David Artell says Crewe need to continue improving if they are to climb League One after the Railwaymen sealed a mid-table finish in their first season back at the third tier.
Veteran Chris Porter’s simple finish in the closing minutes secured victory after the Alex let a two-goal lead slip to Shrewsbury in the first half.
Boss Artell accused his players of “falling asleep” after Mikael Mandron’s double was cancelled out by efforts from Shaun Whalley and Daniel Udoh.
But he was pleased with an excellent campaign which has ended with Crewe finishing the highest of the four promoted clubs, while their 12th-placed finish is the highest the club has managed since relegation from the Championship in 2006.
“When we took over four-and-a-half years ago this club was hurtling towards non-league,” recalled Artell. “I remember speaking after a 4-0 defeat at Hartlepool about how we’d become milkman, myself included, as I’d have got the sack.
“It took us well over 12 months to get things in place and the following season we carried on that work. Now we’re a top-half League One team, at the minute – but we’ve got to be a top six League One team and nothing can stop us doing that other than resources.
“We work hard and we have to be a hard-working club. We’ve got to continue to improve and if we do then we’ve got a chance.”
It was anything but an end-of-season affair in the first half at Gresty Road as first Mandron took himself to the top of Crewe’s scoring charts with two fine strikes, smashing Charlie Kirk’s pass into the far corner and then volleying into the roof of the net after a clearance ricocheted into his path.
Shrewsbury, though, hit back with Whalley curling superbly into the far corner before Udoh grabbed a rare goal for Salop against his former club, driving past keeper Will Jaaskelainen after a neat interchange between Ollie Norburn and Whalley on the edge of the box.
Artell added: “I thought it was more to do with us than them and we were asleep for half an hour. We were better in the second half and Chris [Porter] was Johnny on the Spot for the winner – and that is another team we have done the double over.”
Matthew Pennington went close with a glancing set-piece header after the break for Salop. But Crewe won it when substitute Porter was left with a simple tap-in after Kirk’s shot was deflected onto the post by keeper Harry Burgoyne.
Shrewsbury have finished in 17th spot and assistant manager Aaron Wilbraham said: “We’re disappointed not to win the game and the third goal which was a scrappy goal to concede. We lost the game with the way we started in the first 30 minutes.
“We looked lethargic and it had a kind of end-of-season feel to it. The boys showed great character to come back into it and we were the stronger team in the second half when we had a couple of chances.
“it was a good finish by Shaun Whalley and he always looked a threat and Dan took his goal well.”
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