Reds slipped to a harsh 2-1 defeat at Scunthorpe in League One at Glanford Park on Saturday.
Matt Sparrow gave the visitors a 48th-minute lead against his former club but the home side turned it round with goals from Jimmy Ryan (67 mins) and Niall Canavan (78).
Jamie Proctor hit the bar and Lateef Elford-Alliyu was inches away from equalising but the home side held on for the three points.
An unchanged Reds found themselves under early pressure against a Scunthorpe side chasing back-to-back home wins for the first time in nearly three years.
Paul Jones tipped over a rising drive from Akpo Sodje and then pushed a shot by Mark Duffy around the post for as corner.
The hosts certainly carried more of a threat in the first half but both sides were guilty of wasting good possession.
Reds’ best outlet was Nicky Adams on the left. He dribbled into the six yard box only for Sam Slocombe in the home goal to pounce on his cut-back. Mat Sadler then made a break into the home box and his cross only just missed Jamie Proctor who had launched himself headlong at the ball.
Scunthorpe threatened again after 36 minutes when Sodje found a yard of space but his header was well kept out by Jones, who was much the busier of the keepers in the first half.
Collins rumbled up from the back to head onto the top of the bar whilew at the other end Billy Clarke’s pass put Mike Jones into space and he wasn’t far away with a drive from 25 yards which whistled wide.
In truth, though, it had been a poor first 45 minutes but things perked up decidedly after the break with Reds going ahead three minutes into the half.
Billy Clarke made the goal with a surging run into the box and cut-back to an unmarked Sparrow who could hardly miss six yards out. The ex-Scunthorpe player did not celebrate but his team-mates certainly did.
Mike Jones nearly had a second just past the hour when Clarke found him 20 yards out for a drive which whistled just wide and at that stage Reds had a measure of control.
But the game changed on 67 minutes. Michael Collins’ shot was pushed out by Jones and as he tried to clear Mustapha Dumbuya’s clearance cannoned off Jimmy Ryan and into the net.
Both sides now fancied their chances of winning it and Proctor was inches away from his first Crawley goal when his far-post header from Adams’ cross hit the bar.
But Reds fell behind with 12 minutes to go with a simple goal. Ryan’s deep corner was met by a thumping, unchallenged header at the far post by Canavan that flew in despite Mat Sadler’s efforts to clear off the line.
The visitors pushed forward in search of an equaliser in the closing stages and substitute Lateef Elford-Alliyu wasn’t far away with a shot from 15 yards while Clarke’s cross just eluded Torres as he came in at the far post.
But it wasn’t to be and Reds were left to reflect on the long journey home that this was a game they ought to have got something from.