Cheltenham's five-match winning run in League Two was ended by Crewe.
Crewe goalkeeper Steve Phillips made a string of smart saves in the first half, turning over shots from Jimmy Spencer and Luke Summerfield.
The Railwaymen got their goal after Sido Jombati tripped Luke Murphy in the penalty area, leaving Harry Davis to score the spot-kick.
Cheltenham keeper Scott Brown, coming forward for a late corner, almost grabbed a late equaliser from a cross.
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Cheltenham Town boss Mark Yates told BBC Radio Gloucestershire:
"Sido is convinced it wasn't [a penalty]. One or two of the lads are saying 'yeah, it was a penalty'.
"Credit to Crewe, they've come and done a good job on us, but it [the end of the winning run] was going to happen some time - it's now just time to respond in a positive manner, time to go on another run.
"We were sloppy in the second half and got caught out and didn't play our usual game and we had to chase it and it didn't quite happen for us."
Crewe manager Dario Gradi told BBC Radio Stoke:
"You know what I say, don't give the referee the chance to give a penalty, so it goes for us as well as against us.
"We had great chances to finish it off and we could easily have come in winning 4-0 with the game being no different.
"Sarcevic did well in his first start but he has got more to offer than that."