Exeter City fell to a 3-1 defeat to Crawley Town at St James Park in Sky Bet League Two.
Two goals from Reece Grego-Cox and a first half finish from Filipe Morais did the damage for the away side with Ryan Bowman netting City’s only goal as they looked for a way back into the match.
Manager Matt Taylor made an unchanged side to the 11 that started the 2-0 win over Port Vale last time out as the Grecians looked to further consolidate a place in the play-off positions.
It was the away side who would see more of the possession in the opening 10 minutes with City forced into a number of defensive clearances early on.
Despite that, it was the Grecians who carved out the game’s first chances with Ryan Bowman latching onto a couple of crosses, the first where his header edged just wide before he flicked an effort just past the far post from Lee Holmes’ delivery.
But it was the away side who would take the lead on 26 minutes through Morais when the Grecians were caught in possession before the ball fell to the Town player, who fired in a low effort despite the best efforts of Christy Pym.
The Grecians looked for an instant response when Archie Collins threaded a dangerous ball through to Jake Taylor, but the City captain miscued his effort over Glenn Morris’ goal.
It got worse for City on 33 minutes when a low ball from deep was sent into the box and Grego-Cox was on hand to turn the ball in from close range to give Crawley a two-goal advantage.
Taylor again had another attempt for the Grecians when they worked it well out on the right, but despite an excellent cross in from Sweeney, the midfielder’s header edged just wide of goal.
City worked their best chance on 41 minutes when Holmes’ cross caused havoc in the Town area. Despite Morris punching, the ball fell to Hiram Boateng, who thumped a close-range effort off the crossbar, before Nicky Law’s header was cleared away from danger as Matt Taylor’s men looked to pull a goal back before the break.
The Grecians got back into it in the 50th minute when good chasing from substitute Lee Martin hurried the Town keeper into kicking long and Boateng received it before playing in Bowman to fire home to halve the deficit.
Law then went close on 56 minutes when a good spell from the Grecians saw Taylor lay the ball off to him on the edge of the box, but the midfielder’s effort edged just over.
City then went close again with two headers. Ryan Bowman got on the end of Lee Martin’s cross but forced a strong save by Morris, before Holmes had a flicked header go just wide of goal.
But as City pressed to find the equaliser they were caught on the counter-attack and the ball was played out to Grego-Cox before he cut inside from the left and fired a low effort beyond Pym.
Despite the Grecians looking to get back into the match, Crawley defended well and reduced them to little in the way of clear cut chances at goal as the match ended 1-3.
Exeter City: Pym, Sweeney, Woodman (K. Wilson, 69), O’Shea, Law, Holmes, Bowman, Taylor, Collins (L. Martin, 45), Brown, Boateng (D. Wilson, 69)
Subs not used: Hamon, Williams, Jay, Moxey
Crawley Town: Morris, Young, McNerney, Grego-Cox, Palmer (Nathaniel-George, 69), Francomb (Willock, 78), Dallison, Sesay (Maguire, 67), Bulman, Morais, Camara
Subs not used: Mersin, Gambin, N’Gala
Booked: Sesay, Bulman, McNerney, Maguire
Attendance: 5,054 (Inc, 81, away)