Lowestoft Town 1 Dover Athletic 3
Underdogs, Lowestoft Town fail to take advantage of Dover Athletic having their keeper sent off before the break, as they lose 3-1 in the FA Trophy.
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Lowestoft Town: Jones, Hayles, Gleeson, Haynes-Brown, Adam Smith, Jarvis, Ainsley, Okay, Radomski (Woods-Garness 46 mins), Eagle (Davis 82 mins), Bammant (Zielonka 87 mins)
Subs not used; Marsden, Jessup
Dover Athletic: Rafferty, Orlu, Bellamy (Raggett 87 mins), Murphy, Logan, Payne (Poole 79 mins), Francis, Sterling, Deverdics (Wynter 42 mins), Bonner, Essam
Subs not used; Nanetti, Reid
Lowestoft came into the game still missing a number of players with injury and their woes were added to even further with the news that Reed (tight hamstring), Gaughran (trapped nerve) and Mason (Cup-tied) were also unavailable.
As expected for this time of the year, the match got underway on a heavy and boggy pitch with Lowestoft fielding Bammant up top in a 4-1-4-1 formation with both Eagle and Ainsley looking to provide attacking support from wide.
Both sides had early opportunities in the first few minutes of the match, with an Eagle corner seeing Hayles in space and sending a free header wide from twelve yards for Lowestoft. While at the other end, Murphy cut inside from the right for Dover and drilled an effort just over the crossbar.
The first twenty minutes off the half saw an open affair with the game going from end to end. For Dover, their threat was coming in the form of Murphy and for Lowestoft it was the recently absent Eagle who had returned and was looking busy with the ball at his feet.
It was an intriguing match with neither side gaining an upper hand but just after the twenty minute mark it was the visitors who nearly opened the scoring. A corner from the right was swung in and Adam Smith was left to clear a goal bound header off the line; much to the annoyance of the thirty or so travelling supporters behind the goal.
Then at the other end, it was the blues turn to come close with a nice ball from Bammant seeing a chance open up for Okay and with the keeper seemingly going for it but getting nothing on it, the midfielders shot agonisingly came back off the post and into play.
Both sides had seen good chances come their way in quick succession but with another chance coming the way of Dover, Jones could only force a good save into the path of Sterling, who was at hand to give The Whites a 1-0 lead (25 mins).
The goal lifted Dover, who were now looking sharper on the ball in midfield and were also looking a threat up top with both Payne and the already impressing Murphy showing good movement.
A very harsh booking saw Haynes-Brown go into the referees book with just over ten minutes of the half remaining the blues started to pick up again and even though Bammant was facing a tough task on his own up top; Lowestoft were competing well.
While Haynes-Brown was looking solid at the back for Lowestoft, Okay was looking productive in midfield and with the ball breaking to him in the Dover area, he slipped it to his left and into the path of Ainsley. It was a great opportunity for Ainsley, for what looked like a certain goal but Rafferty pulled off a great save to stop him. However, from the immediate follow up from the save, Rafferty pulled Ainsley to the ground and not only handed Lowestoft a penalty but was also given his marching orders, as Dover went down to ten men. With no substitute keeper on the bench it was
outfield player Wynter who replaced Deverdics and was handed the gloves. Ainsley has proven in his time at Lowestoft that he's a master from the spot and with the whistle sounding he dispatched the ball into the net to level things up at 1-1 (42 mins).
It had been a half in which Lowestoft had played some good football and were deservedly on level terms but the Conference Premier outfit had looked slightly sharper in their play but were now a man down.
The intent of Lowestoft for the second half was clear to see, with Woods-Garness being introduced in the place of Radomski at the break and the blues switching to a 4-4-2.
The second period was still young when a fantastic ball by Jarvis dissected Dover to send Woods-Garness in on goal but with him choosing not to test the stand-in keeper, he squared to Bammant but the striker got the ball stuck under his feet and a really good opportunity had gone begging for the home side.
Lowestoft were now holding the upper hand possession wise but were frustratingly creating very little and certainly not testing the stand-in keeper with any shots or crosses. Possession continued to be inadequately turned into any sort of threat by Lowestoft and this remained the case, with the inevitable then happening just after the sixty minute mark. Dover had seen less possession than Lowestoft in the second half but with an in swinging corner finding its way to Murphy at the far post, his shot somehow went right through a number of players from the angle and buried itself into the far bottom corner for 2-1 (66 mins). It was a poor goal to concede for the blues and clearly showed that possession counts for nothing if you can't turn it into a threat on goal.
It was now looking all too easy for the ten men of Dover with just fifteen minutes of the match remaining and Lowestoft desperately needing to find something to make their extra man advantage count. However, the blues continued to show poor quality, poor decision making and even a reluctance to shot from distance when on a few occasions the opportunity to do so arose.
The frustrations then continued for the home faithful, as Lowestoft resorted to a long ball game which was offering even less of a threat on the Dover Athletic defence.
A change by the visitors with ten minutes remaining saw Poole replace Payne and even though Dover were looking solid at the back, Lowestoft were not really asking any questions of them at all.
The newly introduced Poole looked to have set up Murphy for a match ending goal but his effort crashed into the side-netting, as Lowestoft introduced Davis in place of Eagle and shifted to a 3-4-3 formation for the remainder of the match.
In truth the change in personnel and shape made little difference to a Lowestoft side that had been found lacking in ideas or quality and even with the introduction of Zielonka three minutes from time, the writing was already on the wall.
Three minutes of stoppage time were shown and a miserable day for the blues was compounded even more when in the second minute of stoppage time a ball from the right by Dover man of the match Murphy, saw Poole control really well to shake off his marker and put the game to bed at 3-1 (90+ mins).
Having played so well against the odds and against ten men last weekend; Lowestoft showed how not to play against ten men with a stand-in keeper in goal. The lack of quality and testing crosses for the keeper to deal with was practically nonexistent and the Lowestoft players will undoubtedly know that a great chance to beat higher opposition had gone begging.
Man of the Match: Haynes-Brown
Lowestoft Town are in action again next weekend, when it's back to the Vanarama Conference North and the visit of Chorley to the Crown Meadow.