Oxford City 2 Lowestoft Town 1
A draw would have been a fair result but Lowestoft pay the price for not taking their chances, as Oxford come from behind to win 2-1.
Our Main Sponsor:- Smith Bros Timber
Oxford City: Scott, Coulson, Stonehouse, Fofana, Henderson, Lapoujade, Benjamin, Pond (Obot 66 mins), Yussuf, Jackson, Winters (Wilson 83 mins)
Subs not used; Rodriquez, Barcelos
Lowestoft Town: Jones, Ainsley, Sowunmi, Gaughran (Radomski 63 mins), Eagle, Mason, Jarvis, Fisk, Bammant, Reed (Henderson 87 mins), Crow (Woods-Garness 37 mins)
Subs not used; Zielonka, Jessup
Prior to the match Lowestoft Town had agreed with Ipswich Town to have Sowunmi on a month long loan again and he went straight into the side in place of Gleeson.
Lee Smith was serving the first of a three match suspension after his sending off at gloucester, while Gleeson was unwell and Okay was unavailable. Fisk and Bammant replaced Okay and Lee Smith in the starting line up and Lowestoft received a boost by naming Henderson on the bench.
The match got underway during drizzly conditions on a very boggy pitch that was heavily sanded in places and had all the makings of turning into a mud bath.
Lowestoft were in yellow and hoping the conditions weren't going to lead to even further injuries in the squad.
There was very little to talk about in the opening fifteen minutes as both sides struggled on the very heavy and sticky surface. It wasn't until just after the fifteen minute mark that the first opportunity came and it was for Oxford with leading scorer Yussuf being fed in but Sowunmi was alert to make a great tackle to deny him. However, the ball went into the path of Winters and he sent a swerving effort just past the far upright. At the other end a couple of Ainsley corners were punched clear by Scott in the hosts goal, as Lowestoft and Mason in particular tried to force their way into the game.
An Oxford break from deep saw Lowestoft defend well really well and it was clear already that a great battle was being staged between Sowunmi and Yussuf. While in midfield, Mason was making every effort to try and make something happen for Lowestoft.
The ball was now becoming increasingly more difficult to control on a dead pitch but Lowestoft were growing into the game as both Fisk and Jarvis were making their presence felt. An Eagle free-kick from the right was headed behind by the hosts and then moments later the keeper, Scott was forced to tip over a great effort by Gaughran.
At the other end the Lowestoft defence were looking fairly solid but Pond had the goal to aim at when a ball made its way across to him from the right but his effort from the edge of the area was poor and wasted.
Just under ten minutes of the half now remained and with Crow having fallen heavily on his shoulder earlier in the match, the forward could no longer continue and was replaced by Woods-Garness. A chance at both ends saw a flicked header by Reed go straight down the keepers throat for Lowestoft and Jackson failed to connect when in a good position for Oxford.
The half was about to come to a close but Lowestoft were presented with a good opportunity to have a strike at goal with Reed trying to turn Henderson on the edge of the area and being brought to ground for a free-kick. Up stepped Eagle, who had already delivered well from earlier free-kicks but this time it was a shot and what an effort it was, as he drilled the ball superbly through a crowded area and into the back of the net for a great goal and a 1-0 halftime lead (45 mins).
The second half got underway with Jackson drilling an early effort for the hosts right into the head of Gaughran, who required treatment afterwards.
Oxford had certainly come out looking to inject some tempo into their play and with Benjamin getting onto a ball in the Lowestoft area, Fisk had little choice but to go for the tackle. However, the stretching tackle of Fisk brought down Benjamin and gave the referee no choice but to point to the spot. Up stepped Oxford's leading scorer, Yussuf and he made no mistake in dispatching the spot kick down the middle to draw things level at 1-1 (51 mins).
The goal had lifted the hosts who were now showing good movement and tempo in their football, with Lowestoft needing to get a foot on the ball to regulate some of the play. A drilled effort from distance by Fofana went inches past the post with Jones diving to his left but then a very questionable decision robbed Lowestoft at the other end. As Woods-Garness was returning from an offside position, Reed was played into space on the left but the linesman astonishingly flagged for offside when Reed was onside and Woods-Garness was nowhere near the play.
The sixty minute mark had now been reached and it had been a really gritty performance by Lowestoft, who had Mason providing the drive from midfield and Sowunmi putting in an authoritative display at the back.
Yussuf remained a danger for the home side but the battle between him and Sowunmi was being won by the impressive Ipswich loanee, as another brilliant tackle by the defensive giant denied Yussuf.
The injury woes of Lowestoft had already continued with the loss of Crow and were added to even further when after being struck in the head earlier, Gaughran was suffering with blurred vision and had to be replaced by Radomski. The meant that yet again Jarvis was called upon to fill in at the back for an unfortunate Lowestoft.
Oxford made their first change when Obot came on for Pond and just moments later they had a great chance to take the lead. Jackson was looking dangerous on the ball and with him finding right back Coulson in the area, he laid the ball across to Winters who was just two yards out but with him looking certain to score, he got the ball tangled under his feet for a truly awful miss.
Twenty minutes now remained and with Mason still carrying the main danger for Lowestoft, a crazy five minutes ensued in which either side could and should have won the game. Firstly it was Mason who got in behind for the visitors to put a good ball across the face of goal but Henderson was close to the goal for Oxford and cleared the danger. Then straight up the other end a ball over the top sent Yussuf clear but the superb Sowunmi not only battled back but did enough to unsettle the striker who's effort ended up hitting the post instead of finding the target. It was then the turn of Woods-Garness with two good opportunities, of which the first was a real let off for Oxford. Mason played in the Montserrat striker for the first effort and with just the keeper to beat he went for the chip but his lack of sharpness saw the chip misguided and past the post, when he should have scored. Then just moments later he was in again and even though the chance was a harder one to take, the result was unfortunately the same for Woods-Garness and Lowestoft.
It had been a crazy five minute spell and the game was now really opening up as Mason located Woods-Garness again but with him trying to get beyond the keeper, another opportunity went begging. Lowestoft really should have been leading by this point but were frustratingly still level, as Ainsley went into the book and became the third booking for Lowestoft on the day.
Ten minutes now remained and neither side were settling for anything except the win, as Oxford made their second change of the day with Wilson replacing Winters.
It was looking like being a point a piece as the match entered the final stages but then Lowestoft felt the full impact of missed opportunities. Obot opened Lowestoft up and it briefly looked as if the Trawlerboys had cleared the danger but they hadn't and Yussuf was at hand to thump a winner home and turn a one goal deficit into a 2-1 lead (84 mins).
Lowestoft introduced Henderson for Reed but the home side were now playing down the clock and nearly grabbed a third at the death but following a good dummy, the execution of the shot was poor.
The final whistle sounded shortly afterwards and Lowestoft were left knowing that missed opportunities had been the cause of them not getting what they deserved from the game.
It had been a good and gritty performance on the road by Lowestoft and even though misses had costs them dearly, there were plenty of positives to be taken from the game. Ainsley looked solid in his more familiar right back position, while Fisk and in particular Jarvis, put in workmanlike efforts in midfield.
Mason was a threat all afternoon with his pace and drive but also played a big part in defending from the front and winning the ball back on a number of occasions. However, he was pipped to the Man of the Match honours by a defensive performance that contained great awareness, great authority and at times some brilliant tackles up against one of the leagues leading scorers in Adi Yussuf. My Man of the Match was the excellent Omar Sowunmi.
Lowestoft Town are in action again next Saturday when they head out on the road again, this time to Bradford Park Avenue.