It was FA Cup heartbreak for Crawley at the Broadfield Stadium after they staged a dramatic two-goal comeback before being overpowered by four extra-time Southend goals in the first round replay.
Two goals from talisman Ollie Palmer cancelled out a Josh Doherty own goal and a close-range effort from Harry Bunn in normal time, but it was two strikes from Simon Cox and John White in the opening moments of extra-time which handed Southend the initiative.
The lead was dramatically extended in the closing stages by Sam Mantom and Stephen McLaughlin making the scoreline a somewhat harsh - as far as Reds were concerned - 6-2.
Reds had started well. Ollie Palmer worked his way into the box with some beautiful skill before drilling low into the feet of Southend defender White who cleared frantically to concede Crawley’s first corner of the game. Then Luke Gambin looped an inviting ball onto Palmer’s head but his effort was well saved by Mark Oxley in the Southend net.
After a flurry of Crawley possession and danger, Southend opened the scoring when Bunn’s floated cross was deflected off Doherty in the 18th minute under pressure from Simon Cox.
Southend doubled their lead on 31 minutes when Cox towered above the Crawley defence to power a header goalwards. Glenn Morris did brilliantly to parry but the ball was pushed out to Bunn who only needed to tap into an empty net for 2-0.
Cox then had some of the Southend supporters thinking he had scored a third as he got on the end of a McLaughlin pass before firing low into the side-netting. Minutes later Doherty burst forward with an audacious chipped effort which floated onto the roof of the net, but Reds were up against it at the break.
At half-time George Francomb was replaced by Ashley Nathaniel-George as Gabriele Cioffi attempted to get the hosts back into the game.
Cox went close again before Crawley went down the other end in an attack led by Lewis Young who played the ball to Filipe Morais. The skipper floated a cross into the box which fell kindly for top scorer Palmer who volleyed home from 12 yards to make it 2-1.
Crawley pulled the game level at 2-2 after 69 minutes. Palmer utilised his strength and skill to feint past the Southend centre-halves before slotting calmly past Mark Oxley after taking Doherty's slide-rule pass into his path.
Palmer nearly won it with three minutes left when a high ball was well controlled by the striker who hit a powerful effort wide after a deflection.
So 2-2 after 90 minutes but within seven minutes of extra time starting Southend were in charge.
In the 92nd minutes Cox fired low inside the box, his shot deflecting off of Morris and Connolly before rolling into the net, to make it 3-2.
Minutes later Palmer burst forward following a long ball and sent a curling effort into the side netting. Following this, Southend were awarded a free-kick in a dangerous position after a late challenge by Connolly. The ball was floated in from the right to skipper White who smashed it home on the volley to make it 4-2.
Mantom drilled home Southend's fifth early in the second period of extra time but the goal of the night was Southend's sixth as McLaughlin curled a superb effort past Morris from the right-hand side of the box.
Crawley Town: Morris; Young, N’Gala, Connolly, Francomb (Nathaniel-George 46’), Doherty; Payne (Poleon 110’), Morais, Camara; Gambin (Grego-Cox 83’), Palmer.
Picture: Ollie Palmer celebrates after making it 2-2. Photo by James Boardman