Pools were undone by a second half goal from James Collins as Crawley Town recorded their fourth consecutive home win at The Checkatrade Stadium on Saturday.
The Red Devils’ top scorer was able to ghost in behind the visiting defence to nod the only goal of the game just after the hour mark to give the hosts the points.
Craig Hignett opted to make two changes to his starting eleven, with Josh Laurent and Lewis Alessandra restored to the side which once again lined-up in a 3-5-2 formation.
A tight first half was punctuated with only a handful of half chances, the first falling to the dangerous Enzio Boldewijn after Matthew Bates was caught in possession but his powerful drive was blocked by Liam Donnelly.
Perhaps the best opening fell to Billy Clifford who ran on to an intelligent knock down by Collins only to blaze his shot over the bar with the goal gaping.
Josh Laurent’s careless pass on the edge of the box provided Dean Cox with the chance to unleash a shot from twenty-five yards but Adam Bartlett got down quickly to his right to make a smart save.
Pools broke forward on the counter-attack and almost snatched the lead when Michael Woods fed the ball out to Sean Kavanagh on the left flank. The youngster took a touch before whipping a cross shot in to the front post which nearly caught keeper Glenn Morris off-guard but he parried it behind for a corner.
Josh Payne sent an effort just wide of Bartlett’s right-hand post, while Michael Woods’ shot at the other end almost deflected in to the path of Lewis Alessandra but the home defence recovered to clear.
At the start of the second half, Scott Harrison was caught in possession by Collins who drove in to the box and curled an effort on goal which went just wide to spare the Pools defender’s blushes.
There was even bigger let-off for Pools moment later when Boldewijn drove to the right byline and hung a cross in to the front post where Collins should have scored but wastefully headed over from six yards.
After missing twice, Collins wasn’t in the mood to let Pools off a third time and when Cox was allowed to come inside from the left on to his right foot he floated a perfect ball in to the box where the front man deftly headed his 14th goal of the campaign.
There was a great chance for Pools to draw level almost immediately when a handball right on the edge of the box provided a free-kick of real danger but substitute Billy Paynter’s effort was blocked by an eight-man Crawley wall.
Pools then enjoyed the lion-share of the possession and produced some nice football at times but without the punch in the final third, while the hosts continued to look a danger on the counter-attack.
Substitute Bobson Bawling got the space to shoot during one such break from the home side but his deflected shot across goal from the right of the area was well saved by Bartlett.
The introduction of Brad Walker gave Pools a little extra edge and, with his first touch, he sent the ball out to the right wing before charging in to the box where he was only a yard away from getting his head to the ball as the defenders cleared it away.
Having changed formation and even thrown Scott Harrison in to attack, Pools still couldn’t find a way to test Morris in the home goal and Crawley held on for the victory.
Full Time: Crawley Town 1 Pools 0
Attendance: 4266 (435 Pools)
Booked: Kavanagh (27), Woods (41), Laurent (64), Walker (90)
Crawley Town: Morris, Connolly, McNerney, Yorwerth, Young, Smith, Payne, Cox (Roberts 68), Clifford (Henderson 85), Boldewijn (Bawling), Collins.
Subs Not Used: Mersin, Blackman (75), Djalo, Watt, Henderson.
Pools: Bartlett, Richards (Oates 81), Harrison, Bates, Donnelly, Kavanagh, Featherstone, Woods (Walker 85), Laurent, Alessandra, Amond (Paynter 60).
Subs Not Used: Dudzinski, Martin, Hawkins, Deverdics.