Jordan Roberts produced a goal of the season contender but Reds are out of the Emirates FA Cup at the first-round stage for the fourth season in a row.
Roberts’ superb volley on the turn – his fourth goal of the season – gave Crawley the lead midway through the first half at a sparsely populated DW Stadium.
But Wigan, unbeaten at home and second in League Two, were soon level through Ivan Toney after Roberts had given the ball away just inside his own half.
Toney hit the bar before Lee Evans smashed the ball past Glenn Morris from 30 yards shortly after Enzio Boldewijn had squandered a great chance for Reds from a free header six-yards out.
Harry Kewell’s men played their part in an entertaining tie but can now, as the old adage goes, ‘concentrate on the league.’
Reds made two changes to the team that drew at Lincoln a week ago. Josh Yorwerth and the unwell Cedric Evina made way for Lewis Young and Josh Doherty as Harry Kewell opted for a 4-4-2 formation with Roberts alongside Panutche Camara in attack. Kaby Djalo was also absent, having gone back to Portugal for the birth of his first child.
Wigan made most of the early running with Gary Roberts seeing a shot saved before Toney volleyed into the side netting in the tenth minute.
Reds gradually worked their way into the contest and took the lead in the 21st minute with a goal which will take some beating for its skill level in this season’s FA Cup.
Roberts took a throw from Josh Lelan on his chest, turned defender Alex Bruce and produced a superb right-foot volley into the top corner from 12 yards.
Our first goal for a month not surprisingly filled the players with confidence, particularly Roberts who created some space for a shot from 20 yards which went wide.
But the front-man was at fault when Crawley were pegged back in the 29th minute.
He lost possession on the halfway line to Lee Evans who got past Joe McNerney to cross from the left. The centre took a deflection off Mark Connolly’s boot and sat up perfectly for Toney to volley past a helpless Glenn Morris from eight yards.
Reds were nearly caught out in the 37th minute when Camara gave away a free kick on the edge of the Wigan box. Bruce played it quickly to Nick Powell whose neat footwork took him past two challenges and in on Morris, but with the home fans about to acclaim a goal the ball slipped just past the far post – to the relief of the visiting fans behind the goal.
Gavin Massey flashed a shot into the side netting as Wigan, playing the tidy football you’d expect from a side at the top-end of League One, probed for a second before the break.
Roberts was brought down by Bruce just outside the box at the other end but Jimmy Smith’s disappointing free kick had neither the pace or direction to trouble Wigan keeper Matija Sarkic, although the keeper had to have his wits about him on the stroke of half-time when Young’s cross turned into a shot which drifted just over his far post.
Toney was denied by the bar on 54 minutes as Wigan took control at the start of the second half. Powell and Roberts combined and Toney cut inside to create space only to see his right-foot effort from ten yards shudder the bar with Morris beaten.
Roberts was withdrawn on the hour for Thomas Verheydt before Reds squandered a glorious chance in the 66th minute. Breaking quickly, Dannie Bulman found Jimmy Smith on the left and his cross picked out an unmarked Enzio Boldewijn six yards out but the Dutchman headed tamely straight at Sarkic.
Reds were made to pay for that miss five minutes later when Wigan took the lead. There seemed little danger when Evans picked up possession 30 yards out, but after taking a touch he unleashed a powerful left-foot shot that flew past Morris. It was a goal to rival Roberts’ effort in terms of its quality.
Aryan Tajbakhsh and Billy Clifford came on in the closing stages as Reds, with nothing to lose, pushed for an equaliser. But Sarkic was rarely tested and it’s Wigan who will take their place in Monday’s second-round draw.
Reds (4-4-2): Morris; Lelan, McNerney, Connolly, Doherty (sub: Clifford 79); Young, Bulman (sub: Tajbakhsh 73), Smith, Boldewijn; Camara, Roberts (Verheydt 60). Unused subs: Mersin, Lewis, Payne.
Attendance: 3,288 (157 away)
Picture: Lewis Young congratulates Jordan Roberts after his stunning volley put Reds in front at Wigan (Photo by James Boardman)