Lowestoft Town 2 Oxford City 1
Lowestoft Town put in a great team performance, working for each other and getting a deserved three points in a 2-1 win over third placed Oxford City
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Lowestoft Town: Jessup, Ainsley, Hayles, Haynes-Brown, Adam Smith, Lee Smith, Fisk, Radomski, Henderson (Eagle 47 mins), Reed (Bammant 88 mins), Woods-Garness (Zielonka 90 mins)
Subs not used; Louis, Davis
Oxford City: Abbey, Henderson, Stonehouse, Pond, Lapoujade, Santiago, Issac (Barcelos 64 mins), Mullings (Hoban 69 mins), Jussuf (Jackson 46 mins), Rodriguez, Winters
Subs not used; Benjamin
Lowestoft Town came into the game still carrying a number of injuries but were buoyed by the return of Henderson and Haynes-Brown following fitness tests. Returning to the club, Lee Smith went straight into the starting line-up and reserve team striker Remi Davis took up a place on the bench.
The match got underway at a somewhat windy crown meadow with Oxford City starting with the wind behind them and Lowestoft naming Fisk as captain for the day.
The match was only a minute old when Lee Smith sent in one of his trademark deliveries from the right to find Reed close in on goal but the keeper, Abbey was quick to his feet to block the effort.
The early stages of the game saw both sides looking to attack with a fairly open game in the offing.
A ball from deep saw Isaac in space for Oxford with the goal in front of him but Jessup was out quickly in the Lowestoft goal to distract the player, who ended up lifting the ball well wide of target.
Then with fifteen minutes gone and Lowestoft having edged possession up to that point, Oxford took the lead. A ball from the left saw leading scorer Jussuf manage to get a head onto the ball and guide it into the path of Isaac, who from close in couldn't miss to give Oxford a 1-0 lead (15 mins).
In doubly quick time Oxford could have increased their lead with Rodriguez delivering from the right and a great dummy allowing Santiago to get on the end and send a shot at goal but Jessup produced a super save in the Lowestoft goal to deny him.
It was clear to see why Oxford had scored so many goal this season with them putting plenty of numbers forward but that in itself also showed why they had conceded a large number at the back. This was something that Lowestoft needed to test and as the first half progressed they started to ask more questions of the Oxford defence, as an attacking Henderson run at the defence won a free-kick that was just bent wide of the upright by Adam Smith.
Thirty had now gone and even though Lowestoft were back in the game possession wise, most of the play was being contained to the centre of the pitch. Oxford were still looking a threat though as Winters was found in the box but Radomski was covering back superbly from midfield to make a great tackle in dealing with the danger.
The saving tackle at the back by Radomski appeared to fire Lowestoft up a gear and after a spell of possession and pressure, Lowestoft deservedly pulled level. A lovely touch inside from the left by Lee Smith saw Reed head towards the Oxford goal to try and get a shot away but Oxford initially cleared, before then making a mess of things to see the ball back at the feet of Reed who finished to level it up at 1-1, with his first goal on his return to the club (34 mins).
A charge down the left by Henderson saw Lowestoft continue to press and with the winger having a great chance to square the ball to another blue shirt, he tried too much, allowing his namesake and right back to get a tackle in.
Five minutes of the half remained and it was Oxford who were wanting the halftime whistle as the blues looked hungry to press home an advantage before the break. However, if not for Jessup changing direction and sticking a foot out at the other end it could have been Oxford with the lead.
There was time for a lead to be grabbed before the whistle though and it was a lead that was taken by the blues. Reed had worked hard all half and after some great work by him to win the ball, Lee Smith sent in a super ball from the right but Henderson still had work to do in order to get in position, before finishing well at the far post to send the ball low and into the bottom corner for 2-1 (44 mins).
A burst down the left by Henderson in first half stoppage time looked to have opened up Oxford again but this time they survived as Lowestoft left the pitch at the break with a deserved lead.
A change during the break saw Oxford remove their leading scorer Jussuf and replace him with Jackson. While for Lowestoft there were no changes but a focus to try and start the second half how they had finished the first.
The wind had now dropped but the half was barley two minutes old before Henderson went down struggling and was replaced by Eagle out on the left.
Lowestoft took little time in getting to work though and with the pace and pressing play of both Reed and Woods-Garness up top, the Oxford defence looked set for a tough forty-five minutes.
A charge from just over the halfway line saw Ainsley get past a number of Oxford shirts and into the box with real intent but he was unable to get a shot away as Lowestoft upped the ante.
Oxford weren't just going to sit back though and continued with the feature to their play, of getting numbers forward but the Lowestoft defence was looking well drilled with Hayles and Haynes-Brown in particular defending very well.
Another good run by Ainsley saw him go past Santiago before picking out Eagle at the far post and with the ball dropping out of the air nicely, Eagle hit the ball perfectly but the keeper thwarted him with a sensational save at the foot of the post. It was one-way traffic now as the blues looked for what would be a potentially game sealing third goal but with another sensational save from Lee Smith this time, Abbey denied them again in the Oxford goal. It was two unbelievable saves in a short space of time by Abbey and he'd certainly kept his side in the game as a result.
Oxford now mixed it up and introduced fresh legs with two changes in quick succession as Barcelos firstly replacing Issac and then Hoban replaced Mullings.
Twenty minutes remained and Lowestoft knew that a third goal would kill Oxford off but Oxford have already proved that they're a team full of goals and the game was delicately poised for a nervy finish for the blues.
Radomski had been a real workhorse all afternoon on and off the ball and with his play proving too much for Santiagio, the Oxford defender lost his cool and wiped the polish defender out right under the referees nose. Unfortunately for Oxford, Santiago had already been booked and with a second yellow card being show to him, it was an early bath for him as Oxford were reduced to ten men with just over fifteen minutes remaining.
Lowestoft took little time in trying to take advantage and land the killer blow, as great work by Reed saw the striker have an effort blocked by Henderson in the Oxford defence.
Oxford now had nothing to lose though and with Barcelos coming in from the right, Jessup was forced into making a double save with the first of them being a great save to keep Lowestoft ahead.
Just under ten minutes of normal time remained and with Oxford now pressing, a mixture of effort by the them and nerves by Lowestoft made it difficult for the blues to retain any sustained possession.
Lowestoft introduced Bammant for Reed with two minutes remaining and as five stoppage time minutes were indicated Oxford started to pen Lowestoft in a little. Lowestoft then introduced Zielonka for Woods-Garness as the ten men of Oxford tried to steal a late equaliser. However, Lowestoft were battling hard and as the minutes dropped away the final whistle brought to an end a fantastic team performance by Lowestoft and a richly deserved three points.
The Lowestoft squad has a great feeling of fight and togetherness about them at present and that was clearly on show today with every player doing what was asked of them, while also working hard for each other as a unit.
There were big performances from the back through to the front, with the defensive pairing of Hayles and Haynes-Brown looking assured throughout and Lee Smith looking like he's never been away with a great confidence in his own proven ability.
Woods-Garness gained more valuable minutes and worked hard to chase down balls all afternoon and Reed looked sharp again, applying good pressure on the Oxford defence and playing across the line well. While Jessup once again showed solid handling and made a couple of important saves.
There were a number of player who were worthy of being named Man of the Match but with a fantastic box-to-box midfield performance and an unrivalled work rate on and off the ball; my Man of the Match is Dawid Radomski.
Lowestoft Town are not in action now until Saturday 1st November when they welcome struggling Gloucester City to the Crown Meadow. The team were due to be in action against Tamworth next Saturday but with Tamworth in FA Cup action and Stalybridge Celtic not agreeing to bring our Tuesday fixture with them forward, the team will enjoy a two week break. The break is welcomed though and comes at a time which will allow the team to get some, if not all of the walking wounded fit again.
A great result and performance today. Believe!