Preston North End suffered their third defeat in as many matches as Crewe Alexandra secured their first win in seven games.
PNE failed to capitalize on their blistering start to the game, setting the tone for a frustrating afternoon for the home side.
A splendid strike inside 10 minutes from Scott Laird was saved by Steve Phillips whilst Ian Hume also hit the crossbar early on.
Hume, who was making his first start since returning from International duty continued to threat Crewe’s goal. The PNE attacker picking the ball up from the Crewe half before releasing a through ball into Stuart Beavon.His pacey effort strriking the goalkeeper before pulling the rebound wide.
Gradually, however, the away found their feet and took the lead just after 27 minutes. Academy product Byron Moore danced his way past several white shirts before toe poking his shot into Declan Rudd’s left hand corner.
Crewe’s first goal in three games gave them confidence to push on. Ollie Turton finding himself space to shoot on the edge of the box but his effort sailed helplessly wide.
Preston’s Joel Byrom threatened to equalise but his shot looked more like a cross as the ball rolled across Phillip’s goal and out for a goal-kick.
A rousing reception from The Lillywite supporters signified a decent first-half performance from Simon Grayson’s side, who pretty much did everything right but score.
PNE came out the traps second-half in exactly the same fashion as they started the first. A whipped in cross from Laird found substitute Bailey Wright but his header travelled wide.
The North End continued in their attempts to crack the brick wall that The Alex was forming as they built on their lead. Great work from Byrom from the left flank gifted Davies with arguably PNE’s best opportunity of the match, but the former Bolton striker’s header flashed agonizingly wide.
Whilst Preston failed to take any of their chances, Crewe were making good use of theirs. A right-footed beauty from Bradman Inman outside of the area flew into the top corner to send Steve Davies’s side two goals to the good.
Crewe’s Jon Guthrie very nearly made it three when his shot, in almost the same place as Bradman’s rattled the crossbar moments after.
With 15 minutes to go, the home side began to throw the kitchen sink at The Railwaymen, but a ‘backs-to-the-wall’ job frustrated PNE further. Laird going close inside the penalty box, but the Crewe defence did just about enough to ensure Laird lost his balance as he sent his shot wide before falling to the deck.
A resistant effort from Crewe included a terrible habit of time-wasting. Midfielder Inman finally tested the Referees patience as his effort to stop Preston’s momentum saw his name in the book.
North End’s Laird nearly gave the Deepdale outfit a lifeline in spectacular fashion. A loose corner fell to the full-back who hit a 30 yard volley inches outside Phillip’s’ right-hand post.
A headed flick on from Paul Huntingdon glided past the goal mouth to cap off an infuriating afternoon for Simon Grayson’s men, who endured their first league home defeat since the Preston manager took up the hot seat seven months ago.