Crawley Town opened the new season with three points after Mike Jones scored the winner seven minutes from time to kill off a spirited Coventry City fight-back.
The Sky Blues had come from 2-0 down after Jamie Proctor and Joe Walsh had given the hosts a comfortable half-time lead, though the match was marred by a handful of Coventry supporters storming the pitch in apparent protest of their much-publicised off-field problems.
Starting the season on -10 points and on the brink of liquidation, their players showed the fight they will need with goals from Callum Wilson and Franck Wilson before midfielder Jones broke hearts with a cool finish to get Reds off to a winning start.
It was the visitors who made the quicker start with two chances in the first two minutes.
Carl Baker beat Mat Sadler on the right and when his cross deflected back to him he skied his volley. Then Jordan Clarke beat Kyle McFadzean to a ball over the top but Reds stopped Paul Jones smothered the shot.
Reds regrouped and Proctor should have put them ahead when picked out by Nicky Adams but his volley was saved by City stopper Joe Murphy.
The hosts did then go ahead on 12 minutes and it was a strike worthy of being called the first goal at the Broadfield this season. Proctor picked up the ball a long way out and took up the invitation to run, side-stepping two challenges before causally clipping the ball into the top corner from 20 yards.
Spurred on by the goal, the hosts were now buzzing, and a fine James Hurst tackle sent Nicky Adams bursting forward, his strike from range needing a good save from Murphy to turn it around the post. From the resulting corner Crawley did double their advantage, Joe Walsh rising unopposed to nod home at the back post. 2-0 with 20 minutes gone. Good start.
When Adams went to take the next corner five minutes later Coventry fans’ frustrations bubbled over as a handful of fans darted onto to pitch, chased by security and then police who quickly managed to control the situation. Thankfully that was the last real crowd unrest of the game.
When the corner was eventually swung in Gary Alexander nodded against the crossbar as Reds threatened to run riot.
Coventry wasted a golden chance to get back into the game right on half time when John Fleck’s pass released Conor Thomas, Paul Jones saving with his legs as Wilson blazed the rebound over.
It was the visitors who again started better when they came out for the second half and this time their pressure was sustained.
Experienced frontman Clarke headed just wide, Wilson should have scored from a cross from the right but nodded just past the post and then Paul Jones was required to tip a Carl Baker cross over.
From that corner Reds failed to clear their lines and after Moussa had seen a shot blocked he skipped round Reds keeper Jones and teed up Wilson for a tap in. 2-1 and some real hope for the Sky Blues.
Proctor slammed a shot into the side netting with Reds first real chance of the half and Gary Alexander then nearly got away from the City defence.
With nine minutes of the match remaining Coventry got back on level terms when a corner came a long way for Moussa to smash home at the back post. City manager Steve Pressley could hardly contain his delight in the dug-out.
Naturally the goal also sent the long-suffering visiting faithful into delirium, though their celebrations were short lived.
Just two minutes later man of the match Adams ran forward and slipped Mike Jones in behind the defence and the former Bury midfielder stayed calm to slid the ball under the onrushing Murphy to see Crawley begin the season with a 3-2 win ahead of a tough first month of games.
Reds: Paul Jones, James Hurst, Mat Sadler, Kyle McFadzean, Joe Walsh, Josh Simpson, Dannie Bulman, Nicky Adams, Mike Jones, Jamie Proctor, Gary Alexander.
Subs: Mark Connolly, Connor Essam, Sergio Torres, Andy Drury, Jonny Maddison.
Coventry: Joe Murphy, Cyrus Christie, Blair Adams, Conor Thomas, John Fleck, Carl Baker, Leon Clarke, Franck Moussa, Jordan Willis, Callum Wilson, Jordan Clarke.
Subs: Lee Burge, Adam Barton, Billy Daniels, Aaron Philips, Louis Garner, Leon Lobjoit, Ben Maund.