Reds suffered their first defeat under new Head Coach Gabrielle Cioffi as they went down to a 1-0 defeat on a wet afternoon in Gloucestershire.
Striker Reuben Reid, a player Harry Kewell was keen on signing last season, maintained the home side’s unbeaten League 2 record with the only goal in the 70th minute.
And to add insult to injury, Joe McNerney – an early replacement for the injured Mark Connolly – was sent off in stoppage time after picking up two bookings.
Crawley had started well with Ollie Palmer and Filipe Morais going close but Forest Green worked their way back into the game and it was no surprise when Reid broke the deadlock.
The big striker had his back to goal but turned Bondz N’Gala and his shot took a slight deflection but had enough power to beat Glenn Morris.
The hosts were convinced they had scored 11 minutes earlier when Tahvon Campbell poked the ball through Morris’s legs, but the keeper recovered to hack the ball off the line and the referee ruled it had not crossed the line.
Unchanged Reds began brightly and on-loan Brighton keeper Robert Sanchez was called into a double save in the seventh minute, denying first Ollie Palmer and then George Francomb.
Reds zipped the ball on the wet pitch nicely in the early stages and looked in control but the home side gradually worked their way back into things.
Lloyd James, who had a brief loan spell with Crawley during the 2011-12 season, had three efforts at goal in the space of 14 minutes but couldn’t get any of them on target with the dangerous Reid setting him up on two occasions.
Campbell was first to threaten in the second half with a shot on the turn then Morris was twice called into action, denying Carl Winchester and Reece Brown.
The pressure was building and when Reid scored it was no more than the home side deserved, although Luke Gambin had forced Sanchez into a decent save a few moments earlier when Reds counter-attacked and the substitute, getting his first taste of action since joining from Luton, tried to pick his spot from the edge of the box.
Reid’s goal prompted a spirited response from Reds and they came closest to an equaliser in the 87th minute when, after forcing a couple of corners, N’Gala got a touch in the six-yard box but Sanchez did enough to touch it over the bar.
Morris made a brilliant late save to deny Joe Mills when the home side broke before McNerney, booked in the first half, picked up a second yellow for bringing down former Fulham midfielder George Williams in the centre circle.
It was a disappointing afternoon for the 147 Reds fans but Cioffi will look to get things back on track next Saturday at home to Yeovil.
Crawley Town: Morris; Francomb, Connolly (McNerney 13 5), N’Gaya 6, Maguire 5; Young 5, Morais 6, Bulman 5 (Gambin 53 4), Nathaniel-George 5 (Poleon 79 4); Camara 5; Palmer 6. Subs: Mersin, Doherty, Payne.
Pictured: Glenn Morris makes a save during the second-half. Photo by James Boardman, Telephoto Images