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HIGHLY-RESPECTED Crewe manager Dario Gradi hailed Town's five-star performance as the best his side have faced all season, writes Derek Davis. The magnanimous Gradi said: "The display Ipswich put on was the best anyone has put up against us by a long way.

HIGHLY-RESPECTED Crewe manager Dario Gradi hailed Town's five-star performance as the best his side have faced all season, writes Derek Davis.

The magnanimous Gradi said: "The display Ipswich put on was the best anyone has put up against us by a long way. We were short on players; Colin Murdock would have done better than Richard Walker at the back, but he didn't lose the game.

"Only Billy Jones from my team would have got in the Ipswich team, but they were excellent. You thought all through the game that they would score goals."

Gradi has accepted that relegation is almost inevitable after the defeat, with Coventry to play, although Town could do Crewe a favour by beating Brighton next Sunday.


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Gradi said: "To stand a chance we need to win next week, but perhaps we are not good enough. Our results since Christmas would suggest this league is, perhaps, too difficult for us.

"We were out of our depth against Ipswich. Perhaps they were too good or we were too poor, or it was a combination of both. If we came here next week we would be beaten again because I don't see any way that we are better than Ipswich.

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"But we don't need to be better than Ipswich next week, we need to be better than Coventry, who had a good result (beating Derby 6-2) so it will be another tall order for us."

Gradi accepted the loss of Dean Ashton, who was sold to Norwich City, has played a massive part in their downfall. Alex have not won since he went but Gradi is hoping Ashton, and City, retain their Premiership status as it would be worth an extra £500,000 to Crewe.

He added: "Having Dean Ashton would have helped us against Ipswich and to stay up. We would have been safe by now. We lost against Stoke after having three good chances and he would have scored two of them.

"We knew that at the time and realised even though we had a lot of points we might not win another game. It still would not have made any difference to what we do because that is our policy. The players know that. They expect us to let them go, which is why they are loyal to us in the first place."

Crewe hope to have experienced centre-half Murdock and striker Steve Jones back for their relegation crunch clash with City.

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