Jordan Roberts came off the bench to score twice as Reds produced one of their best performances of the season to beat high-flying Exeter.
Crawley trailed to Dean Moxey’s first-half goal for only nine minutes. Josh Payne levelled from the penalty spot in the 33rd minute and Reds dominated the second half.
Roberts, who came on in the 54th minute, put Crawley in front from close range before scoring a superb free-kick from the right-hand corner of the box for his sixth goal of the season to seal the second home win of the campaign.
It was the first time Crawley had come from behind to win a League game at the Checkatrade since they beat Luton in October 2015.
Reds certainly didn’t look like a side without a league win in six as they took the game to Exeter in the early stages.
The experienced trio of Payne, Dannie Bulman and Mark Randall – who was making his first League start since September 16 – took an early grip on midfield with Randall testing keeper Christy Pym in the 14th minute after good play by Payne.
An encouraging start should have been rewarded in the 19th minute when Lewis Young robbed left back Craig Woodman to find Thomas Verheydt, but the Dutchman side-footed wide from ten yards with only Pym to beat.
Josh Yorwerth then dragged a shot wide but when the opening goal came it was at the other end as Exeter converted their first decent chance.
Even then there was an element of fortune about Moxey’s 24th-minute goal. Kyle Edwards did well down the right to find Reuben Reid in the box. His effort was going wide but Moxey arrived at the far post to steer the ball past Glenn Morris.
Reds needed to respond quickly and they did, levelling from the penalty spot in the 33rd minute. Yorwerth was fouled by Woodman as he attacked a corner and referee Andy Haines pointed to the spot. Payne stepped up to sweep the ball past Pym inside the left-hand post.
It had been an entertaining first third and before the break both sides wasted good chances to score. Reid got clear but Mark Connolly made enough ground to deflect his shot wide before Pym bravely blocked Boldewijn’s shot after the Dutchman had been played in by a great pass from Bulman.
There was a good tempo to the early second-half exchanges too. Boldewijn drove a shot over after running onto Randall’s pass, by which time Jordan Roberts had replaced Verheydt in Reds’ first change.
Pym then failed to gather Cedric Evina’s cross, Panutche stabbed it goalwards but a defender cleared it from in front of goal. The pressure was mounting and on the hour Reds had the lead. Bulman and Payne linked up well to create some space for Evina, whose low left-wing cross took a deflection off Pym and Roberts swept it inside the right-hand post from close range.
Boldewijn was frustrated again midway through the half. Sent clear by Payne’s pass, he bore down on goal from the left-hand side but fired over Pym’s bar. The Exeter keeper then got down low to make a save from Payne’s low drive before Yorwerth flicked Randall’s free kick goalwards but Moxey made a superb headed clearance off the line.
Moxey was involved again ten minutes from time when he fouled Roberts on the left-hand corner of the box. He was booked and Roberts stepped up to curl a superb free-kick inside Pym’s right-hand post to make it 3-1.
Skipper Morris had been a virtual spectator for much of the second half but he earned his corn in the 88th minute, spreading himself well to block a shot from Liam McAlinden, the former Reds’ loanee.
Reds negotiated five minutes of stoppage time and nearly added a fourth in the last minute when Ibrahim Meite raced clear but fired just the wrong side of the left-hand post. No matter. Reds had won in front of the Checkatrade faithful for only the third time in 2017.
Crawley Town: Morris; Young, Connolly, Yorwerth, Evina; Randall (Meite 78), Bulman, Payne; Boldewijn (sub: Lewis 80), Camara; Verheydt (Roberts 54).
Man of the match (chosen by Checkatrade): Enzio Boldewijn