By Ben Blackmore
Reds slipped to a 3-0 defeat at Greenhous Meadow but it could have been a different Easter Monday scoreline had the visitors converted their chances.
Crawley enjoyed large amounts of possession but a string of missed opportunities would eventually cost Richie Barker’s side.
Tom Eaves proved the difference between the two sides with a fine second-half hat-trick to condemn Reds to only a second defeat in 11 League One games.
Barker made two changes to the side that drew with Stevenage on Good Friday as Dannie Bulman came in for Mike Jones whilst Billy Clarke replaced Josh Simpson.
Reds looked the more confident side from the off. Jamie Proctor was presented with the first chance of the afternoon but after turning just outside the box he fired a shot that ballooned over the crossbar.
Just a minute later and Proctor was once again involved when he connected with Mustapha Dumbuya’s looping cross from the right hand side but couldn’t keep his header under the bar.
Dannie Bulman then lofted over a perfect pass onto the feet of Proctor and the forward took the ball down well but couldn’t find the finish with just the goalkeeper to beat.
Shrewsbury offered little up front in the first period until Steve McGinn stung the palms of Paul Jones in the Crawley goal just before the break in what was our keeper’s first real test of the game.
Into the second half and Crawley were caught napping straight after kick-off and found themselves 1-0 down on 47 minutes.
Eaves collected the ball from inside Crawley’s half before firing an unstoppable 20-yard left-footed shot past Jones to give the hosts the lead.
Reds remained patient and had a great chance to earn themselves a route back into the match. Nicky Adams attacked down the right wing and cross found Proctor just five yards out from goal but the striker was unable to connect with the goal gaping.
Shortly after the miss, Shrewsbury caught Crawley out with a counter-attack that ended with the hosts doubling their advantage. Eavespicked the ball up from his own half before he ran 60 yards and finished the move off with a deft lob over Jones to make the score 2-0 in the 67th minute.
Despite the two-goal deficit it was Crawley who still looked comfortable in possession and were unlucky again when Adams cut in from the left hand side, shooting narrowly wide when his shot looked destined for the top corner.
Shrews were buzzing following their second goal and should have made it 3-0 from the spot after Paul Hayes had been adjudged to have held Yado Mambo’s shirt in the area.
Matt Richards blasted his spot-kick high into the stand but his teammate Eaves completed his hat-trick in the 85th minute. The ball dropped kindly for the striker and he lashed home his third goal with a delightful effort from 20 yards out.
He proved to be the difference on a frustrating afternoon for Reds.