A NARROW victory kept Crewe's slim promotion ambitions alive on Saturday.
Third-placed Crewe are showing signs of pressure as they attempt to win every game until the end of the season, in pursuit of the second promotion spot in the Euromanx South Lancs/Cheshire Division Two.
Their plight has not been aided by the resignation of bottom-club Birchfield from the league, with the four points Crewe took from the Widnes side this season taken away.
But the fact remains that they must win their final three matches, and hope Oldershaw lose one of their last two, to go up.
Facing Ashton-on-Mersey on Saturday, Ashley Blake-more got his side off to a good start by intercepting a wayward pass and outpacing the home defence to score a fine try between the sticks.
Richard Stringfellow broke forward and, aided by Andy O'Keefe, crashed over to extend the advantage.
Crewe's place kicking was spot-on as Danny Lynch grabbed a pair of conversions and two penalty kicks to make it 20-0 at the break.
Ashton looked a different side after the restart, pressurising and driving Crewe backwards.
Handling and passing errors began to creep into the visitors' game as the nerves started to jangle.
Slowly but surely the home side ate into Crewe's lead.
Three excellent tries were added to by a pair of conversions as Matt Farr's lads hung on grimly.
The referee's final whistle was gratefully received.
A club spokesman said: 'The win on Saturday was most fortunate for even in the first period, much of the time was spent in our own half.
'Somehow a comfortable lead was still built up by isolated forays upfield.
'Signs of the pressure of having to win every game are showing, and a rather frantic brand of rugby, as opposed to the previously well-organised game, has taken over.'
Crewe and Nantwich entertain Ruskin Park in their last home game of the season on April 2 at 3pm.
Crewe seconds beat Didsbury 12-0 while sporting red hair dye for Comic Relief on Saturday, while the thirds and fourths went down to Knutsford and Anselmians respectively.
Crewe and Nantwich U8s battled their way to the Cheshire Plate quarter-finals at the weekend.
In games against Wirral, Altrincham Kersal, Knutsford and Congleton, they scored a grand total of 12 tries.
Jonathan Denfhy, Patrick Dooher, David Doyle and Lukas Owen-Ziegenbalg all claimed three apiece.