Lowestoft Town 3 AFC Telford United 0
Lowestoft Town kick off the season in style with a fantastic and dominant performance, as they beat AFC Telford United 3-0 to take the three points.
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Lowestoft Town: Jessup, Ainsley, Gleeson (Barker 32 mins), Mitchell, Smith, Fisk, Okay, Ryan Jarvis, Crow (Woods-Garness 86 mins), Henderson, Reed (Eagle 84 mins)
Subs not used; Fowkes, Garnham
AFC Telford United: Montgomery, Reid, Clancy, Rea, Deaman, Lees, Gorman (Brownhill 77 mins), Wilkinson, Glover (Anderson 77 mins), Hibbert, Roberts
Subs not used; Fletcher, Harrison, Springthorpe
Lowestoft Town came into the game short on numbers in defence and with AFC Telford United having travelled down on the Friday to keep their players fresh; there was a slightly nervy feeling in the air amongst blues supporters prior to kick-off.
Dereham Town defender, Harry Barker had been brought in on loan and was named on the bench alongside Youth Alliance player Fowkes, as the blues lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Ainsley was given the captains armband, while Jessup was given the nod in goal ahead of Garnham.
Missing from the squad for the first game of the season were the suspended Bammant, Rossi Jarvis and Deeks, and the injured Marsden (ankle) and Mason (jaw).
The match got underway with Lowestoft Town in their customary blue strip and AFC Telford United in yellow tops and red shorts.
The first fifteen minutes of the match saw Lowestoft settle the quicker out of the two sides, as they made an energetic start and started to press the visitors. However, it was the visitors who had the best chance in the opening period with Reid sending in a well measured ball from the right that cleared Gleeson and allowed Hibbert to pull the ball down well and get a shot away from ten yards; only to be denied when Jessup got down well to save.
Lowestoft were looking good though and were moving the ball around well with Crow already shining in the hole behind the lone striker, by winning the ball and showing great vision in his touches and distribution.
A ball into the Telford box saw them unable to clear and from the scramble a Henderson effort was charged down. This was shortly followed by a Smith corner that went right across the face of goal and needed Clancy to clear off the line, as Lowestoft looked ever more likely to open the scoring.
A reminder was dealt to them shortly afterwards though, as a ball from the right by Wilkinson found Glover ghosting in at the far post but he got underneath the header and sent it off target.
At the other end, Lowestoft had a great chance themselves when Crow played the ball to Henderson from the left channel and he then shifted a lovely ball into the path of Ryan Jarvis but with him charging into the area and getting the shot away, Montgomery was out of his goal quickly to make a great stop.
Telford were certainly looking second best and even when they did try to get forward, most of their forward movements came via Gorman on the right and with him always looking to come inside on his preferred left foot, it was proving all too easy for the blues to read and defend against.
As the half-hour mark passed, Lowestoft were looking in control and all that was missing from their performance was the goal it deserved. However, yet again they were given a stark reminder that possession means nothing if you don't find the net, as a big clearance saw Glover get in off the shoulder of Ainsley, only for him to be denied by another good stop from Jessup. In the aftermath of the visitors effort it was clear to see that player/coach, Gleeson was struggling for the blues and with his back issues having seemingly flared up again, he was replaced by loanee, Barker. The change saw a shuffle at the back for Lowestoft, as Barker took up position at right-back and Ainsley moved centrally alongside Mitchell.
I hefty tackle on Wilkinson saw Fisk go into the referees book as ten minutes of the half remained and both sides were now looking to try and manufacture a lead to take into the break.
A scare in the Lowestoft defence saw Ainsley clear the ball from the foot of the post. While at the other end, Okay brought the ball down on the edge of the box but wasn't able to get enough on it to cause any real trouble for the keeper.
After cutting in from the right, a Glover effort that was heading for the crossbar was pushed over by Jessup in the last action of an entertaining half that had seen Lowestoft look the better of the two sides but with the best chances having fell the way of the visitors.
Lowestoft took little time in asserting themselves after the break and were denied an early lead when Reed looked like he was going to latch onto a dropping ball in the area but was denied by a great tackle by Reid to thwart him.
The visiting defence were certainly being made to work as a result of the hustle and bustle being shown by Reed and the support he was getting from Henderson, Crow and Ryan Jarvis as the three behind him. The possession was now heavily weighted in the blues favour as they forced a number of corners, looking for the breakthrough. However, a crazy few seconds at the other end of the pitch proved the vital turning point in the match. Having made a save from Gorman, Jessup and the Lowestoft defence somehow kept the visitors out as four shots in quick succession saw a mixture of saves, blocks and scrambles off the line to see Lowestoft somehow survive going behind.
It was the prompt that Lowestoft seemed to need in order to make their performance up to this point count. Henderson picked the ball up in midfield and moved forward with intent, before sending a swerving effort wide of goal. This intent was now running through the Lowestoft side, as the game opened up and Lowestoft's patience paid off with them scoring three times in eight minutes to kill off their opponents. The first of the goals saw Ryan Jarvis spray a ball from deep to find Reed up top and with the hardworking striker twisting and turning to find the space, he eventually got the better of the visiting defence to get his shot away and inside the post for 1-0 (69 mins).
Before the second goal, another great save by Jessup had denied Roberts when his swerving effort was heading for the top bin. However, immediately following the visitors effort the blues were on the break and with Reed being found on the left up field, he squared for Crow to thump the ball home and double the lead to 2-0 (70 mins).
A double change was made by the visitors as Gorman and Glover were replaced by Brownhill and Anderson but seconds later the third was added by the impressive and now rampant blues. This time the favour was returned by Crow, as he fed in Reed and the striker found the bottom corner for 3-0 (77 mins).
The game was now won and as the final minutes approached, two of the stars of the performance, Reed and Crow were given a good round of applause by the supporters as they were replaced by Eagle and Woods-Garness.
Four minutes stoppage time were indicated by the referee but in what had started out as an unsure feeling before the match; Lowestoft Town had shown that pre-season was exactly that and had put in a fantastic performance when it counted to claim a 3-0 win, all three points and a clean sheet to boot.
AFC Telford United had their chances and were denied by some great saves by Jessup. However, Lowestoft looked good for large parts of the game and showed an incredible amount of spirit, fight and togetherness to put in a performance that merited the outcome.
From front to back, everyone in a blue shirt had done what was asked of them and had given their all for each other and the team as a whole.
It's therefore one of those games that proves a nightmare to single out any one person for the Man of the Match but in my opinion there were three who's performances really stood out.
The experience and intelligence in the touches and distribution shown by Crow, in his position in the hole behind Reed were telling of what a great player Lowestoft have in their ranks and missed last season due to injury. While having been brought in ahead of Garnham, a lot had been asked of Jessup but he showed a great maturity in goal and made a number of excellent saves to deny the opposition and ensure that the blues also walked away from the game with a clean sheet. However, with two well taken goals and an assist, my Man of the Match award has to go to the hardworking and invaluable Jake Reed.
Man of the Match - Jake Reed
It's a great start to the season and one that should be enjoyed by supporters and players alike. However, it’s just one game and the players focus will soon turn to their away trip at Alfreton Town on Tuesday night, in which they will be looking to make this result count and follow it up.
Places are still available on the away coach for Tuesday (departure time 1:15pm) and can be booked by contacting me on 07879496895.