North Ferriby United 1 Lowestoft Town 2
Lowestoft Town go a long way towards securing Conference football next season with a superb performance and 2-1 win at North Ferriby United.
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North Ferriby United: Hedge, Topliss, Peat (Wilde 66 mins), King, Wilson, Anderson, Clarke, Bolder, Denton (Kendall 62 mins), Jarman (Bateson 72 mins), St Juste
Subs not used; Nicholson, Gray
Lowestoft Town: Jones, Lee Smith, Sowunmi, Gaughran, Adam Smith, Mason (Woods-Garness 80 mins), Fisk, Jarvis, Okay, Eagle (Henderson 68 mins), Reed (Bammant 90 mins)
Subs not used; Jessup, Radomski
Lowestoft Town arrived at the EON Visual Stadium after a tough journey for the players with hardly any life on the roads, let alone anything resembling a decent services.
In regards to team news; Ainsley was serving the final match of his suspension but Lee Smith had returned from his three match suspension and went straight into the starting line-up at right back, in a changed 4-5-1 formation for Lowestoft. Okay also got a starting berth with Bammant dropping to the bench and the blues were still without the injured Crow (shoulder) and Haynes-Brown (Knee).
The match got underway on a dry surface in windy conditions with the blues kicking into the wind and the sun in their faces also.
In the reverse fixture, Denton had towered above the blues defence but today he was up against the equally towering Sowunmi in the Lowestoft back four.
North Ferriby should have taken an early lead in just the fifth minute but with a ball from the right finding Jarman in front of goal, he completely missed his header when it looked like he was going to give the hosts the lead. North Ferriby were keeping it simple and were already looking good on the ball. While Lowestoft were being rushed at times and only able to send long, aimless balls forward in the opening exchanges.
It wasn't until the fifteenth minute until Lowestoft started to settle and with Eagle being found in the box, he did well before getting a shot away but the legs of Hedge in the hosts goal saw the ball behind for a corner.
The windy conditions were certainly making it tricky for both sides but Lowestoft had now fully settled and were seeing their fair share of the ball, with Jarvis playing higher up the pitch than normal and starting to have an effect for the blues.
Lowestoft were doing well considering they were kicking into the wind with the sun in their faces and yet again, Mason was putting himself about and full of his usual drive. While for the opposition, Jarman was looking to beat the offside trap but was being frustrated by a watchful Lowestoft back line that included Sowunmi, who was really judging the ball well in the windy conditions.
The Villagers were getting into the Trawlerboys half but were finding it hard to penetrate the blues defence. That was until St Juste was surrounded by Lee Smith and Mason out on the left flank but shook both players off with some sharp footwork to get away and break into the Lowestoft box but his final ball was claimed on the deck by Jones. Thirty minutes had now passed and it was all fairly even stuff but moments later the referee and his officials faced a big decision. A ball was aimed up field by Lowestoft towards Reed out on the right flank and with the home keeper racing out to meet him and Reed looking to go past, Hedge wiped the striker out and was very lucky to only be shown the yellow card. The resulting free-kick ended up dropping in the area and with both Gaughran and the keeper going for the ball, the referee adjudged that Gaughran had connected with the keeper and booked the aggrieved defender with five minutes of the half remaining.
Half time arrived and Lowestoft had done well to hold out with the wind and sun against them and even though the hosts had put more balls into the box from the flanks than what Lowestoft had, the blues had defended really well.
Lowestoft reappeared for the second half with the wind and sun now behind them and took little time in applying pressure to the hosts with a good tempo to their play.
Jarvis was yet again pushing higher up the pitch and with him being fouled twenty yards from goal, a free-kick in a good position presented itself to Lowestoft. Both Jarvis and Lee Smith took up position to take it but with Jarvis stepping over it and Lee Smith placing a low, bending shot into the net, the blues were 1-0 up (51 mins). Lowestoft nearly doubled their lead in doubly quick time and it was Jarvis who was involved again, sending a good shot at goal from the angle to force the save.
Lowestoft looked full of purpose and were worthy of their lead but the lead was only a narrow one and just before the hour mark the hosts hit back against the run of play. The Lowestoft bench were appealing for a couple of fouls prior to the blues getting caught in possession at the back but nothing was given and with Fisk fouling Denton in the area, it was a penalty to North Ferriby. Up stepped King and it looked like Jones had pulled off a great save for the blues to deny him but the save had only pushed the ball onto the post, as it rebounded back into the goal and it was all level at 1-1 (58 mins).
The game was now heating up with the home side guilty of some persistent fouling but every Lowestoft player was working hard and the whole team were working for each other with a belief in their play that three points were there for the taking.
A five minute spell saw both sides look to the bench as North Ferriby introduced Kendall and Wilde for Denton and the hot-headed Peat. While Lowestoft replaced Eagle with Henderson.
Lowestoft were holding all the cards though and with a Lee Smith ball over the top of the hosts defence, Reed was in on goal and had the chance to reclaim the lead for the blues. However, after composing himself his lobbed effort wasn't good enough and was all too easy for the keeper to claim, as a great chance went begging. A further change by North Ferriby saw them introduce Bateson for Jarman but it had little effect as Lowestoft continued to press well, while also working hard as a team to deal with and stifle the opposition when they were in possession.
As the final fifteen arrived Lowestoft thought they had finally got their winner with an Adam Smith corner reaching Jarvis at the far post but with him doing well to get on the end of it, he had to agonisingly watch it hit the post and go out of play.
Ten minutes now remained and it was time for Woods-Garness to be introduced into the fray, as he replaced Mason and Lowestoft went hunting for the win.
The clock kept ticking and it was looking as if the blues would have to settle for a point but just five minutes after coming on and five minutes from time, Lowestoft grabbed the winner with a fantastic goal. Great work on the left by Woods-Garness saw him send a delightful cross into the area and with Reed rising superbly from twelve yards out, his magnificent and powerful header could only be helped into the roof of the net by Hedge for 2-1 (85 mins). It really was a wonderful goal and things nearly got worse for the hosts moments late when Fisk floated a lovely ball over the defence for an advancing Jarvis but the keeper was onto him quickly to stifle the opportunity for the blues to kill the game.
Lowestoft looked home and dry but not before surviving a great through ball by the hosts that ended with Clarke finishing poorly. It would have been harsh on Lowestoft had North Ferriby stole an equaliser at the death but with Bammant replacing the match winning Reed and Lowestoft seeing down the clock, it was a much deserved win and a performance that fully merited the three points.
On top of the three points, other results had also gone well for Lowestoft, who have now extended their lead over the relegation placed teams to ten points.
It really had been an outstanding performance by the blues with every player having stepped up to the mark and the whole side working for each other throughout.
In the first half in particular, Sowunmi won his headers and judged the ball brilliantly in the windy conditions. While the vocal instructions, support and very solid kicking of Jones provided a great base for the team from the back.
Lee Smith was asked to fill the right back berth on his return and did well defensively and offensively, while adding to his performance with a well taken free-kick. Man of the Match honours go to Rossi Jarvis though, who put in a fantastic display that was full of intent. He really excelled in a role that saw him more advanced than normal and with a bit of luck he could have easily of been on the score sheet. Man of the Match - Rossi Jarvis