Crewe boss Dave Artell admitted his side got what they deserved for a below-par performance after their 10-game unbeaten run was ended by a 4-1 defeat to Gillingham.
Steve Evans’ men took the lead at Priestfield through a Jordan Graham penalty after 11 minutes and they never looked back.
A brace from Hearts loanee Olly Lee and Kyle Dempsey’s clever finish following a free-flowing move ensured there was no way back for Crewe, who grabbed consolation through Chris Porter.
“I think the defeat was justified,” said Artell. “They deserved to win, I’ve got no complaints. Too many had substandard, below-par games and that’s what you get.
“When you come to Gillingham you know that they’re going to be in your face and we gave them three very, very soft goals. You definitely can’t do that here.
“There are lessons to be learned, especially as it ends our unbeaten run, which is disappointing. If you give Gillingham any hope and help them along the way they’ll take advantage of it.
“That’s not me being judgemental – that’s what they are. We knew what we were going to face. To hand them the initiative like we did was poor. That first half has cost us the game.
“I think some of the players found it hard. But you’ve got to stick in there. You can’t go into the break at 3-0 as it’s game over. If it’s 2-0 you’ve got a chance provided you score first in the second half.
“We didn’t learn from the first mistake in the first half tonight and that cost us. The players didn’t work it out. I don’t think they felt sorry for themselves but they’ve got to be better.”
Meanwhile, Gillingham assistant manager Paul Raynor was delighted with the hosts’ display.
“That was a great all-round performance,” he said. “It was fantastic, particularly the intensity and the way we turned the ball over against a very good passing team.
“They passed us off the park at their place this season so we told the boys to press a lot higher. The way we did that was absolutely fantastic.
“Sometimes you can put plans in place and guys don’t understand them or don’t quite realise what you want them to do. But we forced a good team into mistakes in key areas.
“That was really fantastic to see – we were brave. We went after them early and we were clinical.
“(Olly Lee) is technically gifted – one of most gifted in the squad. He got his reward tonight. We knew what Olly would bring us which is why we were desperate to make that move happen.
“He brings calmness among the hustle and bustle. That was crucial tonight.”