Richie Wellens praised the way his Leyton Orient players have battled through a difficult spell to retain top spot in Sky Bet League Two.
A mediocre run saw the O’s win just twice in nine games as they were hit by injuries to key players such as striker Paul Smyth and defender Dan Happe.
But goals in either half from on-loan Brighton youngster Ed Turns and Theo Archibald secured a second consecutive win for the leaders as they won for the first time in nine years at Crewe.
“One thing I’m proud of the players is the way we’ve carried that responsibility of being top of the league,” said boss Wellens. “We’ve been top from day dot and it’s easier for sides to chase you, but we have been excellent.
“It was a dry January for us but we were having to recruit centre-halves and we had to go through a difficult patch.
“When you consider Paul Smyth is one of the top players in this league; then you take him out of our team and yet we are still putting in performances like that.
“The new players have settled in now and are doing well. For example, Ed (Turns) is only 20 and this can be quite different from playing Under-23s football (at Brighton). I thought he was excellent and you could see his class.
“I was told we hadn’t won here for nine years and we were good in key areas – it was a well-deserved win, so I am really pleased.
“It was a really professional performance and we moved the ball around really well on a difficult pitch. We got lots of touches of the ball in their box.”
Turns drove in a low finish after 31 minutes for his first senior goal and Archibald sealed the points with a smart finish into the far corner.
Crewe have now won just once in their last nine games and their manager Lee Bell said: “We’ve got to start picking up points and the fans rightly want to see that.
“We’re not getting enough goals and we’ve got to keep working at that. We’ve got to find ways to make it better.
“It won’t be a case of us going to Crawley with fingers crossed on Saturday as we will be ready. I’ve let the players know that.
“There is a lot of frustration from the way we’ve played in the last two games, but they need to be ready and focused to execute what we want to do in the next game.
“We’ve got to stand up and be counted and put some performances in to get some results. But the results need to come before the performances at the moment so we need to put points on the board.”
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