Reds suffered heartbreak on the long trip to Oldham as Ollie Palmer missed a penalty before Sam Surridge won it for the Latics in the 89th minute of Saturday's Sky Bet League 2 tussle.
Palmer’s spot-kick midway through the first half was saved after Reds, who had fallen behind early on, drew level through midfielder Dannie Bulman.
After a tumultuous week at the club, caretaker player-managers Jimmy Smith and Filipe Morais named the side that beat Bury 3-2 last week. Mark Randall dropped out of the squad due to illness while Josh Payne served the second game of a three-match ban. Bondz N’Gala, one of three signings on Friday, was on the bench.
Smith volleyed wide in the second minute as Reds set a good tempo early on, although the midfielder then needed lengthy treatment for an injury to his right ankle but was able to continue.
It was the hosts who broke the deadlock, though, after eight minutes. Full back Rob Hunt exchanged passes with striker Gevaro Nepumaceno before the Italian scored for the second successive game.
Glenn Morris prevented Nepumanceno from scoring again when he produced a smart save in the 17th minute but just when it looked that Oldham were in control Reds levelled from an unfamiliar source in the 19th minute.
Ollie Palmer’s shot was pushed out by the home keeper and Bulman reacted quickest to steer home only the sixth goal of a Crawley career now spanning more than 350 appearances.
The visitors then squandered a great chance to go in front in the 33rd minute when they missed a penalty. Ashley Nathaniel-George was brought down by Christopher Missilou on the edge of the box and referee Salisbury pointed to the spot. Palmer hit the penalty firmly enough but keeper Dan Iversen dived the right way and kept it out with a fine save.
The first period of the second half was very scrappy and it wasn’t until an hour before either side threatened again when Dominic Poleon’s cross found Palmer, but his header was too close to Iversen.
The striker, desperate to make amends for his penalty miss, went closer ten minutes later when Nathaniel-George picked him out and his goalbound effort was blocked by George Edmundson.
Oldham ramped up the pressure in the closing stages and Morris saved well from Lang’s header in the 74th minute before Palmer missed a golden opportunity to score. Morais ran at the home defence before finding the striker in space but Iversen was equal to his shot and made a good save.
Lang had the ball in the net but was denied by the offside flag before Oldham grabbed an 89th minute winner. Josh Docherty conceded a free kick which Oldham recycled and when Edmundson put the ball back into the six-yard box the last touch came off Surridge, the Latics’ striker who is on loan from Bournemouth.
Reds pushed forward in six minutes of stoppage time but it is now four visits to Boundary Park for Crawley and they have yet to get a win.
Reds: Morris; Francomb, Connolly, Vincelot (N’Gala 22), Docherty; Nathaniel-George, Morais, Bulman, Morais; Poleon (Camara 72), Palmer. Unused subs: Young, Mersin, Grego-Cox, Allarakhia.
Attendance: 4160 (62 away)
Picture: Ashley Nathaniel-George takes a tumble but Reds missed the resultant penalty (Photo: James Boardman)