Carlisle United had all three points snatched from their hands late in the day on Saturday afternoon as a heavy touch allowed substitute Billy Clarke to race clear and break Cumbrian hearts with a crisp effort which earned his side their first point in four games.
The Cumbrians dominated the early possession and a reverse pass from Robson, as he cut in from the left, almost put Guy through on goal. He allowed the ball to run across his body but Connolly got just enough on it to stop the striker in his tracks.
David Amoo then had s shot blocked as he joined the attack from midfield and it became frustrating for the home side as Crawley held their shape and continued to make their blocks.
The Reds attacked in numbers to create the first real chance of the day when Josh Simpson and Mike Jones combined to leave Drury with a clear sight of the target. The angle was tight and he was disappointed to send a powerful drive into the side netting.
United countered with their own decent passage of play when Amoo charged a Sadler clearance down on the right. His burst through the back line earned a corner and he rose highest to meet the Robson delivery as it flew into the box. Paul Jones watched in relief as it spun harmlessly wide.
Hard working midfield play left attempts on goal few and far between for the remainder of the half but the visitors went close to a breakthrough when Sinclair and Bennett combined on the edge of the area in time added on. Dannie Bulman tried to step in and his involvement earned a rebuke as he got in the way of what would have been a clear opening.
The Cumrbians came out of the blocks at full pace following the half time break and a run from his own half from Prince Buaben lifted the crowd as he took matters into his own hands. He kept his head over the ball and let one fly as he came into shooting range and Paul Jones had to push the rasping effort over the bar.
A deep corner from Robson followed and Joe Walsh had few complaints as his clumsy challenge on Max Ehmer brought an instant penalty decision. Liam Noble bagged his third of the season with another crunching spot kick finish as Jones danced around on his line to try and put him off.
The Reds were rocked and another winding run from Buaben had three defenders mesmerised and lost in space. He bullied his way into the box and was unlucky to see his well hit grass cutter rattle away off the outside of the post.
Buaben was once more the heartbeat of an attack when he picked a curling pass for Townsend to meet. A low delivery from the left back had Amoo scampering for the near post and his instinctive diving volley edged just wide of the upright.
A triple substitution from Richie Barker added some much needed impetus to a flat Crawley display and Ben Amos raised appreciative applause when he sprinted off his line to deal with a nod down from Clarke. Alexander wanted it but the big keeper sprang forward to beat it away just in the nick of time.
Crawley got forward with more purpose but good handling from the new keeper and timely clearances from McSweeney and O’Hanlon prevented replacement Gary Alexander from applying any finishing touches.
Clarke popped a header wide and Proctor scuffed a chance over the bar as half chances came and went but the pace of the game dipped until a heavy touch from McSweeney allowed substitute Billy Clarke to burst through on the right.
His shot had purpose and it appeared to fly through an attempted grasp from Ben Amos as he followed the flight of the ball. It was silence and disappointment all round as it swirled and dipped its way into the back of the net to give Crawley their first point and first goal from their last five outings.
United - Noble (47 pen)
Crawley - Clarke (88)
Crawley - Hurst (56)
Carlisle United - Amos, McSweeney, O'Hanlon, Ehmer, Townsend, Thirlwell, Noble, Buaben (Berrett 82), Amoo, Guy (Beck 71), Robson. Subs - Fleming, Chantler, Livesey, Potts, Symington.
Crawley Town - P Jones, Hurst, Sadler, Connolly, Drury, Simpson (Clarke 62), Walsh, Bulman, Sinclair (Alexander 62), M Jones (Proctor 62), Bennett. Subs - McFadzean, Essam, Torres, Maddison.
Referee - Mr Tony Harrington
Attendance - 3,675 (133 away fans)