Lowestoft Town 1 Boston United 1
Boston United lose their heads, ending with ten men as Lowestoft Town come from behind but can't take full advantage in a 1-1 draw.
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Lowestoft Town: Jones, Ainsley, Gaughran, Haynes-Brown (Okay 34 mins), Smith, Mason, Jarvis, Fisk, Eagle, Reed, Bammant (Woods-Garness 82 mins)
Subs not used; Marsden, Radomski, Jessup
Boston United: Dixon, Marrs, Steer, Mills, Garner, Piergianni, Felix (Marshall 61 mins), McGhee (Hollingsworth 73 mins), Southwell, Jones, Walker (Simmons 73 mins)
Subs not used; Newsham, Vince
Boston United brought into their starting line-up new signing and winger Nicky Walker from Rotherham. While new loan signing and striker from Lincoln City, Alex Simmons was named on the bench for The Pilgrims.
Lowestoft Town chose the same sixteen in an unchanged line-up from their last match against Gainsborough Trinity.
Prior to the game getting underway a good travelling contingent of away supporters had gathered in the shed and were making plenty of noise. While the Lowestoft supporters, with drum, were responding to them from behind the goal.
The match got underway at a cold and windy Crown Meadow with Lowestoft kicking into the wind.
Boston came close to the best of starts early on when a ball from the left appeared to catch the wind and with Adam Smith missing it as a result, Felix was able to get on the end and get a shot away but Jones saved.
Boston were playing with a high tempo right from the off and looking for an early foothold as a few long throws into the Lowestoft box from Mills put early pressure on the blues defence in the first ten minutes. However, as the fifteen minute mark arrived the blues were easing themselves into the game and picking up some possession of their own after a good start by the visitors.
A Bammant cross from the left found Jarvis just inside the area but his header lacked enough power from distance and failed to trouble Dixon in the Boston goal.
Boxing Day saw Lowestoft suffer bad luck in some poor decisions made by the officials and just before the twenty minute mark that bad luck continued with Walker picking a ball up on the edge of the area and his effort taking a wicked deflection to leave Jones stranded, as it sneaked into the net for 1-0 to Boston (19 mins).
Lowestoft were finding it difficult to put any sort of sustained spell of possession together and with Mason appearing to have two men on him for most of the time, the Boston goal was looking well protected by a tight defence. It wasn't just the visitors defence that was looking tight either, as a couple of long balls had looked like reaping rewards for Boston but Haynes-Brown was in a bullish mood, superbly dealing with everything against a good forward line of Southwell and Jones.
Thirty minutes had gone and even though Boston were edging possession and seemingly getting most of the breaks, it was a game in which both defences were firmly on top.
The best chance of the half for Lowestoft came from an Eagle corner with a glancing header from Jarvis just going wide of the upright but then the blues were dealt a blow. After having started the game so well in a commanding defensive performance, Haynes-Brown went down injured off the ball and had to be replaced by Okay, with Jarvis being asked to drop into central defence. Following the change and straight from the restart, the blues put some good football together that ended with Bammant squaring to a sliding in Reed in the box but the keeper was quick in going to ground and smothering the chance. Moments later a long ball from Ainsley picked out Bammant again but with him not having the pace of his striking partner, the Boston defence closed in and Mills cleared up.
Lowestoft were ending the half well though and with Reed breaking away the strikers options were narrowed by the visitors defence but he was able to find his partner Bammant, only for him to kick the ground and ball at the same time, sending a very soft effort at Dixon in the Boston goal.
A drilled, rising effort by Southwell went wide of the target as the half came to a close with both defences on top and just a luckily deflected goal separating the two sides.
The second half saw Lowestoft come out with the wind behind them and an opportunity to maybe test the visitors keeper from distance more often. However, it was Boston who came out on the front foot and if not for two great saves in quick succession by Jones, Lowestoft could have been further behind. The first save came from a break with Walker running onto a ball before being denied by a great Jones save and then from the corner it was McGhee who connected with a good header but yet again it was Jones who equalled it with another super save.
Ten second half minutes had now passed and with the visitors still holding the upper hand possession wise, Fisk started to throw his body around everywhere in a dogged attempt to try and get some spells of possession going for his side.
Then came a key moment in the game with Boston having a handball penalty claim turned down and them boiling over and reacting to the decision badly, leading to a big brawl between every player on the pitch. The officials just stood back and noted events with arms and legs flying in the melee and once the situation had returned to normal the officials called over players from both sides and the resulting outcome was a Boston sending off for Steer and a booking for both Fisk of Lowestoft and Piergianni of Boston.
Two further minutes were on the clock after the incident, when Lowestoft got back into the game and Piergianna found himself lucky not to get a second booking and an early shower with his team mate. As Okay controlled the ball and looked to flick it over Piergianni in the Boston area, the defender handled the ball and it was a penalty to Lowestoft. The amount of penalties the team are winning in recent times is testament to the threat they're now causing in opponents boxes and with Ainsley as the master penalty taker the blues are reaping the rewards. This penalty had pressure on it though with the game delicately poised and a chance for the blues to level against ten men. Up stepped Ainsley and with the keeper having no doubt remembered his penalty from Boxing Day, he could still do very little as Ainsley powered the spot kick high and into the net for 1-1 (59 mins). The equaliser prompted a change from the visitors as Marshall entered the fray in place of Felix in the Pilgrims midfield.
The hosts then saw an opportunity arrive to go ahead but with a long ball from Gaughran heading right for Bammant in front of goal, the confidence ridden striker failed to attack the ball and a good chance frustratingly went begging.
A booking for McGhee was just rewards after fouling Mason and sending him down hard while in full flight, leaving the right wing dynamo with a painful shoulder. Lowestoft were now pressing though and the visitors were starting to give away a large number of fouls while accumulating a few more yellow cards with twenty minutes now remaining.
Some lovely trickery on the ball by Eagle allowed him to work a chance from the middle of the pitch but the scores remained level as he dragged his effort fractionally the wrong side of the post.
Boston had now lost their heads and a bit of their shape, with the hard working Fisk and Okay now running and winning the midfield battle. It was a situation that saw the Boston management team respond with a double change from the bench as Simmons and Hollingsworth replaced Walker and McGhee.
The blues were now seeing a good level of possession but were unfortunately coming up a little short in the quality of their deliveries and final balls. This wasn't the case for Boston though and in a brief respite for them, Southwell got the better of Gaughran to get in behind and find Simmons but the loanee sent his shot from close in the wrong side of the post. The game had now really opened up and even though they were down to ten, Boston were not sitting off and both sides were going for it with ten minutes remaining.
Woods-Garness replaced Bammant and an Adam Smith effort along the deck from distance came close for the blues but the Boston defence was standing firm and Lowestoft were still struggling to find the quality required to fully open them up.
At the other end the hosts had goalkeeper Jones to thank again, with them not clearing and a ball from the right seeing Southwell show good strength to get on the end of it but Jones had positioned himself well to make another great save.
Seven minutes of stoppage time had now been signalled and with Lowestoft getting a break away and outnumbering the Boston defence, it looked like the blues would grab all three points. However with Woods-Garness selfishly keeping the ball when options were available to his right and left, Boston closed ranks and the dangerous break came to nothing. To their credit, Boston had never sat back with their ten men and as the stoppage time minutes started to tick away, they were the side who looked to have the man advantage. Southwell, who had won his individual battle against Gaughran for most of the match , got round the back again but yet again Jones was there, this time smothering the effort in the Lowestoft goal.
Lowestoft's best hopes now were to hang on for the remaining minutes and take a point and as the final whistle sounded some were left feeling like it was two points dropped but others saw it as a good point with Jones having made three great saves in the second half.
It has been a tough festive period with games coming thick and fast and at times this was evident in tired legs on both sides. It was a point a piece though and in summary it was a fair result with Lowestoft having never really taken advantage of the ten men and the visitors defending well throughout and to their credit never sitting back at any point in the game.
There were a number of worthy Man of the Match winners in a battling and draining performance for the blues and up until going off injured it was Haynes-Brown who was looking as solid as a rock. However to name a few; Fisk had put his body in everywhere, Jarvis showed good positional awareness when being asked to move into defence and Adam Smith had another great game. While Lowestoft also had a lot to thank Jones for with three great second half saves to keep the game alive for them.
The choice was a tough one and after canvassing a few views from various people after the game to help me with the decision; the outcome was as per the platinum math sponsors decision. With a strong individual performance being added to with another under pressure penalty for his tenth goal of the season, my Man of the Match is Jack Ainsley.
Lowestoft Town travel up to Blackpool on Saturday and will be in action on the Sunday when they face AFC Fylde, who are yet to be beaten at home this season.