Super sub Chuks Aneke grabbed the headlines and handed 10-man Crewe a much needed three points as they ended their eight match winless streak.
The winger had only been on the pitch a matter of seconds when he dipped low to head home Matt Tootle’s cross at the back-post in the 80th minute.
There had been few previous flash points in a match that lacked life and inspiration, with Crawley’s Jamie Proctor having the best chance of the first half when he crashed a shot against the bar.
The visitors were handed a one man advantage when Crewe’s Vadaine Oliver was sent off in the 55th minute.
The forward received two yellow cards, his first for a leading elbow, and the second for what looked like a clear dive.
But Crawley failed to take advantage, with Nicky Adams testing Neil Eitheridge and Matt Sadler having a shot cleared off the line.
And after Aneke’s whirlwind introduction, Adam Drury somehow headed over at the other end as Town extended their winless run to eight.