Gillingham slipped back into the League 1 relegation zone following defeat at Crewe.
Goals from Nicky Ajose and Harry Davis gave Crewe a 2-0 half-time lead.
The Gills pulled a goal back early in the second half as Bradley Dack slid onto Cody McDonald’s shot.
Crewe made sure of the win with a goal from Uche Ikpeazu.
It was Gillingham’s fourth defeat in a row and third from three for the caretaker management team.
Joe Martin missed out with an injury and Gills’ problems got worse when John Egan pulled out of the warm-up, having originally been named in the starting XI.
Egan was a pre-match doubt after having a stitch in a foot injury during the midweek defeat against Bristol City.
Josh Hare came in for his first start since August as replacement off the bench. Hare was one of several young substitutes named as Gills’ lack of numbers was apparent.
Despite the set-back, the Gills started the match well enough, with debutant striker John Marquis sending a shot over the bar, while Bradley Dack fired wide.
Gillingham’s good early tempo didn’t last and they fell behind in the 28 minute. Ajose fired home from the penalty spot after Gavin Hoyte had fouled Uche Ikpeazu in the area.
The penalty was hotly disputed by the Gills management team, who thought the ball had gone out of play in the build-up to the goal.
Things got worse for the visitors five minutes later. Greg Leigh whipped in a free-kick and Ajose got in behind the defence to divert the ball goalwards. Nelson made the save but the ball popped up for Davis to bundle home.
Gillingham had a few more chances before the break, with Jermaine McGlashan attempting to make something with his pace. He had one shot that fizzed wide with Cody McDonald narrowly missing it on the stretch.
Gills keeper Stuart Nelson made an important save at the start of the second half as Ajose got in behind the defence. He ran off his line to thwart the Crewe striker.
McDonald and Dack both claimed Gillingham’s 55 minute goal. Leading scorer McDonald had the shot and Dack, sliding in with a defender, was claiming the last touch.
The Gills pressed for an equaliser but almost fell further behind with 20 minutes left when Ikpeazu hit a shot into the side netting.
It was Ikpeazu who made it 3-1, in the 83 minute, but there were appeals for handball in the build-up. The big striker held off the defence and fired home with referee Mark Brown ignoring the appeals.
Crewe: Garratt, Guthrie, Davis, Baillie, Jones (Turton 77mins), Leigh, Ness, Tate, Ikpeazu, Ajose (Dalla Valle 83mins), Grant. Subs not used: Dugdale, Cooper, Nolan, Haber, Stewart.
Gillingham: Nelson, Hare, Hoyte, Ehmer, Hessenthaler, Legge, Loft, Dack, Marquis (Norris 61), McDonald, McGlashan (Dickenson 73mins). Subs not used: G Morris, Galbraith, Romeo, Staunton.
Attendance: 4,436 (275 away)