Lowestoft Town 1 Leiston 1
Lowestoft steal a point with an 88th minute equaliser at the Crown Meadow.
Lowestoft Town: Plummer, Saker, Gaughran, Williams, Cockrill, Smith, Mitchell, Okay, Francis (Dawkin 61 mins), Henderson (Cunningham 78 mins), Defty. Subs; Fisk, Eagle, Cunningham, Dawkin, Newson
Leiston: Phillips, Head, Dunbar, Driver, Jefford, Boardley, Ottley-Gooch, Heath, Osei (Hammond 78 mins), Thrower, Brothers (Stone 57 mins). Subs; Stone, Hammond, Norfolk, Block, Potter
Lowestoft stole a 1-1 draw against local rivals Leiston with an 88th minute leveller from Jack Defty, in a game in which Leiston were unfortunate to not leave with all the points.
In a first half were Leiston were much the sharper, Lowestoft went on to control the large majority of second half possession but did little with it against a Leiston side who defended really well.
Both sides went into the game in form and with the pitch playable but heavy under foot, the first ten minutes saw no chances, with both sides feeling each other out and weighing up each other's set-up.
The first chance of any note came when Lowestoft won a free-kick just outside the area and in Mitchell territory but his effort was deflected onto the bar by the Leiston wall.
The deliveries into the box by Lowestoft were looking way short of their usual quality and with Okay closing down the Leiston defence excellently to win the ball and force a corner, poor delivery yet again let them down, as they struggled to find their play.
Williams lashed a shot wide from the follow up play for Lowestoft and at the other end Leiston zipped a cross in, which Osei very nearly got on the end of, as Leiston started to look the sharper of the two sides.
Midfield, as always, is a key area to win your battles in a football match and with Okay covering ground and working hard, Mitchell was unfortunately found wanting and distinctly off colour, as Leiston started to get the upper hand in the centre of the park.
On top of this the Leiston forward and number 9 Osei was looking very lively and quick footed and it was his play that started a move forward by Leiston, ending with a cross from the right by Ottley-Gooch to the prowling Heath, who tucked the ball away from close in to give Leiston a 1-0 lead (28 mins). Plummer had got down well and reacted but there was too much on the ball, as it found the target.
Lowestoft were really looking second best, especially in midfield and when getting in possession their deliveries were found wanting in quality and precision. Even the lively Henderson and the solid Defty were being out muscled by the Leiston defence, as Lowestoft struggled to find any sort of penetration in their play.
Just past the half hour Lowestoft had a sniff of a half chance to level things up but with Mitchell flicking the ball into Smith his lifted effort nestled itself on top of the net.
With half time approaching Lowestoft were looking right out of sorts and were even losing their shape in places, with Leiston unlucky not to go in two up at the break. A free header from a corner saw Ottley-Gooch go close and then with Osei proving a handful again and winning a tussle in the corner with Williams, his ball across goal found Heath, who very nearly doubled his and Leiston's tally, if not for a scrambled save by Plummer close in.
Lowestoft started the second half much brighter and had clearly been given some stern words at the break, as they lifted their possession. Henderson was dropping off and winning the ball and Smith and Mitchell more getting more involved in the build up. However, Leiston were still looking sharp and Osei was still looking lively and dangerous.
Even though Lowestoft were now dominating possession and getting forward more, they weren't able to use it effectively as a team, with occasions were nobody was following the play into the box or making the runs.
With 57 minutes on the clock, Leiston made their first change, as Nathan Stone rose from the away bench and took the place of Brothers.
Leiston then started to settle into the half a bit more and four minutes later Lowestoft made their first change, with the loan signing Dawkin replacing Francis.
The defensive pairing of Jefford and Boardley were looking very solid though and Lowestoft were looking like they really had their work cut out to force any sort of assault on the Leiston goalmouth.
Cockrill was featuring at left back again for Lowestoft today and after being caught out once in the first half, he was at fault for Leiston nearly getting a second goal; being caught out at the back and with the ball being squared into the area, Lowestoft were lucky, as there was no Leiston player in the vicinity to tuck the ball home.
It was a frustrating sight for the Lowestoft supporters, as possession was with the blues but nothing was coming from it. A further change was made, as Cunningham replaced Henderson and Leiston countered it by replacing the impressive Osei with Hammond.
Cunningham has a great delivery on him, which was missing from Lowestoft's artillery today and the change nearly paid dividend right away, as Cunningham sent in two great deliveries in quick succession. He was left showing his frustration though, with nobody getting on the end of the balls, even following a scramble in front of the Leiston keeper Phillips for the second of these deliveries.
Lowestoft were trying and Cunningham had lifted the side briefly but the Leiston defence didn't look like being breached. Well, not until the 88th minute, when Dawkin sent a great cross in from the left and with Defty at hand close in, he headed down and into the net for an unexpected goal and to draw the sides level at 1-1 (88 mins).
The game itself had no further goal scoring chances before the final whistle but was spoilt just before the end with Gaughran and Stone having an altercation and handbags ensuing in front of the dugout between both sets of players, resulting in the referee booking a number of players.
On the final whistle Lowestoft could certainly count themselves fortunate in getting a point and Leiston had shown enough to give the view that they should hold their own in this division from now until the end of the season.
The frustrations of postponements over the festive period certainly appeared to have effected Lowestoft more, with Leiston looking much sharper in the first half. Lowestoft improved possession second half but couldn't do anything of note with it and also came up against a solid Leiston defence. Scott Mitchell looked distinctly off colour and Lowestoft never found enough quality in their play as a whole.
When thinking of Man of the Match performances, only three names come to mind. Henderson worked hard but never really got the better of the Leiston defence and Williams put in a solid showing at the back, underlining what a great capture he is for Lowestoft. However, the Man of the Match award by the Platinum Sponsors went to Blake Saker and I can't really disagree with that to be fair. He looked solid, focused and provided support well down the right. During his spell in the side he has played really well and has most certainly now given the management a selection headache when Gleeson returns.
Lowestoft's next game is on Saturday, when they travel to Thurrock.