Lowestoft Town 1 Bognor Regis Town 2
Lowesoft were unlucky in a 2-1 defeat to Bognor Regis Town at the Crown Meadow.
Lowestoft Town: Jessup, Saker, Gaughran, Nelson, Ainsley, Smith, Okay, Jones (Cockrill 67 mins), Francis (Cunningham 75 mins), Henderson, Frew (Eagle 53 mins). Subs; Eagle, Cunningham, Cockrill, Fitzgerald, Wilson
Bognor Regis Town: Stoner, Marzetti, Wollers, Crane, Axten, John, Beck (Tuck 78 mins), Wills, Harper, Robinson (Dodd 82 mins), Whyte (Stockford 46 mins). Subs; Dodd, Tuck, Stockford, Walshe, Boyle
Lowestoft can count themselves unlucky after losing 2-1 to Bognor in a good game between two footballing sides, in which they rued their luck in front of goal, with a mix of average finishing and bad luck. Bognor were dealt a good hand with a lucky deflected goal from close in, while Lowestoft had a chance cleared from the line and a clear back pass right in front of goal not awarded to them.
Lowestoft went into the game with their squad stretched to its bare bones, through a long list of injuries to key players and a handful of suspensions. This gave the opportunity for some of the developing players at the club to feature in the squad, with Adam Fitzgerald and Matthew Wilson making the bench and central defender Jamie Nelson partnering Gaughran at the back.
Prior to kick-off a minutes silence was observed for ex Lowestoft player Dicky white, who played for the side in the early 90's but sadly died at the age of 41.
With the rain of late and a fine drizzle in the air, the game got underway on a slightly boggy pitch with Bognor bringing a decent amount of travelling support, who were singing and in a buoyant mood behind the goal.
Lowestoft nearly got off to the perfect start with just seconds on the clock, as Henderson burst forward down the right and squared to Frew, who took a touch but then dragged his shot along the deck and wide.
Lowestoft continued to apply all of the early pressure, seeing most of the ball but Bognor did show signs of being an accomplished side when in possession.
Lowestoft worked another early chance after some good football on the deck and Henderson working some space in front of goal, only to see his shot charged down by the Bognor defence.
Lowestoft remained on top and with Francis dropping his shoulder to go past his right back opponent, he sent a shot into the side netting, as Lowestoft started to look like the side who were going to deservedly take the lead.
The two Bognor centre backs, Axten and John were certainly big in stature but Lowestoft were not making it easy for them.
The early Lowestoft domination was being ably supported by Ainsley, who was reading the game brilliantly and making some good interceptions, on top of playing some effective passes.
Bognor's first sighter on goal came from Robinson, who got a shot away from outside the area but it was never causing Jessup any trouble, as he watched it wide.
Okay and Jones were controlling the midfield for Lowestoft, who were certainly leading in the possession stakes and Henderson was being a menace as always. Bognor were struggling to make any sort of an impression on the game but this was mainly due to some great closing down and hard work by everyone in the Lowestoft side.
The opening goal looked like coming for the blues but two chances in quick succession ended with the score still remaining at 0-0. An awesome ball by Ainsley split the area and fell at the feet of Gaughran close in but his shot was just deflected wide and from the following corner a Gaughran header was shovelled behind by the keeper, as Lowestoft started to apply some intense pressure on Bognor.
There was not a foul in sight and the ref had been almost anonymous in what had so far been a great game of football on the eye.
Smith and Henderson had struck up a great partnership on the right against Hendon last Saturday and yet again the pair were linking well down the right channel.
Lowestoft were showing great pressure, passion and commitment but were just missing the deserved goal.
The first goal of the match did then come but it wasn't for Lowestoft, as Bognor delivered a sucker punch against the run of play, with a good long ball testing Gaughran, who's weak header was touched towards Jessup but allowed Crane to steal in and loft the ball over Jessup for a surprise 1-0 lead to Bognor (39 mins).
Lowestoft up to this point had not put a foot wrong at the back and the young reserve player Jamie Nelson had settled well after the opening exchanges and didn't look out of place alongside Gaughran.
The half time whistle came and it was a tough half time score to get your head around, with Bognor being played off the pitch for large parts of the half.
The second half started with Bognor making a change, as Stockford replaced Whyte.
Bognor had clearly discussed matters at half time and came out showing good early pressure on the Lowestoft goal and with a big helping hand from lady luck, a fluke deflection in the Lowestoft box off Harper ended with the ball in the net and Lowestoft cruelly staring at a 2-0 deficit (49 mins).
Bognor to their credit had come out with all guns blazing but it was a harsh scoreline on Lowestoft and one which would need some digging in to overcome.
The Lowestoft midfield were struggling to take hold this half and Bognor were making it very difficult for them, resulting in Lowestoft making a couple of changes, with Eagle replacing Frew after 53 minutes and Cockrill replacing Jones after 67 minutes.
Bognor were lucky to find themselves 2-0 up but were now taking advantage of it by shutting the door on Lowestoft and defending well and in numbers.
Lowestoft replaced Francis with Cunningham to push for something out of the game and on the 75th minute Lowestoft were given hope, with a superb ball from Saker into Henderson, who was bundled to the floor in the area, giving the ref no choice but to point to the spot. Up stepped Mr Reliable from the spot (Cockrill) and on the sound of the whistle he confidently drilled the penalty home to reduce the deficit to 2-1.
Bognor made a couple of changes of their own, in the hope of restricting Lowestoft but Lowestoft were on the front foot now and with Smith sending a good ball into Henderson, his header went wide but it was a tricky effort to connect with properly, while running backwards with his back to goal.
Both Cockrill and Cunningham had done well since coming on and a Cunningham corner was headed down in the box, as Bognor scrambled the ball clear from close to the goaline, as Lowestoft turned the screw.
The time was ticking away but with the last chance of the game Lowestoft had every right to feel hard done by, as a great Eagle pass and a Henderson ball across goal ended with a back pass to the keeper but the ref unbelievable didn't award a free-kick for it and denied Lowestoft a great opportunity to equalise.
The final whistle sounded and even though the Bognor supporters celebrated, they must have known that they had been somewhat fortunate to get a victory, in a game in which Lowestoft played more than a part in the match.
Yes the finishing was again lacking at times from Lowestoft but again the team had created chances and considering how stretched the squad was going into the game, the team had performed well and it was a great game of football to watch.
The three suspended players from today will all return on Tuesday and I'm sure that as the injury list starts to subside this quality squad will put a good run of results together.
Young Jamie Nelson did well in a game which was a serious step up for him and Cockrill and Cunningham were both effective when coming on. Henderson was his usual menacing self and a defenders nightmare, while Ainsley again showed why Adam Smith will have a fight on his hands to get his place back when fit. As far as Man of the Match goes, it's a tricky one, as I felt the whole side dug in today and gave it a good go and were just missing that edge in front of goal and that bit of luck. Considering the enormity of what was asked of him though and the level he was asked to play at today, my Man of the Match is the centre back Jamie Nelson; well done lad.
Lowestoft are next in action on Tuesday night, away to Lewes in the league. Keep the positivity going people and I'm sure as players start to return we will rise up the league.