Reds suffered more disappointment on the road after a late goal from Liam Mandeville condemned them to defeat at the Globe Arena.
The Shrimps’ sub rose to head home a right-wing cross from Zac Mills with ten minutes left – and leave Crawley to once again reflect on their failure to turn some great openings into goals, especially in the first half.
Reece Grego-Cox hit the bar and other opportunities were spurned before the break. The second half saw neither side create much but Morecambe got stronger as the game wore on and Mandeville’s goal means Reds now drop to 20th in the table with the cushion between us and the bottom two reduced to seven points.
Head Coach Gabriele Cioffi made three changes, one enforced after Matty Willock joined a growing injury list. Filipe Morais, Joe Maguire and Ashley Nathaniel-George came back into the side and the Italian switched to 4-4-2. David Sesay and Bondz N’Gala dropped to the bench with George Francomb also among the subs after recovering from illness.
Nathaniel-George was in the action from the start. A fifth-minute cross was headed over by Joe McNerney then Reds broke down the right through Morais and Panutche Camara to set up a shooting opportunity for Lewis Young, which he stabbed straight at Barry Roche.
Aaron Collins twice threatened at the other end. He burst past McNerney in the 16th minute but Tom Dallison got across to make a vital interception. Midway through the half Glenn Morris saved his header and Reds broke quickly, Nathaniel-George cutting in from the left and getting off a shot which Roche saved well.
Reds continued to look threatening down the left. Nathaniel-George found the over-lapping Joe Maguire and his cross was headed wide by Palmer before Reds came so close to breaking the deadlock in the 33rd minute. Maguire’s cross was headed back into the danger zone by Palmer and Grego-Cox went for the spectacular, but his overhead kick struck the bar with Roche beaten.
Palmer, on the stretch, couldn’t quite wrap his foot around Morais’s inviting cross and Reds’ top scorer had a better chance just before the break when a turn inside the box opened up space for a shot well saved by Roche. At the other end, Richie Bennett saw an effort saved at his near post by Morris.
Reds ended the half unfortunate not to be in front, but the second half was a much scrappier affair with little quality from either side.
Maguire shot wide on the hour after Morais and Young had switched play from right to left before Cioffi made two quick changes with David Sesay and George Francomb coming on.
Francomb was soon involved. A goalbound shot on 73 minutes was inadvertently blocked by Tom Dallison then three minutes later he fired well wide after good work by Sesay.
Mandeville fired a warning shot in the 79th minute when Morris got down well to make a save, but two minutes later he struck. Neither Sesay or Maguire could prevent Mills from picking out Mandeville 10 yards out with his cross and the striker got above Young to power a head inside the left-hand post with Morris helpless.
Ricardo German came on for the last seven minutes, but Reds had no response and now need to regroup ahead of a very important home game against Forest Green Rovers next Saturday.
Reds: Morris; Young, McNerney, Dallison, Maguire; Morais (German 83), Bulman, Camara (Francomb 72), Nathaniel-George (Sesay 64); Grego-Cox, Palmer. Subs: Mersin, Poleon, N’Gala.
Attendance: 2445 (47 Crawley)
Picture: Tom Dallison attacks a set-piece against Morecambe. Photo by Richard Parkes