Reds suffered more away-day misery as they went down 1-0 to promotion-chasing Mansfield at the One Call Stadium.
Crawley appeared to have chiselled out a hard-earned point with two minutes to go when Hayden White whipped over a cross from the right and Tyler Walker got in front of Mark Connolly to steer a low, hard shot inside the post.
Moments earlier it looked as if Ollie Palmer would win it for Reds. Put through by substitute Panutche Camara, his right-foot shot was superbly saved by Jordan Smith. Moments later the ball was in the net at the other end.
Although they lost, there were positives for Head Coach Gabriele Cioffi. Smith also made a crucial save from Dominic Poleon while Mark Connolly hit the bar in the first half.
Reds had made three changes to the side beaten at Stevenage on Saturday. Filipe Morais and Lewis Young were recalled while Tom Dallison made his first start since joining the club last week.
The Stags included ex-Reds loanee Nicky Ajose in their line-up after he joined from Charlton for the rest of the season and he nearly scored with his second touch. His first, from Jorge Grant’s pass, cushioned the ball and his angled strike was blocked with his legs by Glenn Morris.
But it was Reds who went closest in the first half. On 12 minutes Mark Connolly met Josh Payne’s free kick from deep on the left with a header on the stretch which thumped against the post.
That moment gave Crawley some confidence and for the next 20 minutes or so they gave as good as they got. Both sides played some nice stuff on a firm pitch without creating too much before Mansfield ended the half on top.
Morris made a good reflex save to deny the mercurial Grant before George Francomb got in a fine block to again deny Grant, after CJ Hamilton had created the chance on the right.
It wasn’t quite desperate defending from Crawley but they had to be on their mettle. There were first-half bookings for Dallison, Young and Payne – all for fouls.
Ajose should have opened his account for the hosts in the 52nd minute. Walker’s cross found him unmarked six yards out but he skied his shot over.
Both sides continued to defend well and when clear-cut chances were created the goalkeepers were in fine form. Morris tipped Jacob Mellis’s pile-driver from the edge of the box over the bar before Poleon went desperately close on 70 minutes. Found in space by a clever pass from Morais, the striker’s effort seemed to be heading for the top corner until Smith pushed it around the post.
Then in a dramatic finale came chances at both ends as Smith brilliantly denied Palmer before Walker got the one that counted.
Reds: Morris; Young (Sesay 82), Francomb, Connolly, Dallison, Maguire; Morais, Payne, Gambin (Camara 68); Poleon (Grego-Cox 90), Payne. Unused subs: Mersin, Bulman, Nathaniel-George.
Attendance: 3786 (24 Reds)
Pictured: Mark Connolly hits the post in the first half