Cray Wanderers FC 1 Lowestoft Town FC 1
Lowestoft score late on but concede a sloppy equaliser a minute later, to draw 1-1.
Cray Wanderers: Walker, Burgess, Clark, Day, J Vines, Sterling, P Vines, Stavrinou, Bremner, Phillips, Saunders (Fray 76 mins). Subs; Wiley Power, Pearoux, Fray, Hall
Lowestoft Town: Plummer, Saker, Gaughran, Williams, Eagle, Henderson, Mitchell, Okay, Cunningham (Cockrill 43 mins), Frew (Newson 75 mins), Defty. Subs; Fisk, Jones, Newson, Cockrill, Jessup
In a tight encounter, Lowestoft score in the 79th minute through a Cockrill penalty but go to sleep and concede a sloppy equaliser a minute later, to draw 1-1 away to Cray Wanderers.
New loan signing Sam Newson was named in the squad and started on the bench. Francis was serving a suspension after his sending off at Lewes and was replaced by Cunningham. While Okay replaced Fisk in midfield.
The game kicked off in bitterly cold conditions but with the pitch in pretty good shape.
The first half could pretty much be summarised as both teams having a spell of pressure but the game then becoming contained and flat until half time.
The first ten minutes saw Lowestoft come out straight on the front foot and putting plenty of balls into the Cray box, creating a couple of chances, with Cray finding themselves stuck in their own half.
A Henderson shot flew over the bar and after a mistake from the right back Burgess, Mitchell dinked a ball to the far post and onto the head of Defty but his header drifted over the bar.
Lowestoft continued to pull the Cray defence apart with some good football, with Mitchell running it in midfield and Defty full of hustle and bustle up top, holding the ball up well.
Lowestoft however, were unable to make their early pressure count and Cray started to settle and push the play back into the Lowestoft half, to create a spell of pressure themselves.
Much like Lowestoft had for the first ten minutes, it was now Cray who had a ten minute spell of their own, creating a couple of chances of which they should have taken the lead from.
A ball into the Lowestoft area fell right at the feet of Paul Vines but from just two yards out he somehow managed to send the ball over. Then shortly afterwards Bremner got the better of Gaughran to get a shot away inside the area but was denied by Plummer getting down well, to make a good save and turn the ball behind.
With both teams having a spell of pressure but neither taking advantage the game started to become contained and went a little flat, which remained the case up until the half time break. Only intermitted by a forced Lowestoft change just before the break, with Cunningham going off injured and being replaced by Cockrill, who slotted in at left back, with Eagle moving into the left midfield position.
The second half started as the first half had finished, with neither side getting enough time on the ball to get it down and play, as it all started to turn a bit scrappy.
Lowestoft were the side who started to create a few chances though, with
Henderson working an opening in the area with the help of Frew but his shot from a tough angle went across the keeper, rolled across the open goal and went wide.
Lowestoft's best chance of the game then came along, with a ball in the area falling to Henderson, who's shot was saved well by the keeper Walker, who then got straight up to produce a double save, denying Eagle from the rebound.
Cray were not seeing much of the the ball this half and Gaughran was tidying most things up at the back, winning the headers and tackles.
Lowestoft came close to taking the lead, with Defty stealing the ball off the defender to put Henderson clear, rounding the keeper but from a tough angle his shot hit the corner of the woodwork and went out of play.
Cray hadn't really had a sniff on goal this half and with Defty winning the ball and holding it up well, Lowestoft were the team that looked more likely to break the deadlock.
As the game started to move towards the final quarter, Lowestoft started to open the game up, by stretching the play and finding space across the pitch.
Newson was then given his debut, replacing Frew and with Cray also making a change, the game went into the final fifteen minutes.
The game looked like being a game which was always going to be settled by a single goal and with 79 minutes on the clock and Lowestoft playing the ball around well, Mitchell picked a great pass, releasing Henderson into the area, only for the keeper to bring him down, giving Lowestoft a clear penalty and the keeper a booking. Lowestoft's penalty supremo Cockrill stepped up and drilled the ball under the keeper to send Lowestoft 1-0 up and on course for the three points.
Lowestoft were just about worthy of the lead, keeping Cray at bay and opening their defence up a couple of times but with little more than a further minute on the board, Lowestoft went to sleep and from a scramble in the area they conceded a sloppy equaliser, with Joe Vines stabbing the ball home for 1-1 (80 mins).
It was a disappointing goal to concede but things very nearly got worse, with a ball across the Lowestoft area and a last ditch tackle denying Cray from snatching the lead.
Both sides tried to go in search of a winner as the minutes ticked away but neither side could get the opening and on the sound of the final whistle, Lowestoft secured an away point but knew that they had thrown away a good chance of taking all three.
It had been a touch game and with both sides not giving each other time on the ball, it wasn't always a game for the footballing purist but overall the final score was a pretty fair result.
Gaughran and Williams kept Cray at bay for most of the second half and Eagle gave Lowestoft options down the left. While Henderson had chances but it wasn't his night in front of goal. The player who deserved the man of the match plaudits for Lowestoft thought, was Jack Defty, who had a solid game, holding the ball up well and forcing mistakes in the Cray defence on occasions.
It could have been three points and there will be a feeling of two points dropped but there will equally be a feeling that it was a good away point, from a tough match.
Focus now turns to Saturday and the intriguing match at home to front runners Wealdstone.
Lets get the Crown Meadow rocking!!!