It needed a 56th-minute penalty to bring the game to life. It went the way of Crewe when Ben Chorley held down Billy Jones following a corner. Gary Roberts netted into the top left-hand corner past keeper John Achterberg.
Tranmere soon responded and drew level in the 65th minute. Mike Jones, who gave an impressive performance, set up Chris Shuker who beat Ben Williams from 12 yards.
Tranmere looked the more likely winners in the closing stages but Paul McLaren saw a goal-bound header tipped away by Williams before Shane Sherriff shaved the outside of a post in stoppage time.
Rovers huffed and puffed to little advantage in the opening period.
Robbie Stockdale and Steve Jennings both missed the target from 25 yards. Jennings was then unlucky in the 27th minute when he struck a post. Chris Greenacre did net following the rebound but was judged offside.
Crewe should have been ahead in the 37th minute. Roberts was unmarked at the far post but headed just wide from Jones' free-kick.
At the other end Shuker fired over from Jones' cross and also missed the target again in the 45th minute.
Jennings worked tirelessly throughout for the home side and there was also some hard work from Greenacre.
Danny Woodards, Jones and Byron Moore did well for the visitors.