A much-changed Reds side fell to a 2-0 home defeat to League One Charlton on Tuesday night, in the opening Checkatrade Trophy group game.
The Reds were by no means outclassed by the Addicks, and had their share of opportunities to find the net.
However a first half strike from Ben Reeves and a goal after the break from George Lapsie, gave the visitors maximum points in the first game of the tournament group stages.
Head Coach Harry Kewell made seven changes from the team that played at Swindon on the weekend.
Yusuf Mersin, Joe McNerney, Kaby Djalo, Josh Payne, Dennon Lewis, Thomas Verheydt and Ibrahim Meite all came into the side, with the latter making his full debut.
Lewis Young, Josh Yorwerth, Dannie Bulman and Panutche Camara were on duty from the start again after Saturday’s win at Swindon.
The game started relatively slowly, with possession breaking up regularly and both teams just finding their feet in the opening minutes.
Verheydt started fine tuning his shooting boots, as the Dutchman fired a decent effort just wide of the post from the right-hand side of the area.
Young was withdrawn after 12 minutes and was replaced by Aryan Tajbakhsh.
Charlton were having their share of possession but were yet to create anything of significance, whilst another half chance fell to the hosts.
Lewis was released down the right flank and drove towards the box before cutting the ball back to Meite, whose deflected shot was parried over by Dillon Phillips.
The Addicks did get their first sniff of goal shortly after Meite’s effort, through Karlan Ahearne-Grant as the winger cut in from the left side and tried to beat Yusuf Mersin from a tight angle, but the stopper was equal to it.
Kewell made yet another change just after the half an hour mark, with Bulman leaving the field and Billy Clifford coming on in his place.
The game was becoming end to end, however neither time was yet to carve out a clear-cut opportunity, but Camara did have a sight of goal a couple of minutes after the Reds second substitution.
The ball was fizzed into Verheydt at pace and the striker deftly flicked the ball into the path of the onrushing Camara, but he skewed his shot wide.
However, moments later it was Charlton who took the lead, through Reeves.
Mersin’s clearance fell directly to the midfielder’s feet 25-yards out, who then took aim and fired efficiently down to the keeper’s bottom left corner.
The Reds came out fighting after the break, and pressed the visitors high and forced them to play on the counter.
Counter they did and Mersin was forced into a smart save when Reigan Charles-Cook was released down the side of Yorwerth and fired low.
Crawley made their third and final change shortly after Charles-Cook’s effort, with Verheydt making way for fellow countryman Moussa Sanoh.
Sanoh was involved shortly after his introduction, pinching possession back on the edge of the area and firing at goal, but Phillips got down to deny him.
Seconds before Meite had a good opportunity as he controlled Lewis’ deflected cross and set to shoot, but the ball was nicked away by a defender.
Despite Crawley pushing high, the threat of the counter proved to be real as Charlton doubled their advantage 20 minutes from time.
Substitute Lapsie broke beyond the Reds defensive line and held off defenders, before sliding to roll the ball beyond Mersin.
Even though Kewell’s men trailed by two goals, the side’s endeavour didn’t fade, as they continued to pursue a goal.
Lewis was active down the right side, and Camara got his measurements just off as he looked to curl one from just outside the penalty box.
Payne struck a superb free-kick after Clifford was brought down on the edge of the box, but Phillips did brilliantly to tip it just over the bar.
The midfielder fired another set piece goalwards a few minutes later, but it flew over the bar and concluded the Reds’ evening efforts.
Reds XI: Mersin, Young (Tajbakhsh, 12), Yorwerth, NcNerney, Djalo, Payne, Bulman (Clifford, 33), Camara, Lewis, Meite, Verheydt (Sanoh, 56).
Subs: Morris, Lelan, Tajbakhsh, Clifford, Sanoh.
Attendance: 1,666 (650 away)