The first points of the season continued to elude the Reds, as they lost 1-0 to Cambridge United at the Checkatrade Stadium on a frustrating Saturday afternoon.
Crawley created plenty of chances, with Mark Randall and Matt Harrold both rattling the woodwork in either half.
There were other chances for Jordan Roberts, Enzio Boldewijn and Thomas Verheydt, but it was United’s Jabo Ibhere who scored the winner on 62 minutes, after the substitute tapped home Uche Ikpeazu’s saved effort from six yards out.
Salt was rubbed in the wounds with the loss of Mark Connolly to injury, as the Irishman was forced off half an hour into the game.
Head Coach Harry Kewell made only change from the side that played at Cheltenham Town last weekend, with Panutche Camara earning his first Football League start of his career, at the expense of Josh Payne, who dropped down to the bench.
The Reds started well and came agonisingly close just five minutes in through Randall.
After a quick free kick, the midfielder went past his man before playing a one two with Verheydt and then curling a great effort from 25 yards which bounced off the crossbar.
The home side continued to move the ball well, however allowed Cambridge a superb chance after 12 minutes.
Medy Elliot drove at the Reds’ backline, before slipping a weighted ball through to Ikpeazu, but Glenn Morris got down well to get a palm to the U’s frontman’s placed effort.
Crawley then had a great opportunity themselves, as Cedric Evina released Roberts down the left flank, before the winger whipped in a dangerous cross back post that was met by Boldewijn, but the Dutchman’s effort fell wide.
Roberts’ joy continued down the left, again getting a dangerous cross in, which a 6-yard out Verheydt was inches from connecting with.
Just as he was in this fixture last season, Ikpeazu was United’s main goal threat and had another sniff at goal 15 minutes before the break, firing at goal powerfully from close range, but Morris tipped the effort over.
Moments after that the Reds were dealt a blow, as Connolly was withdrawn through injury after a superb interception on the edge of his box; Josh Yorwerth his replacement.
Kewell’s men appeared to lose some of their intensity after Connolly’s exit, and were tasked with dealing with several long balls from the visitors, however held firm until the break.
Just as they did in the first half, the Reds came out looking the strongest in the second, forcing the issue down either flank, with Boldewijn and Roberts alternating wings throughout.
However, it was the visitors that took the lead on 62 minutes, with Ibhere turning in Ikpeazu’s saved effort from close range.
Immediately after the goal, Matt Harrold came on in place of Camara.
The Reds looked to respond and almost did three minutes later on two separate occasions, with Verheydt almost scrambling in Boldewijn’s deflect effort, before the former’s well struck volley flashed just wide from the resulting corner.
It was then Roberts who almost pulled his side level, bursting past the line of defence and attempting to commit David Forde, but the keeper stood his ground and saved well.
Searching for the equaliser, Kewell took another roll of the dice, introducing Billy Clifford for Randall with 15 minutes to play.
The Reds were so nearly level in the 89th minute, when substitute Harrold controlled strike partner Verheydt’s knock down brilliantly, but the Englishman’s powerful volley smashed back off the post, in what was Crawley’s last chance to salvage a point.
REDS XI: Morris (GK), Young, Lelan, Connolly (Yorwerth, 30), Evina, Bulman, Randall (Clifford, 74), Boldewijn, Roberts, Camara (Harrold, 62), Verheydt.
REDS SUBS: Mersin (GK), Yorwerth, Blackman, Payne, Lewis, Clifford, Harrold.
ATTENDANCE: 2,059 (388 away)