SWINDON Town’s League Two play-off hopes are all but over following a lacklustre defeat at home to Crewe Alexandra today.

The result leaves Richie Wellens’ side five points adrift of the top seven with just two games to go this season.

Town also drop to 14th in the table and it seems nigh-on impossible that they will overtake all seven of the teams above them even with maximum points in the concluding games away at Cheltenham Town and at home to Notts County.

Despite so much resting on the game, Swindon’s performance was woefully flat at the Energy Check County Ground, and Crewe were well in control of the contest at the break as a brace of Chris Porter goals book-ended the half.

Town were given a lifeline on the hour mark when Michael Doughty cut the deficit from the penalty spot after Ben House was sent tumbling in the box.

However, that failed to spark a revival for the home side and they struggled to create a clear sight of an equalising goal, with the chorus of boos that greeted the final whistle perhaps a sign that supporters have resigned themselves to another season in the bottom tier of the EFL.

Wellens made three changes to the side which started the 0-0 draw away at Cambridge United on Good Friday as Tom Broadbent, James Dunne and Theo Robinson all came into the Town team.

Danny Rose, Kaiyne Woolery and House were the men to miss out, with the trio having to make do with places on the bench.

Swindon were caught napping early on as Crewe broke the deadlock inside three minutes. The home side had flooded forward but were undone on the counter as Paul Green released Tommy Lowery into Town territory.

The Alex midfielder raced into the box before cutting the ball back into the path of Porter’s run, and he had the simple task of beating Luke McCormick from eight yards.

Only a diving McCormick save denied Porter a second goal after just seven minutes, with the Town keeper pushing his curling strike around the post at full stretch.

All the threat came from the visitors and they had the ball in the Town box again after 11 minutes, with Callum Ainley undoing the Town defence with nifty footwork before lashing a low drive across the face of goal and wide.

Almost 20 minutes had passed before Town tested visiting keeper Will Jaaskelainen for the first time. Kyle Bennett played Luke Woolfenden into the box and he cut the ball back for Robinson, but his 10-yard toe-poke was comfortably gathered by the Crewe stopper.

That failed to ignite the hosts into life as a lengthy lull in play then ensued, with the most notable pieces of action being a yellow card for Dunne – with the visitors demanding a red instead – as he cynically halted a Crewe counter, and the introduction of Woolery off the bench at the expense of Ali Koiki as Wellens tried to find a spark for his side.

Town were the next to carve open a genuine chance, with Robinson again finding the gloves of Jaaskelainen after chasing a long ball over the top five minutes before half-time.

However, Swindon were undone again in stoppage time at the end of the first half in exactly the same manner as they had been done in the game’s opening exchanges as Crewe doubled their lead.

Lowery’s pace a trickery caused havoc for the home back-line and his drilled low ball across the face of goal was bundled home by Porter from close range.

Town were again caught napping as the second half got under way and Crewe can only have themselves to blame for not having a third goal to their name within six minutes of the restart when an offside flag robbed Porter of his hat-trick.

Ainley pounced on a slip by Doughty in the middle of the park to race through unchallenged on McCormick. After rounding the keeper, he opted to pass to Porter, but the striker was ahead of him and the goal was rightly ruled out by the linesman.

Wellens sent House on in place of Keshi Anderson on the hour and the change had an instant impact as the striker won his side a penalty within two minutes of his introduction.

House robbed possession before being powering into the box where he was clumsily bundled over by Ryan Wintle, and Doughty duly dispatched the resulting spot-kick to give Town a lifeline.

Crewe thought they should have had a penalty of their own immediately afterwards when Porter nicked the ball off Dion Conroy, only to then go down in the box under pressure from the recovery challenge.

Referee Lee Collins instead gave Swindon a free-kick and booked Porter for diving, with Alex manager David Artell so incensed by the decision that his boisterous protests resulted in him being sent from the touchline.

Town began to pummel balls into the Crewe box via set-pieces in the closing stages but clear-cut chances were not forthcoming in the face of a stubborn defensive effort from the visitors and Swindon were left to reflect on what now seems an inevitable third straight season in League Two.

SWINDON TOWN (3-5-2): McCormick; Woolfenden, Broadbent, Conroy (c); Knoyle, Doughty, Dunne, Bennett, Koiki (Woolery 35); Anderson (House 60), Robinson (Richards 81). Subs not used: Henry, McCourt, Lancashire, Rose.

CREWE (4-3-3): Jaaskelainen; Ng, Wintle, Nolan, Hunt; Green (Finney 78), Lowery, Jones; Ainley (Dale 67), Porter, Kirk (Bowery 77). Subs not used: Garratt, Miller, Reilly, Sass-Davies.

Referee: Lee Collins

Attendance: 6,107