Matt Harrold’s 35th minute goal clinched a 1-0 victory against Cambridge.
Played out in windy and rain-wept conditions, it was not a game for the purists.
But in a match of few chances from either side, Reds deserved to beat an in-form Unitd side to gain their seventh win in eight home matches.
New signing George Smith went straight into Reds’ starting line-up having been signed this morning on loan from Barnsley.
He was one of five changes made by Mark Yates as Ross Jenkins was given his first start since October 3.
Jon Ashton and Lee Barnard came in and Gavin Tomlin made his first start of the season.
They replaced Mitch Hancox (loan ended), Luke Rooney, Roarie Deacon and injured duo Jimmy Smith and Josh Yorwerth.
Cambridge made three changes, with Will Norris making his debut in goal having returned from a loan, right back Darnel Furlong starting a loan from QPR and striker Rory Gaffney coming back from being loaned out at Bristol Rovers.
Crawley had the first chance in a slow-starting cagey opening period as Matt Harrold laid off to Gavin Tomlin to shoot from just outside the area but presented an easy save for keeper Will Norris.
The Reds continued to press forward and George Smith’s corner was only partly cleared and Simon Walton had a go from the edge of the area but sliced his chance well wide of the goal with his left foot.
Crawley keeper Darryl Flahavan was brought into action and acted smartly to save from the feet of Gaffney who was through on goal.
Harrold gave Crawley the lead in the 35th minute from close-range as Barnard found him with a cross.
Crawley continued to press forward in the closing stages of the first half as Gwion Edwards forced a good save by Norris from a free-kick taken from 25 yards out on the left.
Barnard then went close from the right with another free-kick taken from the right.
Cambridge were fastest out of the blocks at the start of the second half with Luke Berry volleying against the post from long-range.
Barnard combined with Smith who forced Norris to make a save.
Harrold help up play well in attack but was brought down in one move, the referee waved play-on and Edwards curled a shot wide.
The wind and rain became worse as the second half unfolded, making it difficult for either side to create meaningful chances.
Cambridge brought on Robbie Simpson to replace Gaffney while Crawley fans saw Bobson Bawling for a rare run-out, replacing Tomlin.
Luke Rooney came on in added-time in place of Barnard as the game petered out amid heavy rain and horrible conditions and Reds saw out victory.
REDS: Flahavan, Walton, Bradley, Edwards, Barnard (Rooney 90), Young, Ashton, Harrold, Tomlin (Bawling 77), Jenkins, G.Smith
Unused subs: Preston, Fenelon, Deacon
CAMBRIDGE: Norris, Roberts, Legge, Berry, Corr, Dunk, Page, Gaffney (Simpson 76), Ledson, Newton, Furlong
Unused subs: Omozusi, Slew, Beasant, Coulson, Horne, Williams
REFEREE: Lee Swabey
ATTENDANCE: 2,320 (501 away)
MAN OF THE MATCH: Lewis Young
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