Crewe manager David Artell was left to rue a “shocking” first half as his side were beaten 2-0 at Grimsby on the final day of the season.
Harry Davis – against his former club – and Joe Grayson were on target as the Mariners signed off with victory at Blundell Park.
As they sought a way back into the League Two clash, Crewe found home goalkeeper James McKeown in unbeatable form.
Artell said: “The first half cost us the three points, and in the second half their goalkeeper won them the match.
“It was a game of two halves. We were shocking first half. We didn’t run around enough and we didn’t make it hard enough for them. A couple of mistakes cost us goals.
“In the second half, how we have not scored I don’t know. That summed up our away performances this year. First half was before Christmas and second half was after Christmas.
“Second half we were fine and we deserved to certainly score a goal, if not a couple of goals.
“Their goalkeeper had a great game and quite rightly got man of the match. But you can’t expect to only play for 45 minutes and get anything from the game.”
In testing conditions, chances were at a premium during the opening stages.
Charlie Kirk struck over on the counter, while Charles Vernam and Reece Hall-Johnson both went close in quick succession at the other end.
Davis then put Grimsby ahead with a close-range finish against his former club, and the home side quickly doubled their lead when Grayson picked his spot from the edge of the area.
McKeown then produced several stunning saves in the second half as the Mariners recorded their second straight home victory.
Grimsby boss Michael Jolley felt his side got their just rewards.
He said: “I think it was a win that we deserved. I think we played well in the first half. You can see that the wind had a big impact on the game.
“Clearly, whoever was defending that side of the pitch was going to find it difficult to get out.
“It was Crewe in the first half and I think we pressed them quite well. We produced some good opportunities and scored two good goals.
“In the second half it was more difficult because of the wind, but overall I think we deserved to win the game.
“I’m not sure James (McKeown) kept us in it, but he certainly made some good saves. It was another fabulous performance from James. I think he played really well.
“We wanted to improve on last season’s points tally, which we have done, and we wanted to build the nucleus of a group that can take us forward, which we have done.”