Colchester United opened the scoring with a fantastic long-rang effort from Callum Harriott that flew into the top corner, before Jordan Tunnicliffe's effort scrambled over the line meant the points were shared at the JobServe Community Stadium.
After last week's defeat on the road at Exeter City, Steve Ball made two changes to the starting eleven.
Tommy Smith and Harry Pell were sidelined, with Omar Sowunmi and Callum Harriott coming in to take their place. Tom Lapslie appeared among the substitutes for the firrst time this season, along with returns to the bench for Luke Gambin, Marley Marshall Miranda and Billy Cracknell.
Crawley came out a fast starting and attacking team, looking to get at the U's at every opportunity in the opening ten minutes. Nichols and Hessenthaler were picking passes towards Watters, but unable to really test Gerken in the opening exchanges.
But it was the U's that got themselves ahead early on in the game, as Callum Harriott fired a rocket into the top corner. He cut in from the right hand side and blasted an effort over Morris into the far top corner to give the U's the lead on thirteen minutes.
It was a lead that would last just seven minuted though as Jordan Tunnicliffe scrambled the ball in for an eqauliser. The ball wasn't cleared from the U's penalty area and Tunnicliffe was the man to turn the ball into the back of the net at the back post to make it 1-1.
The eqauliser for John Yems' men seemed to give them more confidence as the half drew on, as they pressed forwards to pressure Gerken's goal. The Red Devils went close with ten minutes left to play in the first half as Tsaroulla slid the ball over to Nadesan, but Sowunmi was there to block and clear.
The half finished in a scrappy fashion with a reckless challenge on Courtney Senior by Tony Craig who was booked for his troubles, with Cohen Bramall seeing a yellow card for his reaction to the challenge.
But no further goals were scored before the break as the half time whistle blew at 1-1.
Steve Ball's team came out much the better side for the first fifteen of the second half, almost retaking the lead with what would have been a fabulous goal.
Noah Chilvers started the move off in the middle of the field, cheekily taking the ball past a couple of Crawley players before spotting Cohen Bramall in space on the left side of the penalty area. Bramall looked up and pulled off a rabona to cross the ball to Harriott, only to see his effort saved by the fingertips of Glenn Morris.
And the U's kept pressing throughout the half, but unable to break the back line of Crawley Town, despite attacking changes of Norris and Folivi coming on in the second forty-five.
Again, Crawley grew in confidence as the half went on, and were denied brilliantly a few times in the final few moments.
Dean Gerken first stopped Nadesan who had been played in by Watters with a fine low save after closing down the Crawley forward quickly.
Norris went close for the U's with an effort on the turn that was deflected over before the visitors pushed forwards again, with Jack Powell testing Gerken as the game entered injury time by flicking the ball over the bar.
And Gerken wasn't finished with the heroics as Matthews was free and bearing down with just the 'keeper to beat, getting down speedily to his near post to stop the Crawely effort seconds before the full time whistle blew.
Next up for Colchester United is another home match, when we will be welcoming fans back to the JobServe Community Stadium against Grimsby on Saturday.
The 5.30pm kick-off sees the twelfth placed U's take on eighteenth placed Grimsby who were thumped 4-1 at home by Exeter City this evening.
Colchester United starting XI: Gerken, Welch-Hayes, Bramall, Sowunmi, Senior, Brown (Norris 74'), Harriott, Chilvers, Eastman, Poku (Folivi 69'), Stevenson (Lapslie 81').
Unused subs: George, Gambin, Marshall Miranda, Cracknell.
Crawley Town starting XI: Morris, Dallison, Powell, Nadesan, Nichols (Frost 67'), Sesay, Tunnicliffe, Criag, Hessenthaler, Watters (Ashford 87'), Tsaroulla (Matthews 67').
Unused subs: McNerney, German, Galach, Nelson.