Lowestoft Town 1 Worcester City 1
A stoppage time goal by Reed rescues a point for Lowestoft Town in a 1-1 draw against Worcester City, with a brawl at the end seeing both end with ten
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Lowestoft Town: Jones, Ainsley, Sowunmi, Gaughran, Adam Smith, Fisk (Okay 63 mins), Jarvis, Lee Smith, Eagle (Woods-Garness 84 mins), Henderson (Bammant 79 mins), Reed
Subs not used; Haynes-Brown, Marsden
Worcester City: Vaughan, Haynes, Weir, Elvins, Rowe, Denny, Nti, Deeney, Symons, Dunkley (Brown 82 mins), Sousa (Veiga 90+ mins)
Subs not used; Charles, Taylor, Smith
Worcester City came into the match missing the suspended pair of Geddes and Khan. While Lowestoft Town made two changes with Eagle and Reed coming in for Okay and Bammant who both dropped to the bench. Also on the bench for the blues was Woods-Garness, having only just returned from a week's international duty with Montserrat.
It was a sunny afternoon at the Crown Meadow as the match got underway, with Lowestoft setting up in a 4-2-3-1 formation that had Jarvis and Fisk sitting deep and an attacking midfield trio of Henderson, Eagle and Lee Smith sat behind lone striker Reed.
It was clear from the off that the visitors wanted to get balls into the Lowestoft box and were also going to use the long throw of Deeney. The game was just two minutes old when one of these long throws from Deeney found Dunkley but he hit his effort first time and it flashed the wrong side of the post for Worcester.
It was now the turn of Lowestoft to try and open up an early lead and with some lovely one touch football between Lee Smith and Eagle, a ball was sent to the far post with both Reed and Gaughran coming in on it but neither of them able to get enough on the ball to divert it into the net.
The blues were now starting to put some good football together with ten minutes gone and only a number of blocks from the visiting defence had stopped the Lowestoft midfield from manufacturing a lead.
The first thirty minutes came and went with Worcester still trying to get the ball into the Lowestoft box at every opportunity and on most occasions the deliver required solid defending to deal with it but solid is exactly what the Lowestoft defence were with Sowunmi in particular heading everything clear. While Lowestoft continued to look the more threatening in their midfield play with Eagle carrying the ball well and Adam Smith not only looking strong in defence but also providing quality when coming forward to link with the attack.
Both defences were looking pretty solid though; so a cheeky effort from Adam Smith was worth a go when he stood over a free-kick on the halfway line and with the keeper at the far post, he sent a well struck effort to the near post to catch the keeper out but it just went past the base of the near post.
As the break approached it was Lowestoft who were looking the most likely to break the deadlock and with some sublime skill, quick feet and a very slick one two between Reed and Eagle, it looked as if Eagle was going to give the blues the lead as the goal opened up for him but Vaughan was equal to it effort, making a tremendous save to deny Lowestoft.
Five minutes of the half remained and Lowestoft continued to exert pressure on the visitors but they couldn't find another killer move like that one they'd created moments earlier, as both teams left the pitch at the break with the match goalless.
The second half started positively for the blues with Reed showing great work and strength to get to the touch line and send a good ball across goal to the far post but there was no blue shirt in sight.
It was all still proving to be very tight as the sixty minute mark arrived and with Fisk going down injured and being replaced by Okay, the blues started to lose the momentum and tempo that they'd had in the first half.
The visitors could sense that an opportunity was there to take advantage and with Sowunmi getting booked for blocking a quickly taken free-kick, the re-take was fortunately for Lowestoft right down the throat of a well positioned Jones in the Lowestoft goal.
The quality had seemingly evaporated from Lowestoft's play and this was added to with another momentary lapse in defence as the visitors broke the deadlock and dealt a blow to the blues. Keeper, Vaughan stood over a free-kick in his own half and with him flighting it into the box, nobody tracked the run of Nti as he guided his header past Jones for 1-0 (68 mins). Literally moments later it was nearly two for Worcester and two for Nti, as he headed a Sousa cross just over the bar.
Fifteen minutes remained and Lowestoft had now seemingly lost their shape and were looking very nervous in their play. The visitors to their credit set to work on trying to take advantage of it as Lowestoft introduced Bammant for Henderson and switched to a 4-4-2.
The visitors now looked like the only side who were going to score and with Symons turning on one from twenty-five yards out, Jones was forced into making a great flying save to deny him. The resulting corner saw the nervousness continue for the home side, as Sowunmi tried to clear but could only send his header onto his own crossbar.
Worcester made their first change with just under ten minutes remaining as Brown replaced Dunkley. While Lowestoft made their third and final change moments later with Woods-Garness replacing Eagle. The Montserrat striker had certainly clocked up the miles and minutes in his time away on international duty and was the perfect card to play late on for Lowestoft. He almost immediately looked like he would grab the headlines when Reed nodded down to him and a chance from the edge of the area presented itself but his well struck effort wouldn't come down enough and cleared the bar.
Three minutes stoppage time had now been indicated and time was running out for the blues to avoid a disappointing defeat. The pressure on both sides was clear to see as a number of players got involved on the far touchline, resulting in referee Anthony Da Costa giving Okay for Lowestoft and Sousa and Deeney for Worcester a good talking to.
The final minute of stoppage time was now left and with the blues winning a free-kick out on the left, it was last-chance-saloon time with goalkeeper, Jones coming up the pitch and into the box.
The whistle sounded, Lee Smith delivered and yes you've guess it; Lowestoft goalkeeper Jones made his presence felt as the ball was guided across goal and into the path of the predatory Reed to slam it home for a dramatic equaliser and 1-1 (90+ mins).
It was a fantastic late equaliser for the blues but celebrations soon turned to ugly scenes with the visiting keeper, Vaughan grappling with Jarvis on the floor, getting the Lowestoft midfielder in a headlock and then unbelievably attempting to bite him! This unsurprisingly incensed a number of players as all twenty-two players then came together in a melee that the officials could only stand back and watch. Once order had been restored, the obviously un-fed Vaughan was shown a straight red card and the same was shown to Jarvis for his reaction, even though it was an understandable reaction to what had happened to him. Bammant was also booked, along with others from the visiting side as Veiga replaced Sousa and took up the goalkeeping gloves for the remaining seconds of the match for the visitors. Pretty much as soon as the game re-started, the final whistle went and a 1-1 draw was fair but had been overshadowed by the scenes at the end.
At half time it looked like Lowestoft would come out of the game with three points but after a disappointing second half and a lapse at the back, the blues were happy to have got a point.
What the goal and game did show yet again though, is that this Lowestoft team never give up and even when struggling, the fight and desire within the side is there right until the very last kick.
The midfield looked full of ideas and good passing in the first half with Eagle in particular carrying a threat with the ball at his feet. While in defence, the towering Sowunmi won everything that came his way. It was a disappointing second half but one player that shone throughout, not only defensively but also in their quality when coming forward or behind set pieces was my Man of the Match; Adam Smith.
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Lowestoft Town now head to Leamington on Bank Holiday Monday, knowing that a win would all but secure Conference football for them next season.