ROTHERHAM United made it three wins from three to remain top of League Two with the division’s only 100 per cent record.
However, they were really made to battle for the points particularly in an immensely testing second half but the Millers rose to the task magnificently as a defensive unit and it was their huge defiance under pressure which pulled them through.
Adam Le Fondre, in the first half, and a first goal for the club from sub Ben Pringle in the second, provided the goals before Crewe pulled one back with 15 minutes left but they couldn’t break Rotherham’s great resistance again.
Rotherham were unchanged whilst for the Rotherham connection in the Alex team it was a noteworthy occasion. Dave Artell, Rotherham-born and lifelong Millers fan, was making the 400th appearance of his career which, of course, included the Millers and a key role in their promotion season of 2000/01 to The Championship.
He can’t though, have lined up too often in a formation quite like Dario Gradi began with - Artell and Dugdale at the back, Martin man-marking Le Fondre, NO full backs (well, none that were apparent) and going for broke up front with four attackers.
Certainly the home side started well and twice could have scored inside the first five minutes. Firstly Bell sidefooted inches wide from a great chance set up by Leitch-Smith before Miller curled an effort just beyond the far post. It was an early warning or two that Rotherham would be tested but they produced the perfect answer by taking a 15th minute lead.
Grabban got to the byline, pulled the ball back and there was Le Fondre with a neat header back past the keeper’s left hand. At that precise moment, his marker was awol or, perhaps, it just happened that Alf had given him the slip!
There was almost a second goal five minutes later. Schofield’s low centre saw Martin divert the ball over his own bar with Le Fondre awaiting a tap-in behind him.The goal took some of the sting from Crewe but they are never far away from conjuring a moment of skill and threat and and Shelley slalomed brilliantly away from three before Logan palmed behind Bell’s effort.
Rotherham were so close on two occasions in first half stoppage time. A super effort on the turn by Le Fondre 25 yards out was arrowing into the top corner when Phillips flew across and touched it over.
The applause was still echoing when Schofield’s corner came in and Cresswell’s header was cleared off the line. The second half was a really testing one. Logan saved from Miller, Artell and Moore went close as Rotherham defended superbly. Then, in a rare threat, Schofield found Pringle and his low shot from 25 yards extended the lead on 73 monutes. However, on 70 minutes, Moore’s low, angled effort cut the deficit and Logan made a tremendous save from Miller as Rotherham put everything into defending their lead.
CREWE ALEXANDRA: Phillips, Westwood, Artell, Dugdale, C Martin, Bell, Murphy, Miller, Leitch-Smith (Clayton 77), Moore, Shelley (Powell 82). Subs: Davis, Hughes, A Martin.
ROTHERHAM UTD: Logan; Tonge, Raynes, Cresswell, Newey; Schofield, Harrison, Taylor (Marshall 85), Evans, Le Fondre, Grabban (Pringle 65). Subs: Brown, Holroyd, Warrington.
Referee: Paul Tierney (Lancs)
Goals: Rotherham: Le Fondre (15) Pringle (72). Crewe: Moore (79).