Lowestoft Town 2 Margate 1
Lowestoft Town picked up another important three points to maintain their title challenge with a victory over Margate that was far more convincing than the odd goal of three suggests.
There was just one change to the starting line up from the team that had reached the Suffolk Premier Cup final in midweek with Adam Smith returning to the left back position.
Lowestoft set the tempo from the start and could have been two goals up in the first five minutes. Firstly a Robert Eagle shot was deflected into the path of Chris Henderson who was denied by a fine diving save from Simon Overland. Eagle then picked out Dean Sinclair whose goal bound attempt was cleared off the line by Dean Hill.
Lowestoft were then stunned as Margate broke away to score from their first attack. There seemed little danger as Tom Murphy collected the ball just outside the area and although his shot lacked pace it seemed to take a bobble and squirmed through Andy Reynolds hands into the bottom corner of the net.
Undeterred Lowestoft continued to press forward and an excellent forward ball from Greg Crane picked out Henderson who chipped the keeper only to see the ball bounce out off the crossbar. Adam Smith’s free kick found Sam Gaughran whose header was saved at full length by Overland.
A rare Margate attack saw Reynolds turn a close range header from Wade Small over the bar but it was soon Lowestoft on the attack again with Henderson’s shot grazing the outside of the post after being set up by Sinclair.
Lowestoft finally conjured up the goal they had been threatening in the final minute of the first half. Smith’s free kick was headed back across goal by Matt Nolan and turned into the net by Gaughran.
The second half followed a similar pattern to the first with Lowestoft pressing continually and Eagle was played through but his shot went straight into the keeper’s hands. The Lowestoft management made a telling substitution in the 68th minute by replacing defender Smith with Joe Francis as they pushed even more men forward.
Francis was immediately in the action and with his first touch forced Overland into an excellent save. An audacious lob from wide on the left flank by Eagle landed on the roof of the net. Andrew Fisk then picked out Francis who saw his effort deflected wide of the post by John Beales.
The pressure had to pay and the winning goal finally arrived in the 78th minute. Eagle’s cross was collected wide of the far post by Scott Mitchell who played the ball back to Francis who coolly controlled the ball, moved inside his marker and rifled the ball home from 10 yards.
Finally forced into abandoning their massed defence Margate had a late chance to snatch a point but Reynolds point blank save thwarted Richard Avery.
An excellent team performance and an important three points was the view of Lowestoft joint manager Micky Chapman at the end of the game.