Luke Murphy scored twice as Crewe beat Plymouth, who lost ground at the bottom of League Two.
The midfielder opened the scoring when he raced onto Matt Tootle's ball to drill home and made it 2-0 with an unstoppable finish.
Simon Walton gave Argyle hope from the spot before Ashley Westwood scored a spot-kick of his own for Crewe.
Matt Lecointe pulled one back with a turn and finish before team-mate Conor Hourihane's red card for two bookings.
Plymouth had manager Carl Fletcher sent off for criticising the decision to award Crewe a penalty after 53 minutes when Durrell Berry tripped AJ Leitch-Smith in the box.
Argyle are now three points behind second-from-bottom Northampton, who beat Morecambe 2-1 , while Crewe are safely in mid-table.
VIEWS FROM THE DRESSING ROOM
Crewe manager Steve Davis told BBC Radio Stoke:
"We knew it was going to be tough, but probably not as tough is it was at the end.
"It was a stuttering performance from us, we were good and bad, and we had to defend very well in the final 20 minutes of the game.
"We never looked safe and I always felt they looked like getting something, so we had to battle hard."
Plymouth Argyle manager Carl Fletcher told BBC Radio Devon:
"Coming away from home, we kept possession of the football fairly well.
"We were doing what we wanted to do so it was disappointing to lose sloppy goals from our point of view.
"To concede a penalty so soon after scoring was a blow but we kept coming back."
Live Text Commentary
Full Time The game is over, as the referee blows his whistle.90:00 +2:08
Adam Dugdale takes the free kick.90:00 +2:08 Dismissal
Dismissal Conor Hourihane shown a red card for second bookable offence.90:00 +1:52
Conor Hourihane gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Nick Powell.90:00 +0:21
Shot by Nick Powell. Save by Jake Cole. Inswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Byron Moore.89:58
Ashley Hemmings crosses the ball, save by Steve Phillips.85:54
Ashley Hemmings crosses the ball, Harry Davis makes a clearance.85:13
Ashley Westwood takes the inswinging corner, Darren Purse manages to make a clearance.80:41
Conor Hourihane produces a right-footed shot from just outside the box that misses to the right of the net.79:17
Indirect free kick taken by Adam Dugdale.79:17 Substitution
Substitution Shaun Miller is brought on as a substitute for Ajay Leitch-Smith.79:17 Substitution
Substitution (Crewe) makes a substitution, with Jamie Lowry coming on for Luke Murphy.79:17
Simon Walton challenges Lee Bell unfairly and gives away a free kick.78:15 Substitution
Substitution Luke Young leaves the field to be replaced by Will Atkinson.77:25
Corner taken by Ashley Westwood, clearance by Onismor Bhasera.74:46
The ball is crossed by Conor Hourihane, Simon Walton takes a shot. Save by Steve Phillips.74:25
The ball is swung over by Onismor Bhasera, Harry Davis makes a clearance.73:58
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Darren Purse by Nick Powell. Direct free kick taken by Darren Purse.71:49
Corner taken by Ashley Hemmings from the right by-line to the near post, clearance by David Artell. Effort on goal by Maxime Blanchard from just outside the area goes harmlessly over the target.70:24
The ball is delivered by Ashley Hemmings, Steve Phillips makes a save.
Luke Murphy takes a shot. Blocked by Darren Purse.68:22
The ball is swung over by Darren Purse, clearance by Adam Dugdale.67:14
Short corner taken by Ashley Hemmings.65:28
Onismor Bhasera provided the assist for the goal.65:28 Goal scored
Goal! - Matt Lecointe - Crewe 3 - 2 Plymouth Goal scored by Matt Lecointe from deep inside the penalty area to the bottom right corner of the goal. Crewe 3-2 Plymouth.62:48
Warren Feeney produces a cross, clearance made by David Artell.60:43
Matt Lecointe takes a shot. Save by Steve Phillips.58:36
Luke Young gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Nick Powell. Nick Powell has a direct shot on goal from the free kick.58:08
Unfair challenge on Byron Moore by Durrell Berry results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Lee Bell.56:27
David Artell restarts play with the free kick.56:27 Booking
Booking Conor Hourihane is cautioned.56:05 Substitution
Substitution Craig Sutherland goes off and Matt Lecointe comes on.56:05
The referee blows for offside.52:18 Goal scored
Goal! - Ashley Westwood - Crewe 3 - 1 Plymouth Placed penalty scored by Ashley Westwood. Crewe 3-1 Plymouth.51:14
Penalty awarded for an unfair challenge on Ajay Leitch-Smith by Durrell Berry.49:59 Goal scored
Goal! - Simon Walton - Crewe 2 - 1 Plymouth Placed penalty scored by Simon Walton. Crewe 2-1 Plymouth.48:52
Ashley Hemmings delivers the ball, Adam Dugdale concedes a Penalty for a foul on Warren Feeney.46:58
The ball is swung over by Ashley Hemmings.46:16
Ashley Hemmings takes a shot. Blocked by Matt Tootle.45:16
The ball is crossed by Harry Davis.45:01
The referee starts the second half.45:00 +1:14 Half time
Half Time The half-time whistle blows.45:00 +0:54
Lee Bell fouled by Conor Hourihane, the ref awards a free kick. Luke Murphy takes the direct free kick.45:00 +0:13
The referee blows for offside. Adam Dugdale takes the direct free kick.44:42
Unfair challenge on Byron Moore by Durrell Berry results in a free kick. Nick Powell restarts play with the free kick.43:04 Goal scored
Goal! - Luke Murphy - Crewe 2 - 0 Plymouth Goal scored by Luke Murphy from just outside the area to the bottom left corner of the goal. Crewe 2-0 Plymouth.41:25
The referee gives a free kick against Onismor Bhasera for handball. The free kick is swung in right-footed by Ashley Westwood, clearance made by Maxime Blanchard.39:58
Byron Moore takes a shot. Save by Jake Cole.39:17
Outswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Ashley Westwood, clearance made by Darren Purse.38:51
The ball is swung over by Simon Walton, clearance made by David Artell.36:40
The referee blows for offside against Ajay Leitch-Smith. Jake Cole restarts play with the free kick. Effort on goal by Ashley Hemmings from long range goes harmlessly over the target.36:00
Effort on goal by Luke Young from outside the area goes harmlessly over the bar.33:29
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Simon Walton by Ashley Westwood. Direct free kick taken by Jake Cole.32:19
Shot from just outside the box by Ashley Hemmings goes over the crossbar.29:21
Maxime Blanchard gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Ajay Leitch-Smith. Lee Bell restarts play with the free kick.27:46
The referee blows for offside against Warren Feeney. Free kick taken by Adam Dugdale.27:27
Durrell Berry delivers the ball, save by Steve Phillips.25:33
Onismor Bhasera sends in a cross, save by Steve Phillips.25:04
Luke Murphy takes a shot. Save made by Jake Cole.22:44
The ball is sent over by Ashley Westwood, clearance by Darren Purse.21:06
Luke Murphy handles the ball and concedes a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Ashley Hemmings. Onismor Bhasera sends in a cross, clearance made by Byron Moore.19:52
Matt Tootle provided the assist for the goal.19:52 Goal scored
Goal! - Luke Murphy - Crewe 1 - 0 Plymouth Goal scored by Luke Murphy from the edge of the penalty area to the bottom right corner of the goal. Crewe 1-0 Plymouth.18:54
Harry Davis crosses the ball, clearance by Maxime Blanchard.16:58
Luke Young takes a shot. Steve Phillips makes a comfortable save.14:36
A cross is delivered by Onismor Bhasera, David Artell makes a clearance.13:24
Unfair challenge on Luke Young by Byron Moore results in a free kick. Simon Walton takes the free kick.12:10
Conor Hourihane has an effort at goal from just outside the box which goes wide of the right-hand post.7:39
Luke Young has an effort at goal from outside the penalty box missing to the wide right of the target. Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Ashley Hemmings, clearance by David Artell. Short corner taken by Luke Young.7:23
Ashley Westwood produces a cross, Jake Cole makes a save.5:39
Shot from deep inside the area by Byron Moore clears the crossbar.3:45
Warren Feeney crosses the ball, Craig Sutherland produces a right-footed shot from deep inside the penalty box which goes wide of the left-hand post.1:35
Free kick awarded for a foul by Simon Walton on Nick Powell. Matt Tootle takes the free kick. The referee blows for offside. Jake Cole restarts play with the free kick.1:17
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Simon Walton by Luke Murphy. Darren Purse takes the free kick.0:00
The referee gets the match started.
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