Crawley Town enjoyed a happy New Year when they defied the odds to beat fourth-placed Colchester United with only ten men.
Luke Gambin celebrated his return to the starting line-up with two well-taken second half goals.
Reds suffered a massive blow after 31 minutes of the first half when Joe McNerney was shown a straight red card for a dangerous tackle.
Crawley defended well for the remainder of the half and held the visitors at bay during the second half.
Gambin gave Reds the lead in the 61st minute as Crawley looked to gain a valuable win after having been winless in their previous five games.
Gambin sealed the three points when he scored again from a 90th minute free-kick.
This was given following the sending-off of Colchester’s Frankie Kent for fouling Panutche Camara, which was his second yellow card after he had his first offence in the 49th minute.
Gabriele Cioffi made one change to the side which drew 0-0 away to Newport County on Saturday with Luke Gambin replacing Dannie Bulman, who was on the bench.
Josh Payne wore the captain’s armband.
Colchester made two changes from their 0-0 draw at home to Morecambe with Harry Pell and Tom Eastman being preferred to Brennan Dickenson and Brandon Comley.
David Sesay had the first attempt on goal for either side with a powerful low drive which went behind goal from a tight angle.
Reds ‘keeper Glenn Morris was brought into action to deny Sammie Szmodic’s headed attempt.
Luke Norris continued the visitors’ bright start with a deflected shot which was caught by Morris, then the same player hit the crossbar following a cross by Ryan Jackson.
Crawley defender Joe McNerney had a chance to shoot in the opposition’s penalty area from Josh Doherty’s free-kick but lifted a the ball over the bar.
McNerney was sent-off for a tackle on Harry Pell, leaving Reds to play the final hour of the game with only ten men.
Panutche Camara made a great 40-yard run but the move ended in nothing as he was tackled by Frankie Kent.
Just before half-time Pell struck a well-hit effort which was stopped by Morris and then Crawley were denied at the other end when Camara’s shot was deflected by Gambin and ‘keeper Rene Gilmartin gathered the ball.
Colchester made a substitution at the start of the second half with Courtney Senior replacing Prosser.
Crawley managed to restrict Colchester to a couple of half-chances before taking the lead themselves in the 61st minute, despite having few player on pitch.
Luke Gambin made a run through the middle and launched a superb shot which flew into the net.
Colchester crossed into the area and appealed for a handball which was turned down by the referee.
Gambin went on the attack again and looked hungry for a second goal but his shot curled away wide of the post.
Gambin sealed an unlikely victory with his second goal of the game, scored in the 90th minute from a free-kick after Kent was red-carded for his second bookable offence.
Crawley Town: Morris, Doherty, Payne (capt) (Bulman 80), McNerney, Connolly, Grego-Cox, Poleon, Gambin, Francomb, Sesay, Camara
Unused subs: Mersin, Nathaniel-George, Maguire, Allarakhia, N’Gala
Colchester United: Gilmartin, Jackson, Lapslie (Mandron 46), Prosser (capt) (Senior 46), Kent, Pell, Norris, Szmodics, Eastman, Vincent-Young, Nouble
Unused subs: Barnes, Kensdale, Dickenson, Gondoh, Comley
Referee: Andy Davies
Attendance: 2,765 (456 away)
Man of the Match: Mark Connolly