Solihull Moors 3 Lowestoft Town 3
At 3-0 it looked like being a long day for ten men Lowestoft Town but they showed big hearts to get a stunning point in a 3-3 draw at Solihull Moors.
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Solihull Moors: Breeden, Taundry, Gough, Denny (Rosser 75 mins), Daly, Elvins, Byfield (Langdon 77 mins), Fleet, Bogle (Espejo 46 mins), Beswick, Knights
Subs not used; Story, Action
Lowestoft Town: Jones, Mason, Hayles, Gaughran, Haynes-Brown, Gleeson, Ainsley, Jarvis, Okay, Woods-Garness (Jessup 38 mins), Reed (Bammant 86 mins)
Subs not used; Radomski, Davis, Zielonka,
Dean Mason had signed for Lowestoft overnight from Arlesey Town and went straight into the team at right back but is a versatile player who can also play wide in midfield. While Marsden was missing and has been added to the long injury list for Lowestoft after going over on his ankle in training.
Solihull boasted the league's leading scorer in their side with their star play and red hot Omar Bogle; who has already scored fourteen goals for The Moors and had made a scoring debut for England C a couple of weeks ago.
Prior to the match; both teams merged together for a photo to mark 'Football Remembers' on a day when all teams came together to celebrate the spirit of the Christmas Truce football matches of 1914.
The match got underway on a sloping but lush and even surface at the Autotech Stadium, with Lowestoft setting up in a 4-1-4-1 formation again; seeing Gleeson in front of the back four and both Ainsley and Woods-Garness being deployed in the wide roles.
A number of Lowestoft fans had travelled to the game and were in full voice right from the off, in getting behind their beloved Trawlerboys.
It was a good opening few minutes from Lowestoft but alarm bells were soon ringing when Hayles laboured on the ball at the back and allowed Bogle to pick up the ball and head in on goal. Luckily for Hayles, he was spared his blushes with Jones getting down to made a great stop in the Lowestoft goal to deny Bogle the opening goal.
Moments later though the home side did open the scoring and it came from a good delivery from the right by Denny and with the Lowestoft defence completely static, Beswick had the easy task of heading in from a few yards out for 1-0 (5 mins).
Solihull nearly doubled their lead in doubly quick time, as Bogle slipped in goalscorer Beswick but Jones was at hand again to turn his shot over. Solihull had hit their stride now with some good creativity and excellent movement, with Lowestoft already starting to look on the ropes with ten minutes gone. The home side looked quick, confident and threatening but with a Reed shot from a tight angle crashing into the side netting, Lowestoft started to compete. The Trawlerboys were putting together some passing and movement of their own, as the twenty minute mark arrived in a very high tempo match. However, it was at the back where Lowestoft looked vulnerable and with Hayles switching off yet again, Bogle had a good chance to double The Moors lead but a woefully weak shot let Hayles and Lowestoft off.
The chance for the home side to double their lead seemingly fired Lowestoft up, as they started to play some good quick passing themselves, with Gleeson knocking it around well and being ably supporters by his midfield and wide men in front of him.
The men from Suffolk looked to have finally battled back into the game but then a nightmare five minute spell saw the afternoon take a severe turn for the worse for Lowestoft. First came a second goal for the home side, following good play on the left by Knights and with him sending a ball across the deck for which every white Lowestoft shirt failed to react to; Fleet was left thinking Christmas had come early as he tucked the ball home from ten yards for 2-0 (34 mins).
Then what appeared to be the dagger blow to Lowestoft hearts, saw Bogle put in on goal and with him looking to round the keeper, Jones rashly took him down for a penalty and an early end to his afternoon with a straight red card. Woods-Garness was the unfortunate player to make way for the introduction of substitute keeper Jessup and even though he guessed the right way from the spot in his first piece of action, he couldn't stop Bogle from making it 3-0 (39 mins). Bogle went into the book after kicking the ball away in his celebrations but it now looked like being a very long afternoon for the ten men of Lowestoft.
Halftime was now drawing near and in truth both teams should have then been down to ten, with the already booked, Bogle going right through the back of Haynes-Brown out on the touchline for a certain second booking and an early bath. However, the Lowestoft players, management and supporters were left scratching their heads when the referee left his cards in his pocket. A decision that even came as a surprise to the home bench and supporters who were certain their side were now going to be level in numbers.
Lowestoft needed halftime to form some sort of plan and right on the stroke of halftime that plan was given a very slim shot of hope. As a Mason free-kick on the right hand side of the area was flighted into the box and met by a superb thumping header from Jarvis, that the keeper could only help into the roof of the net for 3-1 (45 mins).
Bogle should have already been in the dressing room for a second booking but at halftime and with the home side in a comfortable position, he was withdrawn and replaced by Espejo for the second half.
Beswick placed an early shot wide for Solihull but Lowestoft were competing and what was about to follow was a performance that contained real heart and an unrelenting attitude to turn around what seemed impossible.
Just three minutes of the second half were on the clock and with Reed doing really well to get a shot away to sting the keepers hands, the home defence couldn't clear their lines and with Ainsley sliding in, it was 3-2 and things were about to get interesting (48 mins).
There was still danger for Lowestoft to deal with at the other end though and with some neat passing it looked like the home side were about to carve a chance out but in true fighting spirit, Gaughran was at hand to block the final ball across goal.
The travelling supporters must have been thinking that an equaliser was the stuff of fairytales and from a corner the fairytale nearly came true, with Haynes-Brown steering an effort goal bound that had to be cleared from the goalmouth by a shaken Solihull defence. The Lowestoft fans were now in full cry again and their efforts were certainly translating onto the pitch, with them seemingly becoming the missing eleventh man for Lowestoft.
Lowestoft now had a real spring to their step and a great belief in their play, as they went to three at the back with Mason, Haynes-Brown and Lowestoft as a whole team pushing up with sixty minutes gone. Every single player was putting in such a shift and with a further five minutes on the clock, it happened; Lowestoft were level and had astonishingly fought back from three down with ten men. Following some great build up play and a sweet Jarvis pass to find Haynes-Brown on the left, he rolled the ball across to Reed in front of the goal to send the travelling supporters into dreamland and the score to 3-3 (65 mins). Solihull were clearly stunned and there frustrations spilled out in a horror tackle from Gough that left Mason writhing in pain on the deck and the left back lucky to have only got a booking for the foul. Fortunately for Lowestoft, their new signing eventually rose to his feet and was able to continue.
Lowestoft supporters were still trying to digest what they had seen from their team, when Okay lifted a ball over the top to set Reed away for what could have been the lead but with the striker lifting his effort over the keeper, it agonisingly ended up the wrong side of the post.
Twenty minutes were now remaining and what a game it had been so far, with Lowestoft having fought back with a great commitment and flow to their play.
Naturally and as expected, a few battle worn legs were starting to show for Lowestoft as Solihull saw their best second half spell of possession but Lowestoft were defending and covering really well at the back. A double change by the home side in the space of a few minutes saw Lowestoft get pushed deeper and deeper but it was a great tussle and every white shirt was defending like trojans for Lowestoft with ten minutes remaining.
Bammant replaced a tired and battle worn Reed with five minutes left, as Lowestoft looked to see out an astonishing point. An Ainsley effort was drilled wide for Lowestoft as three minutes of stoppage time were indicated. The three minutes felt like an hour with a number of long throws being sent into the Lowestoft box by Solihull but the Trawlerboys held out and on the final whistle had secured a monumental comeback that will be etched in many people's memories for a long, long time.
Both of the opening goals had been very poor defensively for Lowestoft and with a third goal coupled with Lowestoft going down to ten, it looked like a horror show. However, against one of the form sides in the league and a very good side; a fully deserved point had been loaded onto the coach back to the Crown Meadow.
Every single player had put in an outstanding second half effort and on top of that new signing, Mason had put in an accomplished debut.
The second half defending and covering at the back was simply superb and the midfield were excellent throughout, making the game appear as though Lowestoft were not the side with ten men.
However, I can only award the Man of the Match award to one player. It was a close call but with him scoring a great header, playing a big part in the equaliser and putting in a dynamic and productive midfield performance; my Man of the Match is Rossi Jarvis.
On behalf of the management and players, a huge thank you has to go out to our travelling supporters today, who were simply outstanding in their vocal support.
Lowestoft Town now have a most welcomed midweek break, before turning their attentions to the first round proper of the FA Trophy when Dover Athletic arrive at the Crown Meadow on Saturday.