Lowestoft Town 0 Thurrock 1
Lowestoft control the first thirty minutes but never recover after conceding a really poor goal in the 36th minute to lose 1-0 to Thurrock.
Lowestoft Town: Reynolds, Saker (Benjamin 34 mins), Gleeson, Mitchell, Ainsley, L Smith, Fisk, Okay, Dawkin (Eagle 80 mins), Frew, Araba (Defty 68 mins). Subs; Benjamin, Eagle, Defty, A Smith, Cunningham
Thurrock: Viner, R Jones, Onyenmah, Jeffries, Turpin, Smith, Green, Spence, Perkins (D Jones 68 mins), Stimson, Ebsworth. Subs; Griffiths, D Jones, Dixson, Honesty, Hughes
Lowestoft control the first thirty minutes but never recover after conceding a really poor goal in the 36th minute, going down 1-0 to relegation battling Thurrock. Lowestoft are still very much in the promotion hunt though but will now be relying on a major slip up by Whitehawk if they're to finish top of the pile and avoid the play-offs.
The last few games have seen Lowestoft pick up a number of knocks and injuries, so the starting eleven had a few changes to it. Henderson was missing with a dead leg, Williams is still shaking off a tight hamstring and Gaughran is a doubt for the remainder of the season with a hamstring injury. Adam Smith and Defty were carrying slight knocks and where therefore only named on the bench and Crane was serving the third and final match of his three game suspension.
In the crowd for the game was Norwegian supporter Anders Johansen who has been doing a tour of clubs and grounds up and down the country, choosing to come and watch Lowestoft play a rare Thursday fixture.
On a cold and blustery night the game got underway and it was clear from the off that Thurrock were here for the points, lining up with plenty of shirts up top and a very attacking formation.
Teams rarely come to the Crown Meadow with such an attacking set-up, so Lowestoft struggled in the opening period to settle and get used to the formation that was facing them.
Lowestoft did create the first opening though with a Frew header sending Dawkin into the area and with him cutting the ball back it took an excellent blocked tackle by the defender at the far post, to stop Araba sliding in for a certain goal for Lowestoft.
Lowestoft had now countered the Thurrock formation by pushing Lee Smith up the pitch and going to a 4-3-3 formation themselves, resulting in them now getting into the game.
A low darting ball into the edge of the area by Okay allowed Dawkin a chance at goal but he couldn't get enough on the shot to fully test the keeper, who saved with ease.
Lowestoft were now starting to control the game and Araba was looking like Lowestoft's most effective player, dropping off and making some good touches to bring the midfield into the game before turning and moving into the box. Frew was getting bashed about early on by the Thurrock defence but was trying to work the channels and with a nice touch in a central position, Araba found himself in on goal with just the keeper to beat but Viner flicked his right leg out to make a superb stop to deny Lowestoft the lead.
Lowestoft were looking comfortable but from a rare breakaway Saker had to get a great block in on Ebsworth at the far post to avert the danger.
Saker had taken a knock early in the game and with him going down Lowestoft were forced to make a change, bringing Benjamin on and moving Lee Smith to right back. However, while making the change Lowestoft only had themselves to blame for what followed. With Benjamin being prepared to come on a Thurrock header came back off the bar but with the change seeming to take an age to eventually be made the entire team switched off and with Green sending a ball across the Lowestoft goal, Stimson had the simplest of tasks to stroke it home and send Thurrock 1-0 up (36 mins).
For the remainder of the half Lowestoft looked totally punch drunk but with the halftime whistle sounding, Lowestoft had the chance to re-group.
Lowestoft started the second half by forcing a couple of early corners as they looked to strike back quickly. A great chance then came their way with Araba driving through the Thurrock defence, collecting the ball on his way but unfortunately for him and Lowestoft he got right under the ball and sent it high and out of the ground.
It was a good opening five minute spell by Lowestoft at the start of the second period but with the game progressing Lowestoft started to fall away and the game became very unsettled, as both teams started pumping long balls forward, totally bypassing the midfield. There really was very little going on in the game at this point but with Benjamin showing great strength to win back a ball that he nearly lost, he drove forward and bent a shot with the outside of his boot just wide of the Thurrock goal. Thurrock then came close to doubling their led following a poor clearance from the Lowestoft defence and with the ball rolling towards goal there was no Thurrock player in the vicinity to take advantage.
Thurrock's tough approach resulted in Lowestoft getting free-kicks but this approach worked for Thurrock in upsetting Lowestoft and resulting in them looking totally out of sorts. As a result the game became very disjointed and Lowestoft quite frankly didn't look like threatening the Thurrock goal at this point.
In the 68th minute both sides made changes with Lowestoft replacing Araba with their leading scorer Defty but the change did little to lift Lowestoft and even when Frew worked a chance on the edge of the area, his effort on goal was poor. Thurrock were starting to pick some holes out at the back with Lowestoft looking all over the shop at times but a moment of relief did come along when Lowestoft won a free-kick in Mitchell territory. Mitchell stepped up and with Thurrock keeper Viner only pushing it out and back into play, Dawkin headed towards goal but Viner got up to make amends with a great one handed save to shove the ball away from goal.
Lowestoft introduced Eagle in place of Dawkin with ten minutes remaining and their title hopes looking under threat but the only chance in the remaining ten minutes fell to Thurrock. A sloppy pass by Lowestoft allowed Green into the right side of the area to flash a ball across the Lowestoft goalmouth but luckily for Lowestoft there was no Thurrock player there to get on the end of it.
A few minutes of injury time was added on but the final whistle came and Thurrock celebrated a big three points in their battle against relegation, while Lowestoft were left to lick their wounds.
Lowestoft never really recovered after conceding and had a bad day at the office. The result has put a big dent in their title aspirations and will now require Whitehawk to majorly slip up if Lowestoft are to win the league. However, Lowestoft have put a fantastic run of results together in a 20 game unbeaten run prior to this match and are still in a very strong position to secure a play-off spot and have more than enough about them to get promotion.
Araba had a good first half and made some telling little lay-offs to bring the midfield into the game during the first thirty minutes. Mitchell followed on from the game against Bury by putting in a pretty solid showing at the back but my Man of the Match for Lowestoft was Andrew Fisk. Lowestoft didn't have the best of games and at times the midfield did get bypassed but Fisk never stopped trying and kept plugging away all game.
Confidence will still be high amongst the players and should still be high amongst supporters, as we put this match behind us and focus on Saturday's trip to Canvey Island and our continued push for promotion.