Lowestoft Town 2 Needham Market 0
By Terry Bullen
Lowestoft came out 2-0 winners in their first home pre-season match of the season, beating Needham Market 2-0 with goals Okay and Eagle.
Team: Jones, Hayles, Gaughran, Gleeson, Haynes-Brown, Ainsley, Okay, Jarvis, Henderson, Louis, Bammant
Subs used: Marsden, Smith, Jessup, Neto, Eagle
Subs not used: Lukasik, Edwards-King, Devillian, Bailey, Doddington
Lowestoft Town welcomed back their London based players, who missed the first pre-season match at Gorleston on Tuesday night after suffering a breakdown on route. A strong side was fielded again by the Trawlerboys, with a number of trialists continuing to be looked at by the management during pre-season.
Lowestoft looked sharp from the start and were looking to get at the Needham Market defence. However as the first half went on, Needham Market started to come into the game and nearly scored midway through the half with one of their players breaking away into the box but as he tried to round Jones, the keeper put a stretched hand out to steal it off the players toe. Unfortunately in doing so the Lowestoft shot-stopper sustained an injury and with it just being a pre-season the management were taking no chances and introduced Jessup from the bench.
The game was fairly even at this point and was mainly being contained and competed in the middle of the pitch.
Another precautionary change was made by Lowestoft ten minutes before the break when Eagle replaced Henderson on the left wing but it was Needham Market who came the closest just before the break with a break down the right and the centred ball being steered onto the Lowestoft crossbar.
During the break Smith was introduced at left back in place of Haynes-Brown, as Lowestoft looked for a bit more intensity in their play. After impressing at Gorleston during the week, Okay found himself in with a chance to test ex-blues keeper Andrew Plummer but he selflessly laid the ball back instead and the Needham defence cleared the danger.
Lowestoft shuffled their pack again as Joe Marsden was introduced at right back for a tired looking Hayles, who had played his first minutes of pre-season.
A drilled shot from Eagle was deflected past the Needham post as the game started to become more stretched and both sides were finding more space to pick their passes.
There were passing spells from both sides but neither keeper had been given an awful lot to do up to this point and the fitness of the players was now being tested in the hot and sunny conditions with twenty-five minutes remaining.
Marsden, who had looked solid in midweek, powered down the right for Lowestoft and with him slipping in Okay with a nice ball, the Lowestoft midfielder played it cool from just inside the right-hand side of the box and side-footed it past the keeper and inside the post for a 1-0 lead (68 mins).
Haynes-Brown was re-introduced in place of Gleeson, as Lowestoft started to up the ante and take full control of the game. A lovely back-heel by Jefferson Louis allowed Bammant to shake off the Needham defence and drag a shot across goal. This was shortly followed by Louis spinning on the ball from outside the box and hitting the crossbar.
Ten minutes remained and one of the trialists, Neto replaced the hardworking Okay in the Lowestoft midfield. It was Lowestoft who capped a good run out for the team though, doubling their lead three minutes from time. A free-kick on the edge of the area saw Eagle step up and send a low shot creeping inside the post for 2-0 (87 mins) and a deserved victory for Lowestoft Town.
Lowestoft Town are next in pre-season action on Saturday when they will be at home again, this time welcoming Wroxham to the Crown Meadow.