Forte on target in 1-1 draw
Jonathan Forte came back to haunt one of his former clubs as Reds battled to a 1-1 draw at Meadow Lane against play-off rivals Notts County.
Forte, who scored five goals in 11 games for Notts on loan from Southampton last season, side-footed home a 44th-minute equaliser to cancel out Neal Bishop's early strike for the Magpies.
Reds grew into the game after surviving a torrid first 25 minutes and fully deserved their share of the spoils.
Notts have lost more home games than any top-ten side but you would not have thought it given their superb start to the contest.
Their wide men, in particular Jamal Campbell-Ryce, stretched Reds almost at will in the first 25 minutes and should have had more than Neal Bishop's 10th-minute goal to show for their early dominance.
The midfielder made an unchecked run from an onside position to get on the end of Campbell-Ryce's chip over the Reds' defence and Bishop hooked the ball past Paul Jones for his fifth goal of the season.
Reds might have been really up against it had Yoann Arquin not headed a perfect cross from Campbell-Ryce over the bar on 19 minutes while skipper Claude Davis made a superb block from another Arquin effort, a fiercely struck close-range volley.
Crawley began to impose themselves as the half wore on and with both sides committed to attack there was a refreshing openness to the game.
Josh Simpson and Nicky Adams weren't far away from distance then Forte slipped in the act of shooting when Billy Clarke's pass put him in space on 36 minutes.
But the pressure paid off a minute before half-time. Bartosz Bialkowski got down well to keep out a header from Clarke and although Notts cleared the initial corner Mike Jones found Adams on the right with a perceptive pass. Adams cut inside then pulled the ball into the path of Forte who side-footed home from six yards for his second goal of the campaign.
It was just the confidence boost Reds needed for the second half which proved to be much more cagey than the first, the respective managers having clearly told their charges at half-time to put a bit more emphasis on the defensive arts.
That was epitomised by Davis who made a brilliantly-timed block to stop Campbell-Ryce in his tracks. A stretcher was called for but the skipper got to his feet and was able to continue.
It was one of the few occasions when Notts threatened in the second half. Substitute Lee Hughes, distracted by Davis's challenge, headed Leacock's cross wide with 12 minutes to go and Paul Jones then got down well to save a shot from Arquin which lacked sufficient power but Reds largely kept the home side at bay.
At the other end Reds kept the ball well although they didn't pose Bartosz Bialkowski too many problems. As the game wore on Reds opted to keep what they had although Adams, who was the best outlet for the visitors, flashed an inviting centre across the face of goal that only just eluded the on-rushing Forte.
At the final whistle the 308 fans who had made the trip from Crawley saluted the players in celebration of a well-earned but deserved point.