Lowestoft Town 1 Braintree Town 1
Lowestoft gain a creditable draw against Conference Premier side Braintree Town.
Thanks to Will Randle for the following report:-
Ashlee Jones, Williams, Crane (C), Gaughran A.Smith (S.Ainsley), Gleeson(Woods-Garness), Henderson(Tino), Fisk(Okay), Eagle, Cunningham(L.Smith), Frew (J. Ainsley)
Lowestoft Town came from behind to earn a much deserved draw with Braintree Town at the Meadow this afternoon. Despite Braintree being a whole two leagues above the Trawlerboys, Lowestoft matched them for much of the game and some resolute defending, especially from captain Greg Crane, ensured that the visitors had few chances to test Ashlee Jones in the Lowestoft goal.
Some excellent vision from winger Danny Cunningham almost lead to the first chance of the game, but his cross was smothered up by the Braintree 'keeper before anyone in a blue shirt could reach it.
Michael Frew really should have scored seconds later after Braintree failed to clear their lines, but his shot bobbled into the ground and didn't have enough pace in it to test the 'keeper. Braintree then began to create several chances of their own, a well struck free kick was hit over the wall but Ashlee Jones was equal too it. A second free kick moments later was played short, the resulting shot ricocheting off the wall and out for a corner, which was well dealt with by Lowestoft. Indeed, the referee was all but happy to award free kick after free kick and both Eagle and Cunningham saw their efforts clear the bar in a niggly first half.
Lowestoft wasted no time in starting the second half how the ended the first, an early passing move saw Henderson find space to fire in a shot, which was well saved. Jack Ainsley did well to chase a seemingly lost cause and his pressure led to the first corner of the second half, which was nervously punched over the bar for a second corner kick, the latter coming to nothing.
Despite, starting the second half rather sluggishly, Braintree then took the lead, somewhat against the run of play. From a throw in, a low cross was hit into the box, the Iron striker stretching to make contact with the ball and diverting past Jones and into the near post. Braintree could have doubled their lead moments later when a powerful shot from ex Norwich winger Luke Daley fizzed over the bar.
Braintree seemed content with their 1-0 lead and after a dull period of both teams cancelling each other out, Lowestoft came close to equalising from a free kick after a clever ball from Lee Smith missed the intended target of Crane and bounced off a Braintree defender before Sam Gaughran met the ball with his head, forcing an excellent save from the new man in the Braintree goal, the former goalkeeper being subbed at half time. Luke Daley then came even closer at his own end, again good work from Ainsley to chase down a long ball and then an excellent cross which was nearly diverted into his own net by the former Canary.
Braintree looked to have killed off the game when a shot from just inside the box bounced over the line but the linesman dissalowed the goal for offside. Lowestoft weren't giving up though and nearly found a much deserved equaliser after an excellent corner from Robert Eagle was narrowly headed over by Crane.
Braintree sensed that their one goal lead might not be enough and proceeded to create another chance for themselves, again firing over the bar. Five minutes or so to go and they were right in thinking so. Eagle's pass was handled outside the box and Lee Smith stepped up to deliver an exquisite free kick, dipping over the wall and into the top-right corner, pick that out! The Blues kept their shape well for the remaining minutes and were unlucky not to steal a victory after excellent play from trialists Tino and Woods-Garness led to the former Canvey Island man volleying just over the bar. Final score 1-1.
After the game I managed to grab a quick word with Lowestoft Town club captain and my Man of the Match, Greg Crane:-
WR: ''That was a well earned draw today against a team in Braintree who find themselves in the Conference Premier. A great result against a team two leagues above us, how do you feel about our chances of success next season? GC: ''Yeah, like every season we go into it with a great bunch of lads and we fancy our chances. We've come out of pre-season with a few injuries but we've got a great squad and we're enjoying our football. WR: ''Do you feel that you can draw confidence from today's performance going into next Saturday's season opener against Dulwich Hamlet?'' GC:''Yeah, definately, Braintree played well and we gave them a good game which puts us in good stead for the Dulwich game.