Co-manager Steve Hendey had demanded improvement from his squad after Melton Town fell to a heavy defeat at highly-fancied Olney Town on Saturday.
Town faced a difficult away trip in their start to the new United Counties League campaign and were well beaten by a side who Hendey believes will be contenders for the title this season.
Olney took the lead when the referee adjudged Crawley’s close-range effort to have crossed the line despite strong protests from Melton.
The early exchanges had been even, but the goal certainly put the home side on the front foot and they increased their lead when Crawley punished hesitant defending to double the scoreline.
Melton were being made to defend by a hard pressing game and only two fine saves kept the home side at bay.
The visitors made changes at half-time and started the second half better, but two quick goals from Appleton and Mitten put the game well out of their reach. The second of those was a contender for goal of the season at any level.
Melton pulled one back when Baker headed past his own keeper under pressure from Cam Brookes, but Andrew Macdonald made it five.
But with time running out, Appleton ran from what appeared an offside position and rounded Mortimer who caught the forward’s trailing foot.
The referee awarded the penalty and compounded Melton’s bad day when he brandished a harsh red card.
Skipper donned the gloves before indulging in mind games with Appleton and duly made a fine save from the kick and the follow-up.
Hendey said: “There are no excuses, we were well below our best and were well-beaten by a very good side.
“We had some big decisions go against us, but Olney were full value for their win and the scoreline didn’t flatter them.
“They worked extremely hard, not allowing us to get any rhythm, and we had too many who put in below-par performances on the day.
”All in all it was a stark reminder that if we want to compete at the right end in this league we’ll need to be a lot better than today.”
Town play their first game of the season at Digital Deadline Park on Saturday when they host Buckingham Town who were beaten 3-1 in the FA Cup on opening weekend. Kick-off is at 3pm.