Reds fell to a 3-1 defeat to Colchester United on Saturday afternoon after conceding three first half goals on a frustrating afternoon in Essex.
The hosts were clinical in the first half as goals from Sammie Szmodics, Ryan Jackson and Mikael Mandron gave them a commanding lead at the break.
Mark Randall missed a spot-kick shortly after the restart on his return to the team before Jimmy Smith, who scored a hat-trick in the corresponding game last season, did pull one back when he poked home from a corner with just over 20 minutes remaining.
It set his side up for a late push, but Harry Kewell's men couldn't claw back the earlier deficit.
There was one change from the side that beat Yeovil Town 2-0 last week, with Randall replacing Jordan Roberts, who was injured.
Crawley had begun the game well and moved the ball around neatly in the opening exchanges.
But it was the hosts took the lead on nine minutes when Sammie Szmodics fired home from a volley at the back post.
The hosts doubled their lead five minutes later when Ryan Jackson bombed forward down the right before rifling a powerful shot past Glenn Morris in the visiting goal.
Kewell’s men were struggling to get going and their main threat came from set pieces, with Dean Cox and Randall whipping in some good deliveries.
But Colchester made it 3-0 seven minutes before the break when Mikael Mandron nodded home at the back post from close range to give them a comfortable advantage.
The Reds had a big chance to go into the break on the scoresheet when Panutche Camara broke into the box and squared to Enzio Boldewijn but he was unable to scramble the ball home as two defenders make important blocks.
Kewell made two changes at the break, replacing Camara and Cedric Evina with Dennon Lewis and Ibrahim Meite.
The U's threatened to add a fourth when Ryan Innis leapt highest in the box to power a header at goal, but Morris was equal to it.
Lewis almost made an immediate impact, as he cut inside from the right flank and shot from distance with his left foot, forcing the keeper to tip the ball wide for a corner.
The Reds then had a chance to pull one back when Josh Yorwerth was dragged down by Innis from the resulting corner and the referee pointed to the spot.
Randall stepped up to take the penalty, but his effort was saved by Sam Walker.
With just over 25 minutes left to go Josh Doherty came on to make his debut in place of Randall.
Moments later the visitors did pull one back, something which their second half showing had deserved when Smith stabbed home a volley in the six-yard box from a corner.
The goal sparked the visiting side into life and Smith had two great chances to find the net again.
First Boldewijn danced through the box and squared the ball to the midfielder who tried to fire back across goal but the keeper saved well.
Moments later the captain found himself in on goal once more, but Walker got out well to smother the effort from the left-hand side of the area.
Smith was involved again soon after in the closing stages of the game when he drove a great ball out wide to Cox. The wide-man controlled and fizzed a dangerous delivery across the six yard box, but it somehow evaded three red shirts and that was to be the side's last chance of an afternoon when Crawley only go going in the second half.
Reds: Morris, Young, Lelan, Yorwerth, Evina (Lewis, 45), Bulman, Smith, Randall (Doherty, 63), Boldewijn, Camara (Meite, 45), Cox.
Subs not used: Mersin, McNerney, Djalo, Tajbakhsh.