A stunning second half hat-trick by Tom Eaves signalled a demoralising defeat for Crawley Town away at Shrewsbury.
The result probably put the final nail in the coffin of Crawley’s outside hopes of making the play-off places.
Eaves, who is on loan at Shrewsbury from Bolton, hit three fantastic goals for the home side in the 48th, 67th and 85th minutes, each coming out of the blue after Crawley had enjoyed a promising first half.
The Shrews even managed to miss a penalty for Joe Walsh’s shirt-pulling to add insult to injury which was skied over the bar by Matt Richards 10 minutes before the end.
Richie Barker made two changes to the side which drew 1-1 against Stevenage on Saturday with Dannie Bulman and Billy Clarke coming in for skipper Josh Simpson and Mike Jones.
Reds made a good start to their second game of the Easter weekend with striker Jamie Proctor looking lively upfront and enjoying several scoring chances in the first half without managing to find the net.
In fact the visitors dominated the early exchanges as Proctor lifted a shot over the bar, then headed Mustapha Dumbuya’s cross onto the top of the net.
A Mat Sadler corner was nodded wide of the target by Joe Walsh with a glancing header, then Proctor looked a handful to the opposing defence on the way to dragging another attempt off-target.
Proctor miscued again when teed up by Bulman with a ball through the middle, then Clarke had a go from 25 yards without luck.
It took until the 28th minute for Shrewsbury to carve out a real chance which was palmed away by Paul Jones for a corner from Joe Jacobson.
The Shrews gained the upper hand before the break with a couple of chances falling to Jon Taylor which was easily gathered by Paul Jones and then Eaves had an attempt deflected wide by a team-mate.
Although the home side finished the first half strongly, Barker’s team must have wondered how they managed to go into half-time without scoring a goal.
The second half was completed dominated by the Shrews and sprung to life just three minutes after the restart through a blockbuster of a shot by Eaves struck with his left foot from 20 yards which gave Paul Jones no chance.
Eaves thundered another effort wide a few minutes later but it was to be Crawley who went closer moments later and again the offending marksman was Proctor, who followed a great run and cross by Nicky Adams with a bad miss from five yards when it looked easier to have scored.
Eaves then put the home side further in front with a 67th minute second goal which really looked impressive. A powerful run through the middle beating several Crawley players was followed with a nicely weighted lob over the head of Jones.
The Shrews kept the pressure on with another threatening opportunity created by Steve McGinn and Marvin Morgan which was cleared out of play by Bulman.
Adams tried to pull a goal back with a pacey run down the left and useful shot which went wide.
It looked like the Reds were going to go 3-0 down in the 80th minute when Joe Walsh gave away a penalty. But from the ensuing spot-kick skipper Matt Richards lifted his shot well over the bar.
Then with five minutes to go Eaves underlined his goalscoring ability with his and the Shrews’ third goal with another brilliant strike from 20 yards which again Reds stopper Jones had no answer for.
Crawley Town: P.Jones, Dumbuya (Torres 61), Sadler, Connolly, Clarke, Sparrow (Simpson 31), Walsh, Proctor (O’Brien 74), Bulman, Adams, Hayes. Unused subs: Essam, Hunt, M.Jones, Maddison
Attendance: 5196 (137 away)