Frustrated Derby missed an opportunity to boost their First Division survival chances as Crewe managed to resist an almost continuous tide of attack from George Burley's side, who remain perilously placed in the bottom three.
Clayton Ince, Crewe's Trinidadian goalkeeper, was the busiest man on the field by some margin, bringing off save after save. When he was beaten, there was inevitably a defender coming to his rescue, although Derby could count themselves a little unlucky when the late substitute Izale McLeod wobbled the crossbar with a valiant effort to break the deadlock.
After four away defeats in a row, Derby have staked their survival on home form but while they can boast a record of five wins from their last eight games at Pride Park, failure to take maximum points last night left them two points adrift of safety.
"We played some great stuff and someone told me we had 26 efforts on goal, but though the way we are playing is encouraging at this stage of the season we need to be winning games," Burley said.
Crewe, needing to arrest a slide towards the bottom three after only one win in eight, answered their manager Dario Gradi's demand for greater resolve. "Stephen Foster and Clayton Ince were our two outstanding players," Gradi said. "We had to withstand tremendous pressure but in the end I felt we deserved a point."
Ince's catalogue of saves included one from his own teammate Kenny Lunt, whose sliced clearance almost resulted in a spectacular own goal. Lunt had also cleared off the line from Ian Taylor, while Ince twice denied Leon Osman as well as pushing the substitute Candido Costa's shot around the post.
Crewe twice had the ball in Derby's net only for infringements to rule the goals out but were limited to rare attacks and even their centre-forward, Dean Ashton, had to help the defensive effort, clearing away a header by Taylor with Ince beaten.
A header by Craig Hignett had the Derby goalkeeper, Lee Grant, scrambling to save but Ince added late saves from Paul Boertien and Taylor to his collection before McLeod, who replaced Tudgay with four minutes left, thumped the crossbar with his first touch of the ball.
Derby County (4-4-2): Grant; Jackson, Mawene, Johnson, Boertien; Taylor, Huddlestone, Osman, Reich (Costa, 16); Manel (Whelan, 60), Tudgay (McLeod, 86). Substitutes not used: Camp (gk), Bolder.
Crewe Alexandra (4-4-2): Ince; B Jones, Walker, Foster, Wright; Hignett (Robinson, 86), Lunt, Sorvel, Rix (Cochrane, 66); S Jones, Ashton. Substitutes not used: Tomlinson (gk), Tonkin, Edwards.
Referee: M Clattenburg (Northumberland).
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