Reds produced another superb home performance as they put third-placed Newport County to the sword at the Broadfield Stadium.
Joe Maguire’s first-minute goal – the first of his career – was no more than Crawley deserved after utterly dominating the opening half.
Newport predictably rallied and Jamille Matt equalised in the 59thminute.
But Filipe Morais restored the lead from the penalty spot three minutes later, Ollie Palmer headed in his eighth of the season and sub Ashley Nathaniel-George scored a sublime fourth all in the space of 16 breathless minutes as Reds sealed a fifth straight home win.
Newport’s afternoon went from bad to worse when Fraser Franks picked up a straight red late on.
The game exploded into life straight away. Newport immediately mounted an attack which ended with keeper Glenn Morris denying Antoine Semanyo inside 30 seconds.
Yet within a minute Reds were in front. Lewis Young galloped down the right and his cross was helped on by Ollie Palmer to Maguire, who steered his shot inside the left-hand upright.
That set the tone for a dominant first-half display by Reds who could – and probably should – have been out of sight by the break after they created chance after chance.
The best of them fell to Maguire in the 25thminute when Luke Gambin’s cross found him unmarked at the far post but Maguire headed wide from close range – a far easier chance than the one he scored.
Some of the football Reds played was superb and if it hadn’t been for keeper Joe Day Newport would have been out of the game.
He made saves from Young, Filipe Morais and Gambin while last-ditch blocks by the visitors frustrated Gambin and Morais, who nearly scored from a free kick whipped into the near post which was cleared for a corner.
Newport briefly threatened again when Semenyo outmuscled Young but fired into the side netting but the talk in the stands at the break was whether Reds would pay for their profligacy.
And they nearly did in the 47thminute when Padraig Amond met Josh Sheehan’s cross on the half volley but Morris instinctively parried his close-range effort.
Morris made a sprawling save when Matt muscles through on the left but Newport pressure was rewarded in the 59thminute when Matt turned well inside the box before the big striker fired low past Morris to make it 1-1.
On the overall balance of play it was slightly harsh on the hosts but four minutes later they were back in front. Palmer chased a seemingly lost cause in the box to put pressure on Mickey Demetriou and Dan Butler, who hauled him down inside the six-yard box. Referee Breakspear pointed to the spot and Morais sent Day the wrong way as he rolled the penalty into the bottom corner.
And Reds went 3-1 up in the 72ndminute. Gambin produced a superb cross from deep on the left and Palmerlost his marker at the far post and guided a close-range header past Day.
Reds immediately brought on Nathaniel-George and within six minutes the substitute had made a dramatic impact with a superb fourth goal. Fellow sub Josh Doherty won a tackle inside the Reds half and found Nathaniel-George who ran at the Newport defence before producing a wonderful curling finish inside the right-hand post.
Newport’s afternoon had turned into a nightmare in the space of 15 minutes and it got worse when Franks’ heavy challenge on Nathaniel-George was deemed worthy of a straight red.
Reds: Morris; Vincelot, Connolly, Francomb; Young, Payne, Camara, Morais, Maguire (Doherty 68); Gambin (Nathaniel-George 73), Palmer.
Attendance: 2197 (336 away)
Picture: Filipe Morais celebrates after putting Reds back in front from the penalty spot