Collins scores 18th of season but it's consolation for lacklustre Crawley
Reds failed to build on Tuesday’s excellent win at Colchester after a first half to forget at home to Morecambe.
The Shrimps were 2-0 up after seven minutes and led 3-0 at the break thanks to two goals from Paul Mullin after Rhys Murphy had headed them into a third minute lead.
Reds improved in the second half – which would not have been difficult – and got a lifeline in the 77th minute when James Collins scored his 18th of the season from the penalty spot – the seventh successive home game in which he had scored.
But Morecambe held on comfortably for the remainder of the contest and were deserved winners.
While they made five changes Crawley named an unchanged side but fell behind in the third minute. Lee Molyneux was given too much space to cross from the left and Murphy was unmarked to plant a powerful close-range header past Glenn Morris.
It got worse four minutes later. Antony Evans fed Mullin down the right and raced unchallenged into the box before sliding the ball through Morris’s legs.
Shellshocked Reds took a while to respond but Morecambe keeper Barry Roche saved Mark Connolly’s long-range effort at the second attempt before making a smart save from Collins’ powerful drive 15 yards out in the 26th minute.
But the visitors, well organised and potent on the break, went 3-0 up in the 40th minute. Morris pulled off a brilliant save to push away Mullin’s lob after Michael Rose had smashed the ball downfield and split the home defence. The reprieve didn’t last long. Crawley failed to clear the corner and Mullin’s shot took a deflection that took it beyond Morris’s despairing dive.
Dermot Drummy brought on Rhys Murphy for Kaby Djalo at the break but they nearly conceded a fourth in the 53rd minute when Morris had to come haring out of his goal to dispossess two Morecambe players.
Lee Molyneux side-footed wide from Antony Evans’ inviting cross and it wasn’t until the last 20 minutes before Reds finally began to threaten, even though they had enjoyed more possession in the second half.
Rhys Murphy won the penalty in the 77th minute after drawing an off the ball foul from Alex Whitmore and Collins buried the penalty into the bottom left-hand corner.
A minute later Josh Lelan squandered a great chance when a corner dropped to him but his volley went well wide and just about summed up a flat, lacklustre performance.
Man of the match Morris made a great reflex save to deny substitute Aaron Wildig and even though there were seven minutes of stoppage time the hosts had run out of steam.
Crawley: Morris; Young, Connolly, Lelan (sub: Bawling 90), Roberts; Henderson, Djalo (Murphy 45); Boldewijn, Smith, Cox (Clifford 70); Collins. Unused subs: Mersin, Payne, Blackman, Yorwerth.
Attendance: 2091 (49 Morecambe)
Man of the match (chosen by match sponsors Brewers): Glenn Morris