Crewe striker Clayton Donaldson scored an 85th-minute leveller to secure a 1-1 draw at Torquay.
United took the lead with a superb 38th-minute goal by recalled target man Scott Rendell.
Chris Zebroski's brilliant run and cross was met by Rendell with an instinctive first-time strike which gave keeper Steve Phillips no chance.
Home midfielder Lee Mansell fired over at the start of the second half and Zebroski went close with a 25-yard drive on the run.
Alex had a golden opportunity to level from the penalty spot after a foul by Mark Ellis on Shaun Miller, but the Crewe man blasted over.
United's joy was short-lived, however, as Miller's run across the edge of the area ended with a backheel to tee up Donaldson, who made no mistake with a shot into the corner.
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