Manager Richie Barker admitted Crawley were well below their best as they clung on to beat lowly Met Police 2-1 in the first round of the FA Cup.
Josh Simpson gave Reds the lead in the first half and Billy Clarke doubled the advantage after the break but the Ryman premier division outift roared back to set up a nervous finale.
Former Crawley striker Allan Tait made it 2-1 with eight minutes to go and the hosts twice came close to an equaliser in injury time when Jay Lovett had an effort cleared off the line and Tyrone Smith hit a post.
Barker said: "It was always going to be difficult but our job was to get into the second round and we achieved that. The performance was not what we wanted but in terms of the result we did what we needed to do.
"They pushed us all the way. They were organised and disciplined to stay in the game and then gave themselves a hell of a chance towards the end."
Barker is hoping for a home draw when the draw for the second round is made on Sunday afternoon.
He added: "I don't think there will be too many weaker teams in the second round so whoever we get it won't be easy but being at home would make it a bit easier."