in a cross, Antony Sweeney nodded it down and the Alex rearguard went missing to allow Horwood all the time in the world to lift the ball over Alan Martin.
The Alex crafted a series of chances in an attempt to find their way back into the match. Max Clayton hit the side-netting from a wide angle, Andy Bond's long-range effort was easily gathered by Scott Flinders and Pogba nearly found the net when his shot took a fiendish deflection off Darren Holden.
Aneke found Matt Tootle with a defence-splitting pass but the full-back lifted his shot over the bar. Tootle then combined well with Clayton before drawing a fine close-range save from Flinders.
Crewe were handed their controversial lifeline four minutes before the break when Ajay Leitch-Smith plucked Murphy's ball out of the air and fired off a shot which was blocked by the hands of Peter Hartley.
Referee Jeremy Simpson didn't hesitate to point to the spot before showing the United skipper a yellow card. Unfortunately Pogba couldn't match the official's conviction and blasted a woeful spot-kick high into the stand.
Luckily for Pogba, Aneke netted the equaliser on the stroke of half-time, curling an unstoppable first-time shot into the top corner from the edge of the box.
The visitors could have been out of sight after the break. Holden broke free down the left flank and cut the ball back to the unmarked Noble 10 yards out, but Martin raced from his line to deflect his shot to safety.
A minute later Noble had his head in his hands again when Tootle bust a gut to clear another effort from the striker off the line. At the other end Leitch-Smith's low drive was parried by Flinders and Ryan Austin cleared before Pogba could tuck away the loose ball.
But the Alex went ahead when Murphy's 70th-minute free-kick evaded everyone apart from Ellis who touched the ball home at the far post.
Austin almost grabbed United a deserved share of the spoils, but his looping shot came back off the crossbar.
Cooper said: "It's another frustrating day and I really feel for the players.
"The last two games have been the best we have played for a long time.
"We have created numerous chances which is a positive, but we are devastated in the changing room to have lost after playing like that.
"We had a bit of luck with them missing the penalty, but it was justice as never in my life would I have given a penalty for that.
"When you are down things just tend to kick you in the teeth. We have played well and lost, but I'd rather be bad and win.
"If we keep playing and creating chances like we have then it is only a matter of time until we start winning."