Colchester United fell to a rare home defeat on Tuesday night, as a Jimmy Smith hat-trick saw Crawley take all three points at the Weston Homes Community Stadium.
The U's have now faced the Reds nine times in League and Cup competitions and are yet to win against the Sussex side.
It started so well for the U's with Denny Johnstone getting a deserved goal to put them in front, but Smith's treble put Crawley in command before Brennan Dickenson's late free kick closed the gap.
Other results went in the U's favour and they will go to Accrington on Saturday, looking to bounce back and keep pace with the play-off spots.
The U's started brightly and took a deserved lead - and for the third game in a row that goal came in the eighteenth minute.
However, the lead lasted just five minutes and it was the first of a memorable evening for former Chelsea midfielder Smith.
He got up highest to meet a Dean Cox corner and power home a header.
And Town got their noses in front ten minutes later. The ball was crossed to the right and nodded back into the path of Smith, who smashed home a fine shot into the top corner beyond the dive of Walker.
The U's pressed as the half wore to a close, but they were not able to test Morris again before the half time whistle.
They would have hoped to come out on the front foot after the break and again started brightly - but again conceded to take the game further away from them.
Smith found himself in a shooting position on the edge of the box and his shot crept past Walker to complete his hat-trick.
That took the wind out of the U's sails and, whilst they prompted and probed, a now solid Crawley side were happy to hit on the counter for the remainder of the game.
The U's got their momentum back in the final fifteen minutes but found themselves repelled by the Crawley numbers across their area.
With Rekeil Pyke and Charley Edge making their U's debuts, the U's were given late hope by Brennan Dickenson's free kick which curled in past Morris at the start of eight minutes of injury time, after the referee had to be replaced.
The U's loaded balls into the box and had one goal mouth scramble that just couldn't be forced home deep into those additional minutes.
Crawley held on and continued their edge over the U's - John McGreal's men now go to Accrington, looking to bounce back.