An 89th minute goal ended Crawley’s hopes of earning a plucky point away to highflying Plymouth.
In a first half of few real chances, Plymouth took the lead just two minutes before half-time through Reubin Reid.
Crawley staged a late fight back with five minutes to go when substitute Roarie Deacon scored a dramatic equaliser.
But the Reds switched off when defending a free-kick and former Crawley loanee Hiram Boateng scored again for the Pilgrims with just one minute left to play.
Crawley’s new loan signing from Birmingham City Mitch Hancox went straight into the starting line-up.
He took the place of place of Christian Scales at left back who was not in the squad in the only change to the side which won 3-0 at Newport County on Tuesday night.
Luke Rooney returned to the squad following his one-match ban and was on the bench.
Plymouth also made just one change with Carl McHugh being preferred to former Reds skipper Josh Simpson who was among their substitutes.
Crawley had the first chance in the 11th minute when Rhys Murphy had a go at goal from outside the area but the shot flew side over the bar.
Plymouth responded with a long-range attempt from a tight angle from Graham Carey which was wide of the target.
As the Pilgrims continued to press forward, Jake Jervis took a shot which was blocked by the Reds defence.
Crawley keeper Freddie Woodman denied Boateng from outside the area to keep the home side at bay.
Plymouth had the majority of the possession and had a few attempts at the Crawley end towards the end of the first half.
Carl McHugh and Gregg Wylde both shot off-target before Woodman caught a header by Reid from the centre of the box.
Plymouth took the lead just two minutes before half-time when Carey played a ball down the middle for Reid to score from close-range.
Crawley went close to equalising just a minute later when Murphy fired from the centre of the box but was kept out by home keeper Luke McCormick.
In the second half Plymouth’s Gregg Wylde blasted a 30-yard shot straight at Woodman, who dealt with it comfortably.
Crawley had a few more chances themselves as Ross Jenkins was denied from outside the area by McCormick.
Reds’ two-hero from Tuesday night Gwion Edwards lifted an effort over the bar.
Murphy had a chance blocked and at the other end Kelvin Mellor lifted the ball over the bar.
Mark Yates made three substitutions as he looked for an equaliser, with Roarie Deacon coming on first for Lewis Young on the hour, Simon Walton repacing Jenkins and Shamir Fenelon coming on for Murphy.
Plymouth brought on Josh Simpson against his former club in the 72nd minute.
Crawley’s substitutions paid off as one just minutes after coming on the pitch, Deacon bundled the ball into the bottom right hand corner.
Walton’s free-kick was headed on-target by Josh Yorwerth which was then parried by McCormack into the path of Deacon who netted his third goal of the season.
Finally with the clock ticking down towards the end of normal time, Plymouth scored the winner.
A free-kick by Graham Carey was saved by Woodman but then Boateng, who was loaned to Crawley in 2013 by Crystal Palace, gobbled up on the rebound to send Crawley home from the West Country empty-handed.
REDS: Woodman, Bradley, Edwards, Smith, Young (Deacon 60), Harrold, Jenkins (Walton 69), Donnelly, Hancox, Yorwerth, Murphy (Fenelon 81).
Unused subs: Preston, Barnard, Rooney, Bawling
PLYMOUTH: McCormick, Mellor, Sawyer, McHugh, Nelson (capt), Hartley, Reid, Carey, Wylde (Brunt 84), Jervis (Simpson 72), Boateng.
Unused subs: T.Harvey, Purrington, Threlkeld, Tanner, C.Harvey
REFEREE: Stuart Attwell
Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking news where you live.
Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be amongst the first to know what’s going on.
1 Make this website your homepage
2 Like our Facebook page at facebook.com/pages/Sport-Sussex
3 Follow us on Twitter @SportSussex
4 Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.
And do share with your family and friends - so they don’t miss out!