Matt Tubbs converted a late penalty to earn Crawley a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Peterborough United at the Checkatrade.com Stadium.
The game appeared to be heading for a goalless draw when substitute Jack Baldwin handled in the area with five minutes to go and Tubbs made no mistake from the spot.
It stretched Crawley’s unbeaten run in League One to six games and lifted them five places to 13th in the table. Reds are now 14 points behind sixth-place Peterborough with four games in hand.
Crawley made a strong start and Posh keeper Bobby Olejnik was forced into two smart saves within the opening ten minutes.
Matt Tubbs saw his powerful shot turned over the bar after just 90 seconds and then Sullay Kaikai – making his full Football League debut – had a clever free kick pushed away.
Crawley were unable to build on such an encouraging opening, however, and Peterborough came into the game more with Michael Bostwick drilling a low free kick straight at Paul Jones and Tommy Rowe slicing an effort over from 12 yards.
The playing surface made it difficult for both teams to play their normal passing game but Josh Simpson and Tubbs did combine well to carve out the best chance of the half seven minutes before the interval. Simpson played Tubbs in but the striker put his shot straight at Olejnik from the angle.
Crawley had been the better team in the first half but Peterborough wrestled the initiative from them after the break.
Nicky Ajose and Britt Assombalonga were both denied low down at the near post by Paul Jones while Rowe shot wide from a good position.
The game desperately needed a goal to liven things up and Reds came within a whisker of grabbing one in the 65th minute.
A cutback from Tubbs almost snuck under the body of Olejnik after taking a deflection off a defender but the keeper did well to grab the ball on the line under pressure from Joe Walsh and Jamie Proctor.
Reds did get their noses in front with four minutes remaining with a goal that come out of nowhere.
Baldwin had only been on the pitch four minutes when Andy Drury's free kick hit him on the arm and referee Lee Collins pointed to the spot.
Tubbs showed nerves of steel as he cheekily chipped the ball down the middle with Olejnik diving to his right for his fifth goal in five games.
Posh very nearly grabbed an equaliser in injury time when substitute Conor Washington struck the upright from Rowe's cross.