Crewe Alexandra Under 23's fell to a 2-0 defeat to Sheffield United at Reaseheath, despite dominating the second half with just ten men.
Brad Walker was dismissed early in the second period for an alleged stamp on a Blades player, after the visitors had already taken a commanding position with two first half goals.
Regan Slater struck the opener with just eight minutes on the clock, collecting Harry Gilmore's neat pass after a rampaging run and cross from Tyler Smith down the right.
Crewe almost scored a freak equaliser, when good closing down by Oli Finney saw goalkeeper Marcus Dewhurst shank his clearance off the Alex man, but the ball cannoned inches wide.
The lively Smith went close on 16 minutes, arrowing a left footed effort just wide of the post, but he did grab his goal to make it 2-0 on 35 minutes. Crewe lost possession on the right-hand-side, and a quick ball inside split the two centre halves and gave the Blades striker acres of space to steady himself and fire into the top corner.
After a stern talking to at half-time, Crewe came out with great purpose in the second period and dominated proceedings, despite Walker's 52nd minute dismissal.
Lewis Reilly planted a header over the top and curled a free-kick over too, whilst Dewhurst made a superb save to deny Josh Lundstram one-on-one inside the final five minutes.
Crewe pressed and probed for much of the second 45 despite the numerical disadvantage, but the visitors held firm defensively to retain all three points.
The Under 23's last game of the season comes on Monday at Loftus Road as Alex Morris pits his side against QPR.
Crewe: Jaaskelainen, T.Johnson, Adebisi, Walker, Offord, Lowery, Finney (Sass-Davies), Lundstram, Griffiths, Walsh (Hurst), Reilly