Midfielder Danny Brown slammed the referee for not awarding an injury-time penalty but admits Crawley only had themselves to blame for defeat against York.

Brown's last gasp free-kick appeared to hit the arm of Mark Convery as he jumped in the wall.

The Crawley players were incensed and surrounded the official, who waved away their appeals and blew the final whistle.

It was a carbon copy of what happened against Woking five days earlier when the referee awarded a spot-kick.

Brown claims the man in black bottled the decision because it was so late in the game.

He said: "It was a definite penalty. The decision was more blatant than the one against Woking. He near enough caught the ball, it hit his hands twice, that's why we went spare.

"Maybe it was because it came at the end of the game and the referee didn't want all the controversy."

Manager John Hollins added: "The linesman gave a handball on Daryl Clare earlier when he brought the ball down with his shoulder, so he saw that one.

"Perhaps the shot was too hard for them to see it, I don't know."

Although Hollins' side were probably robbed of the chance to snatch a point, Brown refused to blame officials for Crawley's first loss in seven games.

That was because nothing could disguise the fact that Reds were way below par for the 92 minutes before the free-kick.

Brown said: "It was not good enough. We only played well in patches and didn't really get going.

"I don't know what the reason was. They were well organised, which is what we normally are but this time we let ourselves down."

Reds' biggest problem was lack of creativity.

There was plenty of perspiration but very little inspiration as their two playmakers struggled.

Simon Wormull was not at his best, which is something which has been a problem for a while.

Except in the FA Trophy win at Stevenage three weeks ago, where he was superb, the midfielder has not produced anything close to the kind of form Reds fans have become accustomed to ever since his spell as caretaker boss before Hollins took over in November.

That has not been a problem in the last few weeks because Tony Scully has provided the creative element Wormull has lacked.

But the winger, playing his first game after making his loan move from Notts County permanent, had his worst game since arriving at the Broadfield Stadium.

It meant striker Clare was often left trying to take on three defenders on his own to create his own chances.

York were not much better, they were an ordinary looking workmanlike side, but in striker Andy Bishop they had all the flair they needed.

The 23-year-old was outstanding and, if reports that a number of League scouts were watching him are true, it would be no surprise to see him leave for a bigger club during the transfer window.

He was involved in everything the visitors did going forward, including the winning goal on 61 minutes.

His header from a Darren Dunning corner bounced off the inside of a post, leaving keeper Phil Smith grounded, and defender James Dudgeon was on hand to tap into an empty net from two yards.

If Reds had someone like Bishop they probably would be lying in eighth place, where York are now, and not two points off the relegation zone.

There is no doubt it is something Hollins would like to address in the January window but at the moment he has no money to spend.

However, he is refusing to get too downhearted after Crawley's recent run, which earned him the manager-of-the-month award, and believes his side just "had a bad day at the office".

He said: "We didn't perform well and the players are very disappointed. I didn't go into the changing room screaming and shouting because they know how bad it was.

"We could have got a point near the end but if you don't put the quality in, you don't test them and there was not enough quality by a long way. That was the disappointing thing. You can afford in most games to allow three people to have a bad day but if five, six or seven have a bad day, that is tough and it is very hard to turn round.

"We didn't look anything like the team who played Woking but it is not the end of the world, we will get on with it."

Director of football Steve Duly is expected to make a surprise return to his role at the club today following a two- month break.