Stalybridge Celtic 3 Lowestoft Town 1
Early goals undo Lowestoft Town again as they slump to a 3-1 defeat at Stalybridge Celtic.
Stalybridge Celtic: McMillan, Crowley, Shaw, Hughes, Higgins, Chalmers, McKenna (Osei 86 mins), Dixon, Farrell, Tames (Johnson 80 mins), Chippendale (Burgess 77 mins)
Subs not used; Wright, Hill
Lowestoft Town: Garnham, Ainsley, Nunn, Burns, Marsden (Woods-Garness 86 mins), Okay (Henderson 80 mins), Rossi Jarvis, Ryan Jarvis, Crow, Bammant (Eagle 62 mins), Reed
Subs not used; Gleeson, Jessup
For Lowestoft; Fisk and Mitchell were still on the sidelines injured. While Smith was unavailable and both Mason and Barker were dropped from the squad as manager Ady Gallagher made a number of changes after last weekends debacle.
The match was preceded by a minutes applause for the sad passing of former Stalybridge Celtic striker Doug Jones.
The match got underway with Stalybridge in blue tops and white shorts. While Lowestoft lined up in the reverse colours with white tops and blue shorts.
Lowestoft were looking to make amends for last week but with just three minutes on the clock they conceded a soft early goal yet again, as a long throw from Farrell inexcusably found its way to Tames for a simple finish and a 1-0 lead (3 mins).
Lowestoft were looking shaky and unassured and much like last weekend, one goal quickly became two to make their task an uphill one with just over ten minutes gone. A good ball by McKenna allowed Crowley to get in behind and with him firing across goal, Tames collected the ball and finished well to guide the ball under the keeper for his second goal and 2-0 (11 mins).
The alarm bells were already ringing and with McKenna looking like he was going to give left-back Marsden a busy day; Lowestoft were giving themselves a lot to do again.
As the fifteen minute mark passed, Lowestoft slowly started to find their feet as a sweeping ball by Crow picked out Ryan Jarvis on the right but his dangerous ball into the box was cut out well by Hughes. Moments later it was Ryan Jarvis who was involved again as an effort from the angle was deflected behind by the home defence.
Lowestoft had now settled into the game but the threat was still there from the hosts as a stretching Nunn was forced into cutting out a good, low cross by Chippendale.
Stalybridge were getting tight on Lowestoft and making it hard for them to get any sustained momentum but the tide had turned as a Crow corner saw Rossi Jarvis with a free header ten yards out but it was right at the keeper, who claimed from underneath the bar. Another Crow corner followed and this time it was Reed on the end but again the chance went begging as his downward header went the wrong side of the post.
Reed was certainly looking more like his hard-working self and with Okay getting more and more involved in the middle, a few alarm bells were now starting to ring in the home defence. Clever play by Okay saw him dummy the ball and let it run into the path of Ryan Jarvis, who came in from the right and fired another drilled effort across goal and just past the far post.
The long throw of Farrell was still looking a threat whenever Stalybridge had the opportunity to use it but Lowestoft were enjoying their best spell of the game and putting some good football together when going forward. The home defence were frustrating them at times though and keeper, McMillan was showing good judgement when coming out for the ball. Reed was finding it hard to get onto anything and with him leaving his foot in after a blocked tackle, the first of four Lowestoft bookings on the day followed.
Crow was supporting the play from behind Reed and at times was being joined in a forward position by Rossi Jarvis. While Okay continued to influence the play from the middle as he picked out Reed who twisted and turned on the edge of the box to get a shot away but it was blocked brilliantly by the hosts defence.
It had been a shaky start for Lowestoft but on the halftime whistle there were signs that if the blues could get a goal back early in the second half, they could get something out of the game.
The second half started with a marauding Marsden wriggling his way into the Stalybridge area but with him off balance, his stabbed effort at goal was a weak one.
Okay was getting involved again and Marsden was trying to get down the line as the game started to open up but some wrong decisions for their final ball was doing little to expose the home defence.
As the sixty minute mark arrived the hosts came close at the other end and were showing signs of wrestling the play back from Lowestoft. A effort from the edge of the box by Farrell should have worked Garnham but was dragged wide as Lowestoft found themselves being pushed deeper by the hosts.
The first change for Lowestoft came when Eagle replaced Bammant and just a few minutes later, a late but no malice tackle saw Okay go into the book.
Stalybridge continued to push Lowestoft back and after having made a better start to this half, the blues conceded again and effectively ended any chance they had. A great cross from the right by Farrell was met by a completely unmarked Shaw, who's header found the top corner for 3-0 (66 mins).
Ryan Jarvis was now in a more central position and with just three minutes passing since the hosts third, a great pass by Okay found Ryan Jarvis and with him touching it to Reed on his left, the striker picked his spot and guided it past the keeper and into the corner for a slick finish to make it 3-1 (69 mins).
The goal lifted Lowestoft, who were looking good again when going forward but were still looking raw at the back with a new look defence that will need a few games to settle and build up a better understanding.
Okay was certainly playing his part in trying to aid the unlocking of the home defence again and with him collecting and controlling a ball really well in the box, he turned and got a shot away that looked to be heading inside the post until a defenders head got enough on it to turn it behind.
Following a late tackle on McKenna, Marsden added his list to those that had been booked, as the host made their first change of the match with Burgess replacing Chippendale.
A drilled effort by Crow was blocked as Lowestoft stepped it up a gear for the final ten minutes and the hosts battened down the hatches. Another threat was introduced by Lowestoft with the arrival of the attacking and direct Henderson in place of the much improved Okay. While the hosts made their second change as Johnson replaced two goal hero Tames.
Henderson became the fourth and final Lowestoft player to go into the book with five minutes remaining as a fizzing free-kick was bent just over the Lowestoft bar by Farrell.
Woods-Garness replaced Marsden for the visitors and Osei replaced McKenna for the hosts as the final few minutes of normal time arrived. Lowestoft were continuing to push but were finding it hard to unlock the Stalybridge defence.
A late half-chance saw Henderson released and his ball across the box only cleared as far as Reed on the edge of the box. However, his effort was slammed wide and with four minutes of stoppage time coming and going, the whistle sounded and it was another defeat for the Trawlerboys.
Changes had been made and there was a marked improvement in an attacking sense by Lowestoft. However, chances had been wasted again and even more frustratingly they had yet again given away early goals to make their task an even tougher one.
Ryan Jarvis looked good once again and despite finding it tough in a lone striker role, Reed kept plucking away and took his goal well.
However, with a performance that was much improved from last weekend and saw him create opportunities, while being at the heart of most of Lowestoft's possession; my Man of the Match was Erkan Okay.
Man of the Match - Erkan Okay
It's a quick turnaround for the blues as they get sent out on their travels again this Tuesday, when they make the trip to take on fellow strugglers Brackley Town.