Ollie Palmer scored twice against one of his former clubs as Reds returned to winning ways with a 2-1 success over Grimsby Town at The People’s Pension Stadium.
Ex-Red Wes Thomas volleyed the Mariners into a sixth-minute lead but within a minute both Matty Willock and Reece Grego-Cox hit the bar for Crawley.
Palmer equalised with a well-placed header from Lewis Young’s cross after 26 minutes and scored his 15th of the season ten minutes later with a low shot from ten yards after good work by Grego-Cox.
Grimsby’s goal lived a charmed life in the second half with Joe McNerney and Palmer denied by goal-line clearances. All the time it was only 2-1 Grimsby had hope with Crawley saw the game out to claim their first home win since January 5.
Grimsby started on the front foot, with the first shot on target coming from Thomas in the fifth minute. His effort was saved low by Glenn Morris after Kristian Dennis had shown good feet to find his team-mate.
Moments later Grimsby had the lead. A free kick 40 yards out was floated into the Crawley box and found the head of defender Ludvig Ohman, who headed the ball back across goal for Thomas to volley home.
Instead of allowing the away side to grow in confidence and press on, the Reds took control of the match. Moments after the opening goal Willock was inches away from grabbing the equaliser - only the crossbar to deny him. Cutting in on the edge of the box he rifled the ball towards goal but unfortunately the effort pinged off the crossbar.
De ja vu came a minute later with the crossbar coming in the way again. This time, Grego-Cox smashed the ball past James McKeown but the bar denied the midfielder his first goal for the club.
The pressure continued on the Grimsby defence as the home side enjoyed sustained possession in the opposition side of the pitch.
It took 26 minutes for Crawley to get back on level terms as Palmer headed home from a cracking cross, delivered by right back Young. Young was found in space on the right and managed to chip the ball up perfectly for the striker to head home. A deserved equaliser for Crawley.
Ollie Palmer celebrates after scoring our first goal
The rest of the first half saw more excellent play by the home side. Fantastic work by Panutche Camara found Dannie Bulman whose cross evaded everyone bar Willock. He brought it down but his effort ended up being comfortably saved by McKeown.
But it was 2-1 on 36 minutes. Receiving the ball in the box and with a defender on his back, Palmer shifted the ball and slotted low past McKeown from an angle on the right.
The second half started in similar fashion with the Reds on the front foot. Palmer could have easily had a penalty when he was brought down down in the box by Ohman but the referee saw the incident differently and waved play on.
Then Joe McNerney was on the end of a superb delivery by George Francomb and with plenty of space. Finding himself unmarked, McNerney had time to head on target but the goalkeeper parried it out to the defender whose second effort just cleared the bar.
Grimsby did manage to create a rare chance of their own through Jake Hessenthaler but his speculative effort went well over.
Crawley were inches away from extending their lead on 61 minutes when Ohman somehow managed to keep out a goal bound effort from Willock from under his own crossbar.
In the 69th minute Palmer, looking for that hat trick, was played through beautifully by Camara. It looked like for all the world that the striker was going to slot home his third but Ohman shows good desire to get back to put in a challenge and McKeown was able to smother.
Grimsby did finally manage to create a clear cut chance with Harry Clifton driving forward and getting a shot off. His effort was suberbrly blocked by Francomb and ended up out for a corner, which ultimately lead to nothing.
A change in the 75th minute saw Willock leave the pitch to be replaced by Filipe Morais. The substitution nearly has an instant impact with Morias whipping a dead ball free kick into the Grimsby box, causing total confusion amongst the visitors' defence. Somehow the ball ended up being cleared off the line.
Into the final ten minutes and Grimsby started to up the ante. Some sustained pressure resulted in a couple of corners for the away side but Reds stood firm.
In part thanks to a head injury to Lewis Young, the referee signalled six minutes of added time. The Reds continue to limit the away side but Grimsby came incredibly close to snatching a point in stoppage time only for Morris to make an impressive save to push away Hessenthaler's strike.
Reds negotiated the rest of added time and had come from behind to win for the first time this season.
Team: Morris; Francomb, McNerney, Dallison; Young, Bulman, Sesay; Camara, Willock (Morais 75), Grego-Cox (Meite 82), Palmer. Unused subs: Mersin, Payne, German, N'Gala.
Attendance: 2043 (412 away)
Pictured: Ollie Palmer heads home in the first half - Photo: James Boardman