Lowestoft Town 2 Gainsborough Trinity 0
Lowestoft Town get a richly deserved three points with a dominating performance in a 2-0 win over Gainsborough Trinity.
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Lowestoft Town: Jones, Ainsley, Gaughran, Haynes-Brown, Adam Smith, Mason, Jarvis, Fisk, Eagle, Reed (Woods-Garness 71 mins), Bammant
Subs not used; Okay, Marsden, Radomski, Jessup
Gainsborough Trinity: Budzt, Roma, Lacey, Binns, Salt, Picton, Bateson (Karkach 70 mins), Beesley (Forrest 46 mins), Margetts, Dixon, Roberts (Davie 65 mins)
Subs not used; Toner, Wisdom-Lockwood
Gleeson was missing after picking up a hamstring injury from the Boston game, as Haynes-Brown moved into central defence and Adam Smith dropped back to left back. Eagle was given the nod to come in on the left while Fisk replaced Okay, who was dropped to the bench.
Gainsborough had recently added to their ranks with both Dixon and Margetts joining them on loan from Premiership side Hull City prior to their boxing day 3-0 home win against North Ferriby United.
With a few non-league games falling to the weather, the match was on after an early morning inspection and got underway at a fresh but still Crown Meadow.
Lowestoft were straight out of the traps with Mason skinning Lacey at left back and finding Reed at the far post, who in turn touched the ball to Eagle but with him working the space for a shot, it was high and off target.
The first ten minutes had raced by and Mason was already carrying the early threat for the blues down the right but both sides were still settling into the game, as a few passes went astray.
Lowestoft were then handed an early lead after some rash goalkeeping by Budzt, pulling down Bammant in the area after the striker had brilliantly controlled the ball from an Ainsley delivery. Ainsley had already hit the mark on six occasions from the spot this season, so there was little doubt when the spot-master stroked home his seventh penalty and ninth goal of the season for 1-0 (13 mins).
Gainsborough had shown very little so far but came close when a cross come shot from the right fell nicely for Binns but he dragged his effort across goal and past the foot of the far post. It was only a brief moment of opportunity for the visitors though, as the blues really started to take the upper hand with Eagle and Adam Smith now seeing plenty of the ball and overlapping really well down the left.
Both flanks were having joy against the Gainsborough wing backs and with a great ball from the right by Ainsley, it looked to have found Reed perfectly but an excellent challenge by Picton in the visitors defence saw the danger averted.
It was already becoming frustrating for Gainsborough and that was added to when Beesley was booked after making no attempt to challenge Haynes-Brown in the air and sending the blues defender crashing to the ground from height. The resulting free-kick saw Lowestoft come close to doubling their lead with Adam Smith flighting the kick toward the right of the box and Gaughran sending a looping header onto the crossbar. The temperature on the pitch was certainly rising, as the temperature off it started to fall with thirty minutes gone. Fisk was winning plenty of tackles in the middle of the park but on the flip side had unusually given away a few passes, as both sides found the surface tricky to control the ball on at times.
As ten minutes of the half remained, Gainsborough started to have their best spell of the half and were seeing more of the ball. However, they were getting little change from a tight and very solid looking Lowestoft defence.
After a brief spell from the visitors it was the blues who wrestled play back again, with a downward header by Jarvis from an Eagle corner forcing the Gainsborough defence to scramble it away, after it had pinged around in the box.
Bammant had shown some nice lay offs during the half and with him laying one into the path of Eagle, his swerving shot looked like it was finding the top corner but just faded wide. Lowestoft had certainly come close to doubling their lead in the first forty-five, as the frustrations for the away side continued to grow with Salt going into the book on the stroke of halftime after a late tackle on Fisk.
A change during the break for the visitors saw an in-effective Beesley replaced by Forrest. An early free-kick in a dangerous position, presented itself to the the visitors after Haynes-Brown had overstretched in a tackle and gone into the book. The free-kick was dealt with by the blues and sent behind but from the resulting corner Salt sent a free header on target, only to be denied with Fisk perfectly placed to clear off the line.
The away side had come out looking to get back into the game early on, as Jones was forced to get down and save at the feet of Margetts, who had got the better of Haynes-Brown after going shoulder to shoulder before charging into the area.
Lowestoft were having to battle now and not for the first time in the match, Binns and Fisk came together in the middle with Binns on this occasion going into the book.
The battling attitude and commitment that is running through the Lowestoft squad at the moment was clear to see again and with the match heating up the blues were forcing themselves back into the game with fifteen minutes of the half gone. Both Ainsley and Adam Smith in particular were putting in performances that contained solid and no nonsense defending, while showing support and creativity down the flanks with the likes of Eagle and Mason in front of them.
A lifted ball forward by Haynes-Brown found Gaughran in a forward position and with him having the chance to shoot, Budzt was forced into action to turn his effort away. Moments later it was Lowestoft who were threatening again and on this occasion it should have been the second and possibly match settling goal. However, with Ainsley breaking into the area from the right and putting a ball across the box and on a plate for a certain goal for Bammant, the confidence ridden striker produced the miss of the season so far from just a yard out. Gainsborough were well and truly on the back foot now but with just one goal in it, Lowestoft needed the second and were hoping that the miss by Bammant wasn't going to be crucial.
A lovely reverse pass by Jarvis saw Mason get on the end but for all their pressure the second goal just wouldn't come for the Trawlerboys.
The visitors made their second change of the game with twenty-five minutes remaining and Davie coming on for Roberts. The new substitute was given a rather unwelcoming introduction to the game when Ainsley became the second Lowestoft player to go into the book after sending him sprawling; all be it rather theatrically.
A third and finally change was made by the visitors with the introduction of Karkach for Bateson with twenty minutes remaining. This was matched by Lowestoft who made their first change of the game with Woods-Garness replacing Reed, who had put in two extremely hardworking and effective shifts over the last three days.
The referees book was out again with Davie going into it for descent, as the visitors became more and more frustrated.
Just over ten minutes now remained and even though Lowestoft looked very comfortable, there was still only one goal in it and that lingering possibility that the opposition might somehow snatch something.
Those lingering doubts were blown away though with ten minutes remaining and a moment of brilliance from Adam Smith. With the left back making a superb tackle deep in his own half, he then turned to send a sublime defence splitting pass to Woods-Garness who added to the brilliance, finishing with aplomb with the outside of his boot for an excellent goal and 2-0 to the blues (80 mins).
Moments later it was the same combination again, as Adam Smith picked out Woods-Garness from deep but this time the strikers swerving effort flew over the bar. Gainsborough now looked beaten and with Mason finding Bammant it looked like the blues would add to their tally but the forwards effort across goal missed the target yet again.
Five minutes remained and it was now a sea of blue as a clearance on the line by Roma stopped Eagle from converting a Mason assist.
The game was won, Gainsborough were well and truly beaten and with the remaining minutes being professionally seen out by Lowestoft; the blues had secured a thoroughly deserved three points.
After having played so well at Boston United without getting their reward, it was another good team performance from Lowestoft. Everyone clicked yet again and there is a real level of consistency starting to come through.
It was a big plus to see a solid performance by everyone in the back four and to see the defence really tighten up and secured a much welcomed clean sheet. While it was also evident why the goal scoring chances are now coming for Lowestoft in games, with Reed in top form and the likes of Ainsley and Mason, and Adam Smith and Eagle supporting each other and overlapping really well down their respective flanks.
Mason was yet again a threat for most of the match and Ainsley put in a strong performance while also adding another important penalty to his tally. However, when it comes to the Man of the Match it was a real ten out of ten performance for one of Lowestoft's longest servicing players. With a performance that contained faultless defending, excellent positional play and a threatening quality and creativity, my Man of the Match is Adam Smith.
The festive games continue to come thick and fast with Lowestoft Town in action again on New Year's Day at the Crown Meadow, in the reverse fixture against Boston United.
We hope to see a number of you there, cheering the blues on and into 2015.