Reds’ wait for a League 2 win goes on after late controversy saw high-flying Exeter leave The People’s Pension Stadium with all three points.
The Reds showed resilience in the first half to keep out a dominant Exeter side, for whom Lee Martin and Nicky Law went very close, but it was a much better second-half display from Crawley who grew into the game.
However, a big penalty shout was waved away when Tom Dallison was chopped down in the box from behind, with nothing being awarded by referee Trevor Kettle. Exeter then broke down to the other end and got the breakthrough from a corner, with Grecians captain Dean Moxey sliding in at the far post to secure all three points for the visitors.
Crawley made two changes from last Saturday’s draw with Morecambe, as George Francomb and Ollie Palmer came in for the suspended Reece Grego-Cox and Dannie Bulman. It was Palmer and Francomb’s first League start since September when we drew 2-2 at Northampton.
Exeter threatened early on when a ball fell fortunately to Martin who thumped his shot against the frame of the goal. Reds grew into the game and came close when Bez Lubala picked the ball up in the box, before shifting inside and bending the ball narrowly wide.
The Grecians nearly took a deserved lead when Randell Williams darted down the right side before spinning a low cross into an unmarked Nicky Law, who took too long on the ball enabling Glenn Morris to quickly come off his line to pull off an excellent reaction save.
The Reds had the first big chance of the second half when Panutche Camara Ollie Palmer in the box. The striker laid the ball off to Nathan Ferguson on the edge of the box, but his first-time effort was deflected just wide of the Exeter goal, before Reds went desperately close again when a Crawley corner found Dallison unmarked, but he could only head the ball down and onto the post.
Then came the turning point as Dallison was taken down inside the box but neither referee Kettle or his stand-side assistant could see anything wrong with the challenge.
And moments later Exeter led on 81 minutes when a corner came all the way through to the back post, and Moxey was able to guide the ball in on the stretch.
The Grecians almost doubled their lead when Williams fizzed in a low cross which Ben Seymour got a slight touch on, guiding the ball across the face of Crawley’s goal. A frustrated home side would unsuccessfully probe for an equaliser and this defeat sent them down a place to 17th in the table.
Crawley Town: Morris, Young, Dallison, Palmer, Nadesan, Ferguson (Nathaniel-George 83), Francomb, Sesay, Tunnicliffe, Camara, Lubala
Attendance: 2170 (447 Exeter City)
Main picture: Tom Dallison goes down under this challenge - but no penalty was given. Photo by James Boardman