Crewe manager David Artell bemoaned his young team’s defensive naivety as a series of errors presented in-form Portsmouth with a 4-1 victory.
Two defensive errors gifted Ronan Curtis a first-half double, before second-half strikes from captain Tom Naylor and top scorer John Marquis sealed Pompey’s win.
Artell said: “If you give any team a two-goal start, as we did, then it’s going to be a tough afternoon.
“I thought there wasn’t anything in the game in the first half, apart from us gifting them two goals. If anybody looked promising in the first half it was us. But goals change games, it’s as simple as that.
“You give them stuff at half-time and you come out and four minutes later it’s 3-0 and it’s game over at that point. It was self-inflicted.
“We’ve said if we’re going to concede goals I’d rather concede goals by trying to play football. But rolling the ball to the opposition twice is beyond that limit.”
Not surprisingly, Artell’s opposite number Kenny Jackett was in a far more upbeat mood after seeing his side climb up to fourth in the Sky Bet League One table.
Jackett said: “We did very well today. It was cat and mouse on the ball because we did think if we won the ball back in the right areas there was space to exploit.
“And, ultimately, that was the thing – right the way through the side – that got us the three points.
“With the players we have playing and the likes of Ryan Williams and Michael Jacobs, we have some potential at the front part of the side.
“If we can keep using it, capitalising on it and getting players in the right areas, when we created chances we took them.”
It was hard to argue with Artell’s assessment. Between the first-half goals, Crewe created the better opportunities and Portsmouth’s Craig MacGillivray was the busier of the two goalkeepers.
But Curtis scuffed the hosts in front 15 minutes in after a mix-up over a Crewe free-kick allowed Ellis Harrison to steal possession.
Five minutes before the break, centre-back Omar Beckles was caught in possession by Curtis, who bundled home his second.
Two goals in the first 11 minutes of the second half sealed the visitors’ fate.
On 50 minutes, Naylor drove in from 20 yards out after fending off a weak challenge, and then, six minutes later, Marquis fired against the bar and headed home the rebound after Curtis’ initial effort was saved.
Crewe got the consolation goal their play deserved in the last minute of stoppage time when Oli Finney fired in a penalty after Lee Brown had handled.