Lowestoft Town 1 Colwyn Bay 1
Gleeson sees red as Lowestoft Town and Colwyn Bay battle out a 1-1 draw to share the spoils at the Crown Meadow.
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Lowestoft Town: Jones, Ainsley, Gleeson, Gaughran, Eagle, Mason (Fisk 59 mins), Jarvis (Radomski 86 mins), Okay, Lee Smith, Reed, Crow (Bammant 90 mins)
Subs not used; Woods-Garness, Jessup
Colwyn Bay: Sanna, Taylor, Moss, Wilson, Lea, Royle, Anoruo, Noone (Haywood 77 mins), Hopley, Baynes, Buckley
Subs not used; Rees, Oladade, Saiel, Bove
Due to injuries at the back and loanee Sowunmi returning to Ipswich Town, it was a patched up Lowestoft defence with Eagle coming in at left back. Mason was also given a start in place of Bammant, who was joined on the bench by the returning Radomski.
Colwyn Bay were boosted by the inclusion of their leading scorer Anoruo, with him having got injured last time out.
The match got underway on a calm day on the east coast, on a heavy pitch. As a patched up Lowestoft side fielded Eagle at left back while Lee Smith moved left wing and Mason took up position on the right wing.
It was a really open start to the game with both sides finding plenty of space early on and with the game just four minutes old the visitors took a controversial lead. A ball over the top from midfield by Royle found Buckley in what appeared to be an offside position but with the linesman keeping his flag by his side, Buckley proceeded and slotted home for 1-0 (4 mins). It was a decision that left the Lowestoft players and a large section of the home crowd incensed and moments later Gleeson went into the book for continuing his protests against the questionable decision by the officials.
The blues tried to shake the disappointment off when Eagle and Lee Smith combined well down the left on ten minutes but were handed another sharp reminder shortly afterwards when Anoruo beat Eagle for pace and if not for a weak effort at Jones, Lowestoft could have been further adrift.
Lowestoft needed to hit back quickly and they did exactly that with Mason feeding in Reed and the striker settling himself before finishing calmly for 1-1 and his ninth goal of the season (12 mins). It was another close call from an offside point of view but with Reed timing his movement perfectly and little in the way of complaint coming from the visitors, the match was level.
The game was still very open with little in the way of defence from either side, as Buckley worked space for a shot from distance for Colwyn Bay but Jones was positioned well to claim the ball in.
An Eagle free-kick at the other end found Crow lurking in the area but his downward glanced header zipped past the bottom of the far post.
Thirty minutes had now gone and with the pitch starting to cut up both sides were finding it difficult to control the ball at times. However, the blues midfield was already looking much improved from last weekend with both Jarvis and Okay winning balls and Mason and Lee Smith looking to provide the threat from the flanks.
Threats on goal had been few and far between so far though but the visitors were denied when a corner found its way to Buckley on the edge of the Lowestoft area and his shot was cleared off the goal line by a well positioned Mason.
At the other end a well hit long ball by Gleeson saw Reed control it brilliantly, to bring the ball down and come inside his defender to shoot but an offside flag stopped him before he could get a shot away, as five minutes of the half remained. The game continued in a to-and-fro fashion as a shot from distance by the visitors forced Jones to get down well and turn it round the base of the post.
As halftime approached it was the blues who were carrying more of the threat though and with a miss-hit delivery by Mason having to be punched over by Sanna in the Colwyn Bay goal, the blues sensed a halftime lead. The resulting Eagle corner also had to be punched behind by the keeper and from that second corner a header across goal by Jarvis saw the visitors scramble the ball away.
Then moments later a nice touch by Eagle found Ainsley on the right and his delivery across found Gaughran, who was still up field but the defender couldn't connect with any force and the visitors survived.
The half was finally brought to a close and it had been an open half in which both sides were desperate for the win.
Reed has been putting in some magnificent performances in recent weeks, not just by scoring but also in his high level of work rate and it was Reed who was involved for the blues early in the second half. The striker showed superb work to make something out of what looked like a hopeless position in the corner, as he worked his way to the touchline and into a dangerous position before finding Crow, who's clever flick was just inches from finding its target.
Lowestoft had certainly come out looking the better team but the game still had a slightly tense feel to it, with neither side wanting to lose this crucial encounter between two sides looking to maintain their Conference league status come the end of the season.
The visitors were offering very little early on in the second period but were given a massive boost when Buckley went to go past Gleeson and was adjudged to be pulled back. Buckley had certainly done Gleeson for pace on the turn and was certainly going to get away from him but with him going down very easily, it helped the referee in showing the Lowestoft captain a second booking and reducing the blues to ten with just over ten minutes of the second half gone.
The Trawlerboys were now rattled as the visitors looked to try and claim every decision. A quick response to the sending off came from the Lowestoft bench to ensure the defence remained intact, as Fisk replaced Mason and Jarvis dropped to centre half.
Lowestoft are fighters though and even with them being a man short they rolled their sleeves up and tried to find something. Great work yet again by Reed saw the striker win possession and find Ainsley, who picked the ball up and shifted it across defence to open up a shooting opportunity that was just inches past the foot of the far post.
Twenty minutes now remained and with Colwyn Bay carrying little threat and Lowestoft not showing too many ill effects of being down to ten; Reed continued to press the visiting defence with his quick feet and phenomenal work rate. The defence stood firm though and with Jones having to do brilliantly to hold a dangerous ball into the Lowestoft box at the other end; the game remained delicately poised as the final ten minutes approached. A change for Colwyn Bay saw Haywood replace Noone but Lowestoft were now seemingly playing with three at the back, wanting to try and get a crucial winner.
Just as the luck of the blues seemed like it couldn't get any worse in their already patched up defence; Jarvis then pulled up in his make-shift central defensive position and was replaced by Radomski as Lee Smith dropped back to take up defensive duties for the remainder.
A foul by Gaughran saw the defender go into the referees book when beaten for pace and bringing down Anoruo but the free-kick in a dangerous position came to nothing for the visitors.
A late change by Lowestoft saw Bammant replace Crow and as four minutes of stoppage time came and went, the whistle sounded and both sides were left with a point in a 1-1 draw.
It was a game in which a win for the blues would have gone a long way towards securing Conference football next season for them. However, taking into consideration the injuries and patched up defence coming into the game. Along with the sending off of Gleeson just after the break, it was a good point for the blues and maintained a gap between them and Colwyn Bay in the table.
The midfield of Lowestoft was non-existent last weekend but today saw both Jarvis and Okay winning their battles really well to give the blues a platform to try and build something from. Jarvis also filled in well defensively in the second half while Okay continued to work doggedly in the midfield. However, both of these players were pipped to the post when it comes to the Man of the Match. Reed practically put in two sets of ninety minutes worth of work rate and coupled with his all important goal, quick feet and a desire to get something from the game; he was the main threat and outlet for Lowestoft all match.
Man of the Match:- Jake Reed
Lowestoft Town now head out on the road again as they travel to Oxford City on Saturday.
The team needs your support and we all need to come together and pull in the same direction for the remaining games, to ensure that we give ourselves the best possibility of continuing to play at the highest level the club has ever played at.
Come on you blues!