Lowestoft Town 1 Margate 0
Lowestoft put in an excellent and solid performance, beating a tough Margate side 1-0, witha fifth minute goal from Jack Defty.
Lowestoft Town: Plummer, Williams, Gaughran, Crane, Adam Smith, Henderson, Mitchell (Fisk 77 mins), Okay, Eagle (Francis 28 mins), Lee Smith, Defty. Subs; Dawkin, Fisk, Francis, Frew, Cunningham
Margate: Holloway, Starkey, Campbell, Stubbs, Beales, Long (Dolby 79 mins), Bodkin, Corneille, Rook, Whitnell (Murphy 71 mins), Rhodes. Subs; Brown, Murphy, Mattless, Dolby, Vines
Lowestoft put in an excellent and solid performance, beating a tough Margate side 1-0, to extend their unbeaten run to eight games with their fifth win and fifth clean sheet during that spell.
A Defty goal after just 5 minutes was enough to secure the points, as Lowestoft goalkeeper Plummer had another quite night, with the Lowestoft defence yet again looking impenetrable.
Lowestoft started the match with just one change from Saturday, as Williams moved to right back in place of Saker and the returning Crane lined up alongside captain Gaughran.
The match took little time to get going, with play immediately going from end to end and Henderson getting in behind the Margate defence on two occasions in the first few minutes but in both instances his pull back was cut out.
It was a really open start to the game with a high tempo and Henderson was already looking in no mood to mess about, as he probed the defence with various runs across the front line, making it difficult for the Margate defence to keep tabs on him.
It was therefore no surprise when Lowestoft took the lead in the fifth minute with Henderson at the heart of the action; picking the ball up well in midfield to start the move and finally picking up the returning pass at the end of a flowing Lowestoft move, to square for Defty to slot home for an early 1-0 lead (5 mins).
In the first half against East Thurrock on Saturday Henderson seemed to stick to the right but in the second half he was given licence to roam and cause problems, and was certainly following on from that in this game.
There was a fantastic tempo to the Lowestoft play, mixed in with some great movement, as Margate appeared to be getting put to the sword. Okay, Lee Smith, Adam Smith, Eagle, Defty, in fact the whole side were really on their game and applying some telling pressure on Margate.
All Margate could look for was a quickly sprung counter attack, which on occasions they did try to their credit, moving forward with pace when picking the ball up in their own half.
With the half hour mark approaching, Williams burst forward from his right back berth for the evening, playing a great ball to release Henderson in round the back again but his ball across the box didn't find a teammate, as Lowestoft went in search of a second goal.
It had been a really absorbing game of football up to this point but unfortunately ended up being a short lived night for Eagle, who was struggling with illness and had to be replaced by Francis in the 28th minute.
Lowestoft continued to work hard on the ball and when not in possession they worked equally as hard to harass and close Margate down, with Okay again covering large areas of the pitch to break up play and start off moves..
The Lowestoft defence was again looking impenetrable though and even with Margate trying to launch a few long throws into the Lowestoft area, the defence were equal to it.
The closest Margate came to a goal was went they sent a free kick in from the left but with Plummer and a Lowestoft defender on the line and no Margate player in sight, the ball was cleared.
With ten minutes to go until half time the pace understandably dropped off a little, with the game getting a bit sloppy and a few mistimed tackles resulting in a handful of bookings being dotted around for both teams.
Both teams had a chance just before the half time whistle, with Henderson getting in on the Margate goal but the defender putting in a great last ditch tackle to deny him. Then at the other end Margate very nearly caught Lowestoft out; breaking away but with a mixture of an inaccurate final ball and the offside flag, the threat came to nothing. Lowestoft had reached the break with their noses in front and were worthy of the lead at this point.
The second half started with much more purpose in the Margate play, as they imposed themselves on the Lowestoft defence and tried to retain possession for longer periods.
At 1-0 Margate were clearly still in this game but for all of their early possession at the start of the second half, they failed to trouble Lowestoft keeper Plummer and regularly came up against a Lowestoft defence that slammed the door in their faces every time. The ever consistent Gaughran was leading the back line, the returning Crane was putting in a strong performance of no nonsense defending and Williams had transferred his classy play to right back for tonight's game. Adam Smith was also impressing again with his distribution and awareness, since coming back from his lengthy injury
Margate had huffed and puffed for the opening period of this half but Lowestoft had ridden it out and were now starting to take hold of the game again, as a great ball into the box from Adam Smith had to be headed behind by the Margate defence, with danger lurking at the far post.
Lowestoft had now picked the play up and with both Mitchell and Henderson having shots closed down, Lowestoft looked like they were hunting for a second goal.
Margate could do little to turn the tide but were making it hard for Lowestoft in what was proving to be a tough and testing match, on what was becoming a hard surface in the icy cold conditions.
Margate introduced some fresh legs in the 71st minute, as Murphy replaced Whitnell. The change very nearly brought reward with Rhodes playing a ball inside to the newly introduce Murphy but his shot fizzed over and never looked like troubling Plummer. Moments later Francis bared down on the right back with pace and after getting past him he copied Murphy's finish for Margate, as his shot also fizzed over.
With just under 15 minutes left, Lowestoft made their first change with Mitchell being replaced by Fisk in the centre of the park. A change which proved effective, as Fisk immediately got involved in moving the ball around and shoring up the midfield.
Margate made another change themselves with Dolby coming on for Long and as the final ten minutes of the game approached the Lowestoft stands started to wind up with a quick burst of "come on you blues", as a mixture of excitement and nerves could be tasted in the air amongst supporters.
In truth there was no reason to be nervous, as Lowestoft continued their relentless hard work on the night and saw the game out to a close, securing a great 1-0 victory, another clean sheet and a big three points against a tough side.
It had been a really good and hard working performance by Lowestoft, with strong performances all over the pitch, making a man of the match decision very difficult. Adam Smith continued to impress since returning from his long term injury and Erkan Okay yet again covered large areas of the pitch with a tenacious performance in midfield. It was also another quite night for Plummer, thanks to another resolute defensive performance, with Crane putting in a good old fashioned no nonsense defence display, in his first game for a number of weeks. Williams did well at right back and looked just as solid in that position as he's been in the centre and Defty put in a commanding performance from start to finish.
In fairness the Man of the Match could have been given to any of the players tonight but for me there was one player who surely must be close to securing a deal to appear in the next Duracell bunny advert, as the guy just never runs out of steam! My Man of the Match for tonight's game has to be Chris Henderson, who covered more miles than Michael Palin and with his pace and movement he continually ensured that the Margate defence were kept busy all night.
A really solid performance and a great three points. Onwards and upwards to Saturday, when we travel away to Hastings. Great stuff lads!!
P.S. You may have noticed a new and rather bright electronic substitution board being used tonight. This has been kindly purchased and donated to the Football Club by Lowestoft supporter Nigel Overy. From everyone at Lowestoft Football Club, thank you very much Nigel.