George Lloyd’s second Football League goal of the season wasn’t enough for Cheltenham Town as a brace from Shaun Miller gave Crewe Alexandra all three points in the final game of the 2017/18 Sky Bet League Two season.
David Artell’s side opened the scoring after 17 minutes when Miller ran through following a long ball and finished coolly underneath the advancing Rhys Lovett.
The Robins equalised in the 34th minute though, as Mo Eisa crossed to the far post for Lloyd to net his 42nd goal in all competitions, bundling into the net despite pressure from his marker.
The Railwaymen were back in front just after the hour mark though, as Miller curled in his second from just inside the penalty box after another defensive mix-up.
Joe Morrell had two late efforts for Cheltenham, but the hosts held firm to ensure that Gary Johnson’s side finished the season in 17th place.
Johnson made six alterations to his starting line-up for the season finale in Cheshire, as Rhys Lovett started in goal making his Football League debut alongside five other changes.
Jamie Grimes, Taylor Moore, Jordan Cranston, Sanmi Odelusi and George Lloyd came in with Joe Rodon, Harry Pell, Carl Winchester, Scott Flinders, Jerell Sellars and Danny Wright all dropping out.
Crewe named a team made entirely out of academy graduates, and the Robins had five homegrown players in their squad, with Lloyd starting and four on the bench.
It was a cagey start to the game at Gresty Road, with little in the way of goalmouth action during the opening 10 minutes.
That was until Joe Morrell found Moore with a deep curling free-kick, but the right-back flicked his header just wide of the post.
A dangerous set-piece at the other end for Crewe was then cleared by an important Will Boyle diving header, but neither side had managed an attempt on target until the deadlock was broken after 17 minutes.
Jamie Grimes failed to control a long ball over the top, which Miller pounced on and slotted under the advancing Lovett to put the hosts ahead.
Johnson’s side looked to hit back immediately, as Eisa tried his luck from distance with a dipping attempt that went off target before Cranston’s sublime cross was well defended at the far post.
Cheltenham were enjoying most of the possession and ball but lacked that cutting edge, until a fortunate break brought about the equaliser.
Eisa played a one-two with Odelusi and the ball rebounded nicely for the Sudan-born forward, whose cross-shot was bundled in at the far post by Lloyd to level after 34 minutes.
That was Lloyd’s second goal in three starts, having netted at Cambridge United two weeks before.
Charlie Kirk drove forward and hit a long-range attempt that whistled over Lovett’s crossbar right before half-time as the teams went in level at the interval.
Early second half substitute Jordan Bowery knocked the ball down for Miller to hit first time on the volley from distance which flew off target.
Bowery then lost his footing at the crucial moment when Kirk cut the ball back to the edge of the six-yard-box, missing the ball with the goal gaping as the Railwaymen missed a great chance to go ahead again.
The impressive Ilias Chatzitheodoridis, who was playing in the middle, was involved in two good moves as Lloyd shot straight at Ben Garratt before Eisa flashed an effort across the face of goal.
But Crewe went back ahead in the 62nd minute as Miller took advantage when Bowery was crowded out by Will Boyle and Grimes, curling into the bottom corner when the ball rebounded to him.
The Robins made all three of their changes between the 69th and 73rd minute as Sellars, Matt Bower and Wright came on for Cranston, Grimes and goal-scorer Lloyd.
Cheltenham pushed for an equaliser but couldn’t find one as the 2017/18 season finished with a loss in Cheshire.
CREWE: Garratt (Gk), Ng, Ray, Jones, Ainley (Green 63), Wintle, Lowery (Porter 63), Pickering, Kirk, Reilly (Bowery 49), Miller. Subs not used: Richards (Gk), Walker, Lundstram, Sterry.
ROBINS: Lovett (Gk), Grimes (Bower 69), Cranston (Sellars 69), Atangana, Boyle, Eisa, Morrell, Moore, Odelusi, Chatzitheodoridis, Lloyd (Wright 73). Subs not used:Grimshaw (Gk), Page, Thomas, Graham.
REFEREE: M Sailsbury
ATTENDANCE: 4,350 (237 from Cheltenham)