Alfreton Town 0 Lowestoft Town 1
Lowestoft Town follow up their opening day win with another three points and another Reed goal in a 1-0 win at Alfreton Town, who end with ten.
Alfreton Town: Draper, Berry, Heaton, Allan, Wilson (Smith 66 mins), Jones (Palling 72 mins), Thanoj, Bradley, Ironside, Jackson (Lesley 57 mins), Jordan
Subs not used; Moyo, Galinski
Lowestoft Town: Jessup, Barker, Ainsley, Mitchell (Rossi Jarvis 49 mins), Smith, Fisk, Okay, Ryan Jarvis, Crow, Henderson (Bammant 80 mins), Reed (Eagle 85 mins)
Subs not used; Woods-Garness, Garnham
Bammant and Rossi Jarvis returned from suspension for Lowestoft and took up position on the bench. While Deeks was still suspended and both Marsden and Mason were still on the sidelines injured. The only change from Saturday saw young loanee, Barker come in for Gleeson, as Ainsley moved into central defence alongside Mitchell.
Manager, Gallagher also returned for his first game of the season following his honeymoon.
The game got underway on an absolutely fantastic playing surface with Alfreton Town in all red and Lowestoft Town in all blue.
Both sides had a sniff at goal in the opening couple of minutes with Okay hooking a ball towards goal for Lowestoft with the keeper out of his area and then at the other end, a downward header was sent wide by Jackson for the hosts.
It was a high tempo start to the match and it was Lowestoft carrying the threat in the opening fifteen minutes, finding the gaps in the final third and closing the opposition down quickly. Reed saw an effort drift the wrong side of the post after cutting in from the left and driving towards goal and then a Smith free-kick was brought down well on the edge of the box by Crow to send a shot on the spin just over the bar.
Another chance for the travelling blues saw an opening for Okay but he shied away from taking the shot on and the chance went begging.
On eighteen minutes a clear shirt pull on Reed was let go by the referee and Fisk stupidly allowed his frustration with the decision to boil over, as he forcefully kicked the ball at Jordan on the deck and got the booking his actions deserved.
Alfreton were now starting to find their feet as a long throw by Heaton found the head of Allan and from six yards out his header cracked against the bar.
The hosts continued to show improvement and with their pace from deep allowing them to drive forward quickly, they were starting to ask questions of the Lowestoft defence as the half-hour mark arrived.
After being found out on the right, Ironside came inside and manufactured a chance in the area but it was right at the feet of Jessup, who claimed with ease
A huge kick by Jessup found Reed in behind but from a tight angle his quickly hit shot flew across goal and wide.
At the other end, Jackson was guilty of not doing better for Alfreton when being found ten yards out but he got his snap shot all wrong and made it easy for Jessup to gather.
The first half drew to a close with both sides keeping it tight and the game remaining goalless at the break.
The second half started with Lowestoft forced into a change, as the injured Mitchell was replaced in central defence by Rossi Jarvis.
Alfreton came close to breaking the deadlock when a corner by Thanoj was met by Berry but Jessup was equal to it, making a great save to turn it over.
Moments later a dropping ball saw Jones smash an effort goal-wards but it flashed past the post with Jessup only able to watch it.
After a solid start to the half by the home side, Lowestoft started to find their feet again as Ryan Jarvis got a shot away from a central position but Jordan was at hand to charge it down for the hosts.
Reed then looked like he'd got in off the shoulder of the defender but Berry wrapped his foot round the ball at the last minute to clear the danger.
The first change for Alfreton came when Lesley replaced Jackson but with the sixty minute mark approaching, Lowestoft took the lead with a calm finish from Reed. Much like Saturday, Crow was the provider as Reed was level with play and showed great composure to draw the keeper, go round him and fire into the roof of the net and past the defender on the line for 1-0 (59 mins).
Crow is proving an intelligent threat already for Lowestoft and has a great touch. This was being added to with him also now taking the corners for the blues and delivering them with quality and accuracy to cause the Alfreton defence issues.
A second change for the home side saw Smith replace Wilson but it was Lowestoft who were making the impressions and who were clearly buoyed by taking the lead.
A Smith free-kick was headed clear but Crow latched onto it in the hole and sent a rasping effort along the ground that would have burst the goal if not for going fractionally wide.
Lowestoft were now rushing the home side and forcing them into losing possession. While Reed was tormenting the defence with his usual full throttle commitment and enthusiasm to make inroads.
Great footwork by Reed saw the striker get past Allan and look to head in on goal but Allan brought him down and was thankful that other defenders were adjudged to be in a position to be able to get to Reed, as the yellow card was shown. The resulting free-kick saw Smith standing over the ball but his dead-ball strike wouldn't come down quick enough as it curved past the far upright.
The hosts third and final change came with just under twenty minutes remaining, as Palling replaced Jones.
Just two minutes followed after the change before Saturday's sending off antics struck again for Alfreton and yet again it was Bradley who saw red for the second game in succession. A wild and dangerous tackle on Okay left the referee with little doubt but to reach for his pocket and reduce Alfreton to ten men by showing a straight red to Bradley. Lowestoft were already putting in a solid second half showing but even with this added advantage they couldn't rest on the laurels, knowing that Alfreton fought back with just nine men to steal a draw on Saturday at Bradford Park Avenue.
The final ten minutes were now approaching as Reed sent a nice touch inside from the left to find Henderson, who's cleanly hit strike along the deck forced the keeper into action.
It was now a case of Lowestoft needing to see the final ten minutes and stoppages pass without any drama, as Bammant replaced Henderson.
A Reed booking followed as the home side started to get numbers forward and show the fight that got them something on Saturday.
A foul on the edge of the box by Bammant gave Alfreton hope, as Thanoj stood over the free-kick. His effort from the dead-ball situation was struck with force and after taking a huge deflection off the Lowestoft wall, hearts were briefly in mouths as it wrong footed Jessup but thankfully for the blues, it flew wide. From the corner Jessup showed why he's not going to give up the number one spot with ease, as he claimed the ball with great authority to bring a threatening moment from the hosts to an end.
Five minutes now remained and with Reed being over exuberant in a tackle and a bit hot-headed, he was teetering with the possibility of a second booking and was promptly removed by the management and replaced by Eagle.
Lowestoft's fourth booking of the night came when the referee took the name of Okay, as Lowestoft battled to keep the hosts at bay, who were now understandably throwing everything forward.
The game entered stoppage time and felt like an age for players, management and supporters alike, as six minutes stoppage time were played out. However, Lowestoft and the newly introduced Eagle in particular were seeing out the time and frustrating their opponents. Right up until the final whistle sounded to make it a perfect start to the season with two wins and two clean sheets for the blues. This was also an away win at the first time of asking, having had to wait until February last season before doing the same.
The was another solid team performance for the blues in another tough match, against a side that looked technically stronger than AFC Telford United.
Supporters and no doubt management would have been impressed to see an old head on young shoulders, as Barker put in a performance that was assured and composed.
While Okay and Ainsley followed suit with strong performances in their given positions.
It was, however another great night for Reed, who is fast becoming a defenders nightmare. He just never backs off, never gives opponents a moments rest and never stops trying to find that extra yard to gain the advantage. His goal may have looked simple to some but it took great composure to draw the keeper and then finish with a defender on the goal line. He did nearly lose his head at the end but it was another superb performance to follow up his efforts from Saturday and yet again take my Man of the Match award.
Man of the Match - Jake Reed
It's been a great start for the blues, who will be hoping to continue it on Saturday when they travel to Worcester City.
Come on you blues!!