Matt Tubbs grabbed both goals to lift Crawley up to second in League Two as Carl Fletcher lost for the first time as Plymouth's caretaker manager.
Tubbs steered in Kyle McFadzean's mis-hit shot and doubled the hosts' lead when he was left unmarked and fired home from inside the penalty area.
Tom Eastman, McFadzean, Tubbs, Tyrone Barnett and Sergio Torres all missed further chances for the dominant Reds.
The Pilgrims' best opportunity fell to Curtis Nelson but he headed just wide.
VIEWS FROM THE DRESSING ROOM
Crawley manager Steve Evans told BBC Sussex:
"It's a great win for us. On another day if we had a bit more quality in the final third it could have been any score.
"We could have perhaps taken more advantage of attacking positions we got ourselves in. But you have days like that.
"Carl certainly gets a shift out of his players. They never stopped defending or stopped trying.
"But the real winners today are Plymouth Argyle. I heard from one of their directors that it looks like their takeover is happening. That's the bigger picture and is more important."
Plymouth caretaker manager Carl Fletcher told BBC Radio Devon:
"It's back down to Earth for us now isn't it?
"It was always going to be tough coming here, they're obviously a good side and well organised.
"I'm gutted for the lads, as they've given everything and worked their socks off. "
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Live Text Commentary
Full Time The final whistle goes and the game is over.90:00 +3:51
John Akinde is ruled offside. Indirect free kick taken by Jake Cole.90:00 +3:23
Foul by Scott Davies on Curtis Nelson, free kick awarded. Jake Cole restarts play with the free kick.90:00 +2:37
Warren Feeney produces a right-footed shot from close range which goes wide of the right-hand post.90:00 +0:54
Ladjie Soukouna produces a left-footed shot from outside the penalty box and misses left.88:53
Scott Davies fouled by Jamie Griffiths, the ref awards a free kick. Indirect free kick taken by Michael Doughty.86:39 Substitution
Substitution Michael Doughty replaces Matthew Tubbs.86:14
John Akinde takes a shot. Curtis Nelson gets a block in.83:55 Substitution
Substitution Matt Lecointe is brought on as a substitute for Simon King.83:18
Matthew Tubbs is caught offside. Free kick taken by Jake Cole.82:26
Free kick awarded for a foul by John Akinde on Simon King. Jake Cole takes the free kick.80:33
Matthew Tubbs is caught offside. Indirect free kick taken by Jake Cole.80:03 Substitution
Substitution (Crawley Town) makes a substitution, with John Akinde coming on for Tyrone Barnett.78:04 Substitution
Substitution (Plymouth) makes a substitution, with Jamie Griffiths coming on for Will Atkinson.78:04 Booking
Booking Simon Walton goes into the referee's book.77:42
Simon Walton gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Sergio Torres. Free kick taken by Scott Shearer.75:18
Corner from the right by-line taken by Will Atkinson, Kyle McFadzean manages to make a clearance.74:19
Corner from the left by-line taken by Will Atkinson, Kyle McFadzean makes a clearance. Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Will Atkinson from the right by-line.72:15 Substitution
Substitution Scott Davies is brought on as a substitute for Andy Drury.71:33
Warren Feeney gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Tom Eastman. Scott Shearer takes the indirect free kick.
Header from deep inside the area by Matthew Tubbs goes harmlessly over the crossbar.69:14
Headed effort from deep inside the area by Ladjie Soukouna misses to the right of the target.68:31
Corner taken by Will Atkinson played to the near post, Andy Drury manages to make a clearance.67:27
Effort from the edge of the area by Warren Feeney goes wide of the left-hand post.67:05
Tyrone Barnett is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Jake Cole restarts play with the free kick.63:30
Corner from right by-line taken by Will Atkinson.63:30 Substitution
Substitution Conor Hourihane leaves the field to be replaced by Tom Hitchcock.63:30 Booking
Booking Kyle McFadzean is booked.63:23
Kyle McFadzean concedes a free kick for a foul on Ladjie Soukouna. Robbie Williams restarts play with the free kick.61:52
Conor Hourihane fouled by Kyle McFadzean, the ref awards a free kick. Conor Hourihane restarts play with the free kick.60:33 Booking
Booking Booking for Will Atkinson for dissent.60:03
The assist for the goal came from Tyrone Barnett.60:03 Goal scored
Goal! - Matthew Tubbs - Crawley 2 - 0 Plymouth Matthew Tubbs gets on the score sheet with a goal from inside the area low into the middle of the goal. Crawley Town 2-0 Plymouth.59:08
Andy Drury restarts play with the free kick,59:08 Booking
Booking Durrell Berry booked.59:01
Durrell Berry gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Sergio Torres.56:11
Tyrone Barnett takes a shot. Save by Jake Cole.54:02
Andy Drury takes a shot. Save made by Jake Cole. Effort on goal by Sergio Torres from just inside the penalty area goes over the target.52:27
Andy Drury takes a outswinging corner.52:27
Andy Drury takes a inswinging corner from the left by-line played to the near post. Corner taken right-footed by Andy Drury from the right by-line, clearance by Simon Walton.50:01
Inswinging corner taken by Andy Drury from the left by-line. Unfair challenge on Simon King by Claude Davis results in a free kick. Jake Cole restarts play with the free kick.48:10
The official flags Tyrone Barnett offside. Indirect free kick taken by Jake Cole.45:34
Sergio Torres concedes a free kick for a foul on Durrell Berry. Jake Cole restarts play with the free kick.45:01
The match restarts for the second half.45:00 +2:15 Half time
Half Time The first half comes to an end.45:00 +0:39
Tyrone Barnett has a header from close range and clears the crossbar.42:58 Booking
Booking Tom Eastman is shown a yellow card for unsporting behaviour.42:45
Warren Feeney fouled by Tom Eastman, the ref awards a free kick. Conor Hourihane takes the free kick.40:42
Matthew Tubbs takes a shot. Save by Jake Cole.37:05
Corner taken right-footed by Andy Drury, Claude Davis takes a shot.35:19
Free kick awarded for a foul by Ladjie Soukouna on Kyle McFadzean. Indirect free kick taken by Scott Shearer.34:50
Effort on goal by Matthew Tubbs from just inside the area clears the crossbar.28:31
Will Atkinson takes a corner.27:19
Free kick awarded for a foul by Dannie Bulman on Conor Hourihane. Simon Walton restarts play with the free kick.23:13
The offside flag is raised against Warren Feeney. Scott Shearer takes the indirect free kick.19:19
Tom Eastman takes a shot. Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Andy Drury, Kyle McFadzean produces a right-footed shot from inside the area that goes over the bar.17:34
Close range header by Matthew Tubbs misses to the right of the target.14:53
Free kick awarded for a foul by Scott Griffiths on Luke Daley. Direct free kick taken by Conor Hourihane.13:27
Will Atkinson fouled by Andy Drury, the ref awards a free kick. Simon King restarts play with the free kick.6:57
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Sergio Torres by Ladjie Soukouna. Free kick taken by Andy Drury.6:25
Simon King has a headed effort at goal from close in which goes wide right of the target.5:48
Conor Hourihane fouled by Dannie Bulman, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Robbie Williams.4:20
Assist on the goal came from Kyle McFadzean.4:20 Goal scored
Goal! - Matthew Tubbs - Crawley 1 - 0 Plymouth Matthew Tubbs scores a goal from close range to the bottom left corner of the goal. Crawley Town 1-0 Plymouth.2:46
Sergio Torres has an effort at goal from the edge of the area that misses to the right of the target.0:56
Unfair challenge on Simon King by Tyrone Barnett results in a free kick. Indirect free kick taken by Jake Cole.0:00
The game begins.
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