Late goal costs the Alex
Crewe Alexandra suffered more late heartbreak at Gresty Road as Peterborough scored a stoppage time equaliser to deny the Alex an excellent win.
The Alex were 2-0 ahead after just 21 minutes as Vadaine Olvier and Ajay Leitch-Smith both marked their return to the side with goals. But after Tyrone Barnett halved the deficit, Michael Bostwick struck in the 92nd minute to deny the Alex.
Boss Steve Davis made three changes for the game. Lee Molyneux was handed his first start in an Alex shirt, while there were recalls for Leitch-Smith and Oliver. Anthony Grant and Max Clayton dropped to the bench, while Ryan Colclough was ruled out with a hip injury.
The changes saw Brad Inman switch to the right and Molyneux operate from the left with Chuks Aneke adopting a deeper role alongside Abdul Osman. Leitch-Smith partnered Oliver in attack.
It was the visitors that made the better start to the game, enjoying plenty of early possession. After eight minutes they had their first real chance as former Cheltenham midfielder Grant McCann curled an effort just wide of Steve Phillips in the Alex goal.
Moments later it was Lee Tomlin who made a run from deep that eluded that Crewe backline, thankfully for the Alex he dragged his effort wide.
But against the run of play it was the Alex who took the lead. Good work from Inman down the right saw him get in behind the Posh defence. Inman showed great composure to pick out Oliver who slid in to score his first goal for the club.
Crewe received a let-off minutes later as a long ball in to the box caused confusion in the Alex defence. Mark Ellis got his head to the ball but was couldn't clear and Barnett headed the free ball against the post. It was a let-off for Crewe who had to defend the resulting corner without Ellis who suffered a heavy blow in the confusion.
But once again Crewe showed that they could cause the Posh defence problems as they went 2-0 ahead. Oliver won the ball in the Alex half and found Molyneux who picked a lovely 50-yard pass for Leitch-Smith. In on goal the Alex academy graduate kept his composure to score his first goal since February.
2-0 ahead, the Alex wanted to keep calm, but a dubious free-kick decision allowed Tomlin another chance to test Phillips, but the Bristolian was up to the best as he confidently palmed away the effort on goal.
After a stoppage in play for an injury to Matt Tootle, United continue to press with McCann blazing an effort over the Alex bar.
Just when it looked as if the Alex would survive to the break. Mark Ellis could only clear a long ball in to the Alex box as far Mark Little. The Posh right-back had his powerful effort saved but the ball broke to Barnett who halved the deficit. Seconds later the referee blew for half-time.
After a quiet start to the second-half, Matt Tootle and Ellis needed to be alert to deny Barnett getting a shot on goal. With the visitors struggling to show the attacking threat that they did in the first period, Nathaniel Mendez-Laing replaced Danny Swanson.
Moments after the change it was the impressive Barnett who forced Steve Phillips in a top class save. Barnett met a dangerous cross powerfully but Phillips made acrobatic save to keep the Alex ahead.
The Alex were then handed a blow as Matt Tootle was forced off with an injury. Tootle was replaced by Kelvin Mellor for the Alex.
Crewe were still struggling to have an impact as an attacking threat on the game, but Molyneux did force a smart stop from Bobby Olejnik in the United goal with a dangerous free-kick. That was Molyneux's last contribution as he was replaced by Byron Moore.
Moore had a shot well blocked moments after entering the game, as did Aneke as the Railwaymen enjoyed their first period of sustained pressure in the second-half. Vadaine Oliver was then replaced by Anthony Grant.
As the game entered the final 10 minutes, Tomlin should have levelled for Posh. The ball broke for him in the box, but under pressure he fired high and wide.
As the game entered four added minutes, Phillips tipped a Tomlin effort round the post but from the resulting corner there was heartbreak for the Alex as Bostwick nipped in at the front post to level the game.
That was the way it ended on a disappointing afternoon for the Alex as they conceded late in each half. But the Alex can take real positives from the way they performed against a much fancied side in League One.