Reds missed the chance to climb off the bottom of Sky Bet League One on a disappointing night at Chesterfield.
Izale McLeod had a goal controversially disallowed and Jimmy Smith hit the bar before Eoin Doyle changed the complexion of the game with the opening goal.
Two more early in the second half from Jay O’Shea and Doyle put the Spireites in control as Reds’ run without a win in all competitions extended to 15 games, ahead of Saturday’s home tussle with Preston.
Dean Saunders named an unchanged team with Dean Morgan, who was making his return to Chesterfield, among the subs.
Gwion Edwards picked up an early booking for handball and at the other end Jimmy Ryan created a couple of chances for the hosts that Armand Gnanduillet headed over while Doyle dragged his shot wide.
Reds started well, though, and were furious with referee Attwell when he disallowed a goal in the 18th minute. Goalkeeper Tommy Lee dropped Smith’s corner under no pressure and McLeod stabbed the ball into the net. There were no protests from the home players but the official awarded a free kick, much to the annoyance of the Crawley players.
There was more frustration ten minutes later when Smith met Anthony Wordsworth’s free kick from the left with a powerful header which struck the bar with Lee beaten.
Price held a low drive from Charlie Raglan at the other end and Chesterfield began to build some momentum and were ahead on 33 minutes. Gnanduillet won a flick on which found strike partner Doyle and he cut inside from the left before firing a low shot into the bottom left-hand corner, with Price helpless.
Chesterfield had their tails up and Price needed to make a crucial low save from Daniel Jones’ cut-back to prevent one of three players tapping in from inside the six-yard box.
Price held Sam Morsy’s header from Sam Clucas’s delivery from the left but Reds got through to the break without going further behind.
Their reprieve didn’t last long as two goals in as many minutes at the start of the second half put paid to any hopes of a comeback.
Jay O’Shea was allowed too much space down Chesterfield’s left to latch onto Tendayi Darikwa’s pass and cut inside before bending his shot into the top left-hand corner on 51 minutes.
Things got worse a minute later. Darren Ward’s appeals for a foul when he tried to cushion a header back to Price were ignored and Doyle nipped in to side-foot past Price to make it 3-0 with his 24th goal of the season.
It was now a case of damage limitation for Reds, who made a double change on 65 minutes when Bobson Bawling and Morgan replaced Smith and Marvin Elliott.
And Morgan nearly scored with his first touch when he cleverly diverted Lewis Young’s cross goalwards and Lee saved at full stretch. From the corner Morgan headed just over the corner of post and crossbar.
Reds had switched to 4-3-3 with Matt Harrold replacing McLeod and Chesterfield went close to exploiting the extra space and adding to their lead. Doyle got clean through but stuck his shot wide as Price stood tall then Gnanduillet cut in from the left but his angled drive flashed across the face of goal and wide.
Morgan had looked lively and he threaded a lovely pass into Edwards’ path but Lee came racing out of goal to block the Welshman’s effort.
Reds had at least not capitulated after going 3-0 down so early in the second half although that was small comfort for Saunders and the 51 travelling fans on the long trek back down the M1.
Reds: Price; Oyebanjo, Ward, Walsh, Dickson; Edwards, Elliott (Bawling 65), Smith (Morgan 65), Wordsworth, Young; McLeod (Harrold 74). Subs not used: Dutton, Bradley, Anderson, Tomlin.