Cheltenham Town's seven-match unbeaten run came to an end on a frustrating afternoon at the People's Pension Stadium.
But the Robins can count themselves unlucky to not come away from this encounter with at least a share of the spoils.
In the end, Ollie Palmer's soft first half penalty settled a match of few clear cut chances on a chilly afternoon in West Sussex.
It wasn't a bad performance by any means but on the day, Michael Duff's side lacked a little bit of quality to convert their promising play into goals.
The Robins enjoyed the lion's share of possession in the first half but it was the home side that carried the lead into the break thanks to Ollie Palmer's spot kick.
The day was further marred by a nasty looking injury to Nigel Atangana, who was carried off on a stretcher 15 minutes from time after an innocuous incident inside the Crawley penalty area.
Duff made two changes to the side that thrashed Yeovil Town on New Year's Day.
Defender Cameron Pring was handed his full debut for the club after arriving on loan earlier in the week.
The former Academy development player operated at left wing back with Chris Hussey dropping into the three-man defence in the absence of Johnny Mullins, who was injured at Huish Park five days ago.
Meanwhile in attack, former Crawley Town striker Tyrone Barnett came in at the expense of Luke Varney.
The experienced striker dropped to the bench alongside George Lloyd (recalled from Hereford) and fit again Ryan Broom.
The Robins made a lively start and forced the home into all the early defending although it was Scott Flinders who was eventually called into the first save of the afternoon, dropping down to save from Dominic Poleon.
But Duff's side went on to continue their promising opening to the match and created a string of decent chances, but frustratingly they found themselves behind at the interval.
Jacob Maddox saw his effort held with 20 minutes on the clock, meeting Hussey's cross from the left with a firm enough header but straight at goalkeeper Glenn Morris.
Jordon Forster and Barnett connected with a pair of long Ben Tozer throws, but the first was comfortably caught while the second dropped wide.
Next some nimble play by Alex Addai carved an opening down the left but the striker's end product flew well over the target. Then Maddox blasted over from distance.
But for all their good play before the break, it was Crawley that took the lead with 39 minutes on the clock after Forster was adjudged to have handled the ball as a long ball dropped to Palmer in the box.
The striker took the spot kick himself, sending it down the middle to beat Finders diving to his left.
There was a final chance for Addai, a terrific one after Barnett had sent a ball down the line for the pace striker to match on to.
However his final effort was wild, dragging it well wide of the target.
There were fewer chances after the turnaround and Maddox notched the Robins' first effort, turning and releasing a strike that flew wide of the right post
Poleon had a couple of his own, narrowly missing the left upright with the first while the second was held by Flinders.
Duff sent on Varney (for Addai) and Broom (Maddox) with 27 minutes remaining but his plans were hampered by an injury to Atangana five minutes later, who went down after turning inside the Crawley box and required lengthy treatment.
Kevin Dawson was pressed into action in the closing stages and shortly afterwards, Broom was presented with a great chance 10 minutes from time but the Welshman smashed his angled effort wide of the near post.
Tozer was also denied in the closing stages, Morris tipping over the centre half's header on an ultimately frustrating afternoon for Michael Duff and his side.
CRAWLEY TOWN (3-5-2): Morris (Gk); Francomb, Connolly, Maguire; Sesay (Young 66), Gambin, Payne (c) (Bulman 86), Camara, Doherty; Palmer, Poleon (Grego-Cox 80). Subs not used: Mersin (Gk), Nathaniel-George, N'Gala.
CHELTENHAM TOWN (3-5-2): Flinders; Forster, Tozer (c), Hussey; Thomas, Clements, Maddox (Broom 63), Atangana (Dawson 72), Pring; Barnett, Addai (Varney 63). Subs not used: Lovett (Gk), Bower, Lloyd, Alcock.
REFEREE: C Sarginson
ATTENDANCE: 2,623 (216 from Cheltenham)