Tamworth 2 Lowestoft Town 0
Lowestoft put in a spirited performance and are left feeling unlucky to have got nothing from the game after conceding in the first and last minute in a 2-0 loss at Tamworth.
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Tamworth: Belshaw, Smith, Vidal, James, Preston, Adams, Green (Trainer 85 mins), Clarke, Jackson, Morrell (Taylor 75 mins), Daniels
Subs not used; Sampson, Wilkins, Townsend
Lowestoft Town: Jones, Ainsley, Hayles, Gaughran, Adam Smith (Davis 85 mins), Gleeson, Zielonka (Marsden 53 mins), Jarvis, Okay, Bammant, Reed
Subs not used; Radomski
Lowestoft arrived at Tamworth with a depleted squad with Eagle serving the last game of his two match suspension, Fisk now on the injury list and the game still coming too soon for Lee Smith and Henderson. On top of that both Louis and Haynes-Brown were suffering from illness, Woods-Garness is still being eased back from his knee injury and Jessup was unavailable. Gleeson had returned though and went straight into the starting line-up, while Davis got a place on the bench.
Tamworth were also struggling with injuries coming into the game and as a result player/manager Andy Morrell started himself up top for The Lambs.
The game got underway on a very cold night with temperatures close to freezing and Lowestoft setting up in 4-1-4-1 formation with Gleeson in front of the defence and Bammant out wide.
Lowestoft started with their usual and predictable kick out to the left and with Tamworth taking the resulting throw in quickly; Jackson got the better of the Lowestoft defence with a burst of pace to get into the box and square to Morrell for the simplest of finishes to give the home side the lead after just 24 seconds; 1-0 (1 min). It was a most unfortunate start for the blues, who nearly hit back early with an Ainsley pass seeing Reed win a corner. From which an Adam Smith delivery saw Preston send a touch towards his own goal but just as it looked like finding its way in, Tamworth cleared it from off the line.
It had been an open start to the match but since the early goal Lowestoft were hitting back with a sustained spell of possession and forcing a number of corners as a result. The Tamworth keeper, Belshaw was looking decidedly unsure from these corners, forcing his defence to work hard in order to block a number of attempts from Lowestoft with fifteen minutes of the match gone.
A brief respite for the home side saw Morrell get in off the shoulder of Gaughran but with him taking his shot early it was simple for Jones to claim.
It was Lowestoft who were continuing to see the large majority of possession though, with the blues working the ball around well and looking threatening as Zielonka ran at James in the home defence before dragging a shot just wide.
The Trawlerboys continued to carry a threat with some slick football and even though Tamworth were ahead, frustrated cries could already be heard by sections of the home supporters.
Gleeson was a striking figure, controlling matters in front of the defence. While Ainsley was linking up well from right back to combine with Jarvis and Okay in the Lowestoft midfield, and Reed was holding the ball up well and working the home defence. Lowestoft were certainly playing well but for all of their possession they had not tested the keeper as of yet.
Lowestoft were looking worthy of an equaliser but Tamworth could and should have doubled their lead, in somewhat fortunate circumstances. As Green looked to slip a ball into Daniels, Adam Smith slipped on the surface when looking favourite to cut out the pass; leaving Daniels with a great opportunity to score but he unbelievably placed his effort past the far post, much to the dismay of the home support.
Ten minutes of the half now remained and in a moment of utter stupidity, player/manager Morrell went into the book for Tamworth after refusing to retreat and blocking a Jones kick in the Lowestoft goal.
Lowestoft had enjoyed some lengthy spells of possession for most of the first half but with the half coming to a close the home side started to get back into the game. However, they caused little threat as the remaining time played out but left the field with a lead in a delicately poised match that had seen the blues more than play their part.
As the second half started the key for Lowestoft was in turning their possession and passing game into chances, and that's exactly what they did just over five minutes into the second period. A great cross-field ball by Zielonka found Reed and with the striker shifting across the defence before shooting, he forced the keeper into a good save but he could only push it into the path of Zielonka, who had made up good ground to follow up and a get a shot in but his side footed effort was also saved by Belshaw in the Tamworth goal.
It was a good cross and a good follow up by Zielonka but in truth he had struggled to make many inroads on the right wing for Lowestoft and as a result the blues made their first change of the match as Marsden replaced the polish wide man.
Lowestoft continued to play well and with the blues captain, Gleeson geeing his players on, they were still in the game and firmly in with a chance of getting something with thirty minutes remaining.
The blues certainly couldn't be faulted for the efforts so far but for all of their possession they hadn't quite turned it into enough chances; highlighting the current need and the ongoing search by the management team to bring in more ammunition and options up front. In saying that though, the home side had created very little themselves and yet again the Lowestoft defence was looking solid, with Gleeson also giving added protection and control in front of them.
A soft looking foul saw Daniels standing over a free-kick in a dangerous position for Tamworth and with him getting his effort on target, Jones was at full stretch, diving to his right to make a great save to put it behind for a corner.
As the final fifteen minutes arrived, the away trip and a little bit of tiredness was creeping into the blues and with Morrell doing well down the left, he laid it back to leading scorer Jackson but his effort was woefully high and over the bar.
A change from the bench for Tamworth was sandwiched in-between Lowestoft bookings for Hayles and then Bammant, as the possession started to level out with ten minutes of the match remaining.
Lowestoft needed to find a second wind from somewhere and with five minutes remaining they switched to a back three and introduced young striker Davis in place of Adam Smith. Tamworth reacted with a change of their own, as Trainer replaced Green.
The Trawlerboys effort deserved some sort of reward and with the final minutes starting to tick away, a mistake at the back by the home side allowed Bammant to latch onto the ball but before he could get his shot away in the area, a covering defender was there to block.
Lowestoft were now pushing numbers forward and in the final minute of normal time the blues midfield and defence stood still in disbelief for what looked like a clear offside for the home side. However with it seemingly being more than a few yards offside, the flag stayed down and with Jackson in loads of space as a result, he found Trainer with ease in the middle and with him slotting home, it was game over at 2-0 (90 mins).
The final whistle followed shortly after and it had been a bitterly disappointing result for Lowestoft, with the team having put in a really spirited and competitive performance from which they deserved something from the game.
The Lowestoft midfield of Jarvis and Okay was ably support by Ainsley to create the spells of possession and passing that the blues enjoyed during the match. While Reed looks to be getting sharper with each game since his return and proved to be a menace, especially in the first half.
However, with a commanding performance that took the pressure off the central defensive pairing and also provided an outlet of well judged distribution; my Man of the Match was Lowestoft captain Dan Gleeson.
Lowestoft Town are next in action on Saturday, when they're on the road again for the third time in quick succession as they take on Solihull Moors.
The blues fighting spirit and togetherness will no doubt continue but they will also be hoping for a return to fitness, sooner rather than later for a number of players.