Stockport County 3 Lowestoft Town 0
A tactically impressive Stockport County consign Lowestoft Town to their first defeat of the season, as the Trawlerboys lose 3-0 at Edgeley Park.
Stockport County: Hurst, Belezika (Lofthouse 83 mins), Duxbury, O'Halloran, Gregson, Lees, Churchman, Baker, Spencer (Sharp 58 mins), Milligan, Ryan (Dennis 58 mins)
Subs not used; Ormson, Murray
Lowestoft Town: Jones, Hayles, Gaughran (Louis 15 mins), Gleeson (Smith 62 mins), Haynes-Brown, Ainsley, Jarvis, Fisk, Eagle (Okay 69 mins), Henderson, Bammant
Subs not used; Radomski, Jessup
Before going into the match report; the club, players and management would like to thank our supporters for their fantastic support today and Glen Altham for running a supporters coach. Our fans could be heard singing and were even in full voice and getting right behind their team after the full time whistle.
Our hosts Stockport County were also very welcoming and provided exemplary hospitality for our club and supporters.
An effective 3-5-2 attacking formation for Stockport, when in possession, caused Lowestoft Town issues for large parts of the match as The Trawlerboys tasted defeat for the first time this season. However, it's been a fantastic start to the season and the players deserve a lot of respect and should hold their heads high.
Lowestoft Town went into the match making one change, as Louis dropped to the bench with Henderson being moved up top and Gleeson returning from injury. This meant that Ainsley moved to right midfield, while Hayles started at right back.
The game was just minutes old when a superb ball into the Lowestoft defence sent alarm bells ringing and with it breaking into the path of Ryan, Hayles was called into action to make a great saving tackle. Luck didn't appear to be on the side of Lowestoft though, as from the tackle the ball found its way to Baker and with it sat on a plate the midfielder unbelievably put it over from just four yards out.
Stockport were noticeably moving the ball around well in the opening minutes but Lowestoft were slowly starting to find their feet. Eagle found some space to let fly from twenty-five yards out and with his swerving shot being saved and diverted into the path of the following in Ainsley, muted cries for a penalty could be heard as the defender got back to stop him.
Ten minutes had passed and Lowestoft were now settled and finding their men, with Ainsley also now getting some joy down the right flank but it was the hosts who very nearly took the lead. A cross from the left by Baker found Belezika coming in at the far post with a downward header but Jones was equal to it, making a cracking save with his feet.
It had been a great and eye-catching start to the game but Lowestoft's plans were then dealt a blow as defender supreme, Gaughran was looking very uncomfortable after going down earlier and subsequently had to be replaced by Louis. This meant a reshuffle with Hayles moving centrally, Ainsley going to right back and Henderson dropping back to right wing.
Lowestoft were getting in and around the Stockport area and delivering balls in from the flanks but nothing was quite falling for them as yet. While Stockport were looking to get it wide at every opportunity and after winning a corner, the home side got the breakthrough. A corner was sent in and with Jones making a save and then a shot by Spencer being blocked, a scrambled ensued that ended with Baker smashing it into the net for 1-0 (21 mins).
It had been an indecisive start to the season for Stockport but they looked a good side and their ball movement, decision making and reading of the second ball was top class.
Thirty minutes had passed and the home side were now enjoying a good spell with Lowestoft not getting much joy down the right flank since the injury to Gaughran resulting in Ainsley being moved back into defence.
Churchman, Baker and the calm and experienced Milligan were controlling things in the middle for Stockport, who when in possession were playing a 3-5-2 formation with attacking wing backs. This was a tactic that was proving hard for Lowestoft to counter with the midfield of Jarvis and Fisk being outnumbered and overruled.
A late and high foot on Gleeson from Spencer, saw the Stockport striker go into the book as five minutes of the half remained.
The break finally arrived and Lowestoft left the pitch needing to do something to combat the home sides tactics in the second half.
The second half started with no changes being made by Lowestoft but the Trawlerboys had come out on the front foot and were making a good start to the half. Unfortunately the ball still wasn't quite dropping for Lowestoft at the crucial time and as the half progressed a few passes were now going astray for Lowestoft and the home side were increasing their threat again.
An offside looked certain to stop Spencer as he went free on goal but with the flag staying down, Jones made a great stop to keep the score at just one.
Stockport then made a double change with Dennis and Sharp replacing Ryan and Spencer, and it was a change that would later prove decisive for the home side.
The last thing Lowestoft needed was another injury in defence but Lady Luck was having a day off as Gleeson dropped to the ground with his hamstring going and was replaced by Smith with Haynes-Brown now going centrally.
Substitute Dennis then turned super-sub for Stockport with a ball coming in from the left and Dennis getting a lovely, low glancing header in that was guided into the far post, giving Jones no chance and increasing the lead to 2-0 (64 mins).
Lowestoft now had an uphill task to get anything from the game and with just five more minutes on the clock that chance became almost impossible, as two became three. This time it was the other sub who was involved as a defence splitting ball saw Sharp get a shot away and even though Jones made yet another excellent save, he could do nothing about Baker who was there to follow up and make it 3-0 (69 mins).
Lowestoft made their third change with Okay replacing Eagle and moments later it looked as if the Trawlerboys were going to get on the scoresheet but a cross from the left by Smith was headed down and wide by Louis at the far post.
It was clear that it just wasn't going to be for Lowestoft as the minutes started to tick away but when looking at the season so far, the teams that have been played and the miles travelled; it's been a positive start.
The last ten minutes passed with Ainsley going in the book for a late one on O'Halloran and Stockport making their final change. Four minutes of stoppage time were added on at the end and as the final whistle sounded the travelling Lowestoft supporters could be heard singing for their team. This was a nice touch to show their support, for their team and their players, who had been fairly beaten on the day but have started the season in great fashion.
The announcement of Man of the Match for Stockport couldn't be argued with as it went to Baker but I have to say that Milligan also put in an excellent and experienced performance. For Lowestoft, Gleeson had a solid game before his injury and even though nothing much went for him, Bammant worked tirelessly throughout. My Man of the Match though was Ashlee Jones, who made a number of great stops and could do little about the rebound being tucked away for the third goal.
It was another long trip for a tough match and the players deserve a huge round of applause for their efforts so far this season. I personally feel that they have shown more than enough so far, to show that they can compete at this level and more than hold their own.
Lowestoft will be hoping that the ankle injury to Gaughran and the hamstring injury for Gleeson are not too severe, as the team have no midweek fixture and are next in action on Saturday when they welcome Harrogate Town to the Crown Meadow.