Crewe boss David Artell was proud of his side claiming a fourth consecutive win despite the heroics of Crawley goalkeeper Glenn Morris.
Chris Porter’s 89th-minute header grabbed the Railwaymen a 2-1 victory after the striker’s second-half penalty was cancelled out late on by another spot-kick from Town substitute Nathan Ferguson.
Despite camping in the visiting half for much of the game, Crewe were denied by a string of fine stops from Morris.
“They have got a keeper that has saved the most shots in the league and you can see why,” said Artell. “But if it had been a boxing match it would have been stopped at half-time.
“I thought the goals were coming and we were the better team all over the pitch.”
While Artell was pleased with the performance of his team, neither he nor Crawley counterpart John Yems had any praise for young referee Anthony Coggins.
“They came to kick lumps out of us,” added Artell. “It was embarrassing what they got away with. A tackle on Perry Ng in the first half was a straight red card.
“Two seasons ago that would have been a tough game for us but the lads have grown into fantastic young men who can take the hard knocks, smile at them and show their football is good enough to beat them.”
Yems – whose side were losing their first game in five – said: “We haven’t done ourselves justice tonight and we had a great chance to come here and make a statement for ourselves.
“But I thought that was the worst refereeing I’ve seen. He was a 23-year-old referee and he was terrible.
“Fair play to Crewe as they’re a good side and they were the better side. We’re not good enough to come here and outplay them but we if we play like that again we’ll get beat again. You have to try and match these sides and we did that but not in the way we have been doing before.
“Too many people are believing we are a lot better than we are. We have improved but we have to keep pushing on.”