Gloucester City 2 Lowestoft Town 0
Lowestoft Town go from their best performance of the season to their worst in a 2-0 defeat at Gloucester City.
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Gloucester City: Paul White, Green, Jones, Harris, Avery, Knowles, Orenuga (Connolly 69 mins), Webb, Harry White (Diop 77 mins), Kabba, Hall
Subs not used; Richards, Griffin, James
Lowestoft Town: Jones, Sowunmi, Gleeson, Gaughran, Ainsley, Lee Smith, Okay (Eagle 77 mins), Jarvis, Bammant (Fisk 58 mins), Reed (Mason 69 mins), Crow
Subs not used; Woods-Garness, Jessup
Fisk returned from suspension for Lowestoft and was named on the bench alongside the also returning Eagle, as Zielonka made way. The starting line-up was unchanged for Lowestoft but the formation was the same as it was at the end of last weeks match, with Gleeson starting in the middle of defence and Sowunmi at right back.
A minutes silence preceded kick-off to remember nineteen year old Zac Evans who was murdered in a knife-crime attack in Turley last week.
The match got underway at the ground of Cheltenham Town on a very cold day and after a few minutes of head tennis the first chances of the game came along for both sides. First it was the hosts with Gaughran beaten from a header and Kabba getting in behind but Ainsley was across to get a block in before Gaughran got back to clear up. Then moments later it was the dangerous Kabba involved again as a Knowles delivery from the right beat the towering Sowunmi, allowing Kabba a free header from six yards out but he headed wide when he should have scored.
At the other end, Jarvis headed down and into the path of Reed from a Lee Smith corner but the striker saw his effort somehow saved by Paul White from just a couple of yards out.
Gloucester were looking strong at the back but the pace and guile of Reed was evident again in the blues forward line. However, on the ten minute mark the hosts lost their recent signing and danger-man, with the linesman getting the referees attention and Kabba being sent off for kicking out at Gleeson in a coming together between the pair. It was a blow for Gloucester and a boost for Lowestoft but with it being a striker it wasn't going to change the hosts shape and wasn't going to open the game up too much more.
As the fifteen minute mark arrived it was clear that the pace of Gloucester was going to cause the blues defence some issues and this was evident when Orenuga beat Gleeson to a ball at the back before seeing his squared pass cut out by Sowunmi at the back. The Lowestoft defence were certainly lacking in sharpness and in front of them the blues midfield was non-existent, as Gloucester started to look at ease on the ball. However, the game had now gone a little flat since the sending off. That was until the home side should have taken the lead with a lovely threaded ball finding Orenuga and him laying it on a plate for Harry White but with an open goal at his mercy from one yard out, he unbelievably sent the ball over the bar much to the disbelief of the home supporters.
The officials were already getting the backs up of both sets of supporters with some questionable decisions and with Webb getting a booking after going through the back of Gleeson, it looked like they were losing control of the game. From the resulting free-kick, Lee Smith delivered from deep and Sowunmi was only inches away from getting on the end in the hosts six yard box.
Another questionable decision then followed by the officials with the already booked Webb catching Bammant late but the justified cries for a second booking were ignored as the referee delivered a warning to Webb.
Gloucester were now looking a little ruffled and Lowestoft were seeing a bit more of the ball as a Lee Smith corner saw Sowunmi come close again, this time sliding in but seeing his attempt go the wrong side of the post.
Five minutes of the half remained and it was looking like being level at the break but then calamity struck for Lowestoft and Jones in goal. A ball over the top saw Harry White bearing down on goal but with Jones looking to get there he caught the forward inside the box and gave the referee no choice but to give a penalty. Worse could have followed, as there could have been little complaint if a red card had of been shown but the ball seemingly going away from goal had saved him and it was just a yellow. Up stepped left back, Jones to slot the spot kick home past his namesake to give the host a 1-0 lead at the break, as both sets of supporters loudly booed the officials down the tunnel.
The cold weather was now really biting as the second half got underway with Lowestoft needing to use their midfield more and a roaring Gallagher on the touchline asking for his side to 'give it more'.
The first five minutes of the half saw the linesman on the near touchline continuing his friendly and unprofessional chats with the home dugout but with just two further minutes passing, another poor decision was dealt out by the referee. As Lee Smith and Knowles went in together for what looked a 50/50 tackle, Lee Smith was called over and surprisingly shown a straight red card as the numbers on either side were balanced up and the travelling supporters looked on in disbelief.
This knocked out what little stuffing was in Lowestoft and with Hall breaking away and feeding in Orenuga, it looked like he had a lot to do but his shot at goal went through Jones at the near post to heap more misery on Jones and Lowestoft, making it 2-0 (54 mins).
A response was required from a poor performing Lowestoft side as Fisk replaced Bammant. However, everything was going long, totally bypassing the midfield and giving the impression that the game was already over for the blues with just under twenty second half minutes gone. In order to try and improve the aimless long balls from deep and to get some passing going on the deck, Jarvis was now dropping back as a deep playmaker to try and get some possession and passing going for the blues. However, it had minimal impact with every blue shirt putting in a well below par performance and coming off second best in all departments.
Gloucester made their first change of the game with Connolly replacing Orenuga and at the same time Lowestoft made their second change with Mason replacing Reed, who had been left to feed off scraps all game.
There was still little in the way of improvement for the blues though and a third goal nearly arrived for the hosts as Webb got the better of Ainsley on the touchline and headed in towards goal, beating Jones but seeing Sowunmi at hand to clear the danger from close range.
It was looking all too easy for Gloucester against a narrow looking Lowestoft who were devoid of quality and ideas with fifteen minutes remaining.
Tired legs were now on show and heads were dropping a little as Hall eased into the Lowestoft defence before cutting inside to force a save from Jones. It was all looking very disjointed for the blues as both sides made another change with Diop replacing Harry White for Gloucester and Eagle replacing Okay for Lowestoft.
Diop was straight into the game showing drive and pace, licking his lips at getting just over ten minutes against a weary looking blues defence. Diop beat Ainsley on the halfway line and broke clear as the hosts looked to increase the score but quality was lacking in the final third as the hosts made a mess of their opportunity.
Five minutes remained and this soon became five minutes of injury time, as a frustrated Ainsley completely wiped out Green and was lucky to just see yellow.
It was a challenge that had been born out of frustration, in a game that in truth could have seen the home side win by four or five goals. The final whistle eventually sounded to bring a miserable match to a close and a match in which the Gloucester defence probably had their easiest game of the season.
It was always going to be another tough away game but it was the manor of the defeat that made it hard to swallow, with an unrecognisable performance compared to last weeks exploits. Yes the officiating was very poor and spoilt the game for both sides but Lowestoft could have little argument with the result.
It's normally tough to find a Man of the Match but on this occasion it's tough for all the wrong reasons. Sowunmi continued to show signs of being a promising young footballer, cutting out some balls at the back and getting on the end of some chances at the other end. While Reed and Crow yet again worked hard but were drastically let down by service. Jarvis at times was as guilty as others for a lack of quality on the ball. However, his performance was better than those around him and he did make the effort of dropping back as playmaker to try and drive a poor looking Lowestoft from deep. Therefore my Man of the Match is Rossi Jarvis.
It was one of those games that's best just forgotten and put to bed but working on the negatives and going again in the next match to put them right.
Lowestoft Town are next in action on Saturday when they return to the Crown Meadow and welcome Colwyn Bay.