Donaldson treble hurts Albion
Clayton Donaldson's hat-trick ensured Crewe ended their six-game winless run with a 4-1 win over Burton which left the Brewers teetering over the drop zone.
Shaun Miller also netted his 15th goal of the season as the Railwaymen killed off the visitors with three goals in the opening half-hour before Sam Winnall netted a late consolation for the Brewers.
Crewe took just two minutes to open the scoring with their first attack.
Luke Murphy picked out Donaldson who found it too easy to cut inside Ryan Austin before beating former Crewe goalkeeper Adam Legzdins at his near post.
Albion retaliated and Rhys Taylor kept out Jacques Maghoma's fierce shot before Adam Bolder blazed another effort over.
But Miller doubled Crewe's advantage in the seventh minute, dumping Andy Corbett on his backside before firing low into the far corner of the net.
Things got worse for Albion when Austin pushed Dave Artell over in the box.
Donaldson stuck the resultant 27th-minute penalty away at the second attempt after the referee spotted Burton players encroaching.
Nathan Stanton escaped unpunished when Murphy's goalbound shot hit the defender's hand before Greg Pearson's strike at the other end was ruled out for a marginal offside.
Stanton's superb last-ditch tackle stopped Miller from grabbing his second goal, while Maghoma's long-range effort produced a fine finger-tip save from Taylor.
Legzdins redeemed himself with an excellent double stop to deny Murphy and Donaldson before substitute Winnall rifled into the roof of the net to give the Brewers a lifeline with seven minutes to go.
But Donaldson tapped in from close-range in stoppage time after Legzdins parried Danny Shelley's shot into the path of the striker.
Crewe 4-1 Burton Albion: Match Report - view commentary, squad, and statictics of the game as it happened.