Thurrock 1 Lowestoft Town 2
A spectacular winner in the 90th minute by Josh Dawkin secures all three points in a 2-1 win for the Trawlerboys.
Thurrock: Viner, R Jones, Onyemah, Jeffries, Turpin, Thurgood, Green, Spence, Smith (Hazelwood 54 mins), Curley, Honesty (D Jones 79 mins). Subs; O'Brien, D Jones, Hazelwood, Stimson, Hughes.
Lowestoft Town: Reynolds, Okay, Williams, Gleeson, A Smith, Fisk, Benjamin (Dawkin 66 mins), Ainsley (Henderson 10 mins), Eagle, Frew, Araba. Subs; Plummer, Henderson, Dawkin, Cunningham, Francis.
Lowestoft nearly throw it away conceding an 88th minute equaliser against nine men Thurrock but a spectacular winner in the 90th minute by Dawkin secures all three points in a 2-1 win for the Trawlerboys. The last minute winner was also added to with the tonic of finding out that Wealdstone had lost 3-1 at Hampton & Richmond.
Lowestoft went into the game carrying a few knocks and injuries; with Defty obviously missing after surgery on his broken leg, Crane out after taking a hefty knock to his foot on Tuesday, Mitchell still carrying a knock and both Saker and Lee Smith missing through illness. Henderson was also carrying a slight knock from Tuesday and started on the bench.
On a windy and fairly cold night Lowestoft took to the field in a 4-1-4-1 formation with Fisk in front of the defence, Benjamin left, Frew right and Araba up top. Okay was being asked to play at right back with Saker ill and Gleeson required in central defence.
Lowestoft made a pretty solid start to the match with Eagle and Adam Smith working space early on in midfield and down the left. While Thurrock were making plenty of running but to little effect.
Ten minutes in, the game then went through a lengthy period of stoppages with the main stoppage coming after a nasty clash of heads between Ainsley and Spence. Both players were left bloody and needed lengthy treatment on the pitch but with Spence changing his shirt and returning to the field of play, the news wasn't as good for Ainsley, who had sustained a nasty gash and had to be replaced by Henderson (10 mins).
As a result Lowestoft have had to switch to a 4-4-2 with Fisk coming into the centre of midfield, Henderson going right and Frew joining Araba up top.
The game had been held up for a good five minutes following the clash of heads but literally a minute after the restart Williams put a good tackle in on Turpin but with both players on the ground Turpin stupidly lashed out for Thurrock, swiftly receiving his marching orders off the referee (16 mins).
The game really struggled to get any shape and with twenty five minutes on the clock the only real taking points were stoppages, fouls or the whistle happy referee.
With Okay going through Jeffries and collecting a booking, Lowestoft struggled to really settle and Thurrock started to come forward with a bit of pace, forcing the Lowestoft defence into action.
Lowestoft eventually sprung into life though and following a lovely flowing move with several passes being strung together, Araba dummied the ball in the area and with it going to Henderson, he slide it to Eagle close in but Thurrock keeper Viner saved really well with his legs from the shot.
Lowestoft were now getting plenty of shirts forward and Eagle was pulling all the strings in central midfield with some well selected passes and great movement, also getting in and around the Thurrock area. Eagle was thriving in midfield and with him sending a sweet ball over the top, Henderson was unlucky to not unpick the Thurrock defences lock, with the ball going behind for a corner off the defender. The resulting corner was whipped in and with Araba towering high he connected well with a header, which fractionally cleared the bar.
Lowestoft were looking really confident now and were regularly getting into the final third with Thurrock looking a little rattled. Eagle obtained possession yet again but this time instead of picking a pass he let rip from 30 yards out, forcing the keeper to make a great full stretch save to turn it round the post.
Lowestoft had their tails up now, keeping Thurrock pushed back and their defence looking nervy every time a ball was sent in. The opening looked like it was just around the corner and with a ball lifted over the top, Frew sent a delicate chip over the keeper which missed going in at the far post by a fraction.
The referee then made the first of a catalogue of poor decisions, with Benjamin moving through midfield and with him releasing the pass a Thurrock player fell over him and the referee unbelievably booked Benjamin for it!
As the forty five minute mark approached, most were expecting a good ten minutes of injury time but only four were indicated. It was enough time for Thurrock to muster a chance though with Honesty being found on the left and cutting in to hit one but it went right at Reynolds who took the sting out if it and held the ball.
The number 10 for Thurrock (Curley) had been mouthing off all game and also harshly getting into some of the Lowestoft players. After a couple of warnings the referee had finally had enough though and rightfully put him in the book.
It hadn't been much of a half with all the stoppages and the referee not letting the game flow but Lowestoft looked the better side and hopes were high for the goals to come in the second half.
The second half started with both teams stretching the game a bit more but it was Lowestoft who looked the more threatening. It was that man Eagle again who was pulling the strings and with him hitting a shot cleanly in the box the ball was adjudged to have struck a hand and the referee pointed to the spot. It was even worse news for Thurrock with Curley already on a booking and with him getting shown a second card, Thurrock went down to nine men. The ball was placed on the spot and there was a bit of surprise around the ground when Araba stepped up but on the sound of the whistle he slotted the ball home and lapped up the applause from behind the goal by the Lowestoft faithful; 1-0 (52 mins). It was a lead that Lowestoft had deserved and minutes later Thurrock made their first change, introducing Hazelwood in place of Smith (54 mins).
Lowestoft were kicking into the wind this half which wasn't making things easy and certainly wasn't helping the goal kicks for Reynolds. Lowestoft ideally wanted a second goal to make things more comfortable, as they had been working hard but were not dominating against the nine men of Thurrock who were still in the game, working hard themselves.
Lowestoft were lacking a bit of width when coming forward and were finding it hard to get it out from the back against the wind. That was until Adam Smith fired a great ball across field from the left, picking out the run of Araba into the box perfectly but his well hit shot was equally matched by a fine save from Viner.
Lowestoft were not using enough width and when they did Benjamin was struggling to come up with anything on the left and with twenty five minutes left he was replaced by Dawkin to see if he could get any joy.
There was still only one goal in it, which was giving Thurrock hope but Lowestoft continued to press with Eagle at the heart of it again, picking some great passes and getting support from Henderson who was alert and pressing well. Fisk was also working hard in the middle and with him getting a sighter outside the area, he hit a shot firmly but the ball deflected off Jeffries and went the wrong side of the post for Lowestoft.
Lowestoft really needed a second to be certain but Thurrock were not making it easy and with a ball from the back putting Henderson in behind, R Jones defended superbly to block the danger.
Thurrock were holding out well considering they only had nine men and they replenished their troops for the final ten minutes with D Jones replacing Honesty.
At this stage news was filtering through to supporters that Wealdstone were 3-1 down at Hampton & Richmond, which was great news and an opportunity for Lowestoft to take advantage of. Things were looking rosy for Lowestoft but then in the 88th minute blue hearts were sunk, as a Thurrock ball was launched forward and with both Okay and Williams getting drawn into one player, D Jones snuck in behind and tucked the ball past Reynolds and inside the post to level things up at 1-1 (88 mins).
Lowestoft couldn't believe it and neither could their supporters but with the clock ticking into the 90th minute, despair turned to elation. In the right corner of the pitch the ball reached the feet of Araba who crossed the ball in and with Dawkin composing himself, he sent a sublime finish right into the postage stamp to send the bench, the supporters and blue hearts bursting with delight 2-1 (90 mins). It was a finish that was worthy of winning any match but Lowestoft were certainly breathing a sigh of relief, as the whistle sounded and an invaluable three points were added to the Lowestoft tally.
It's a hard match to summarise, as at times Lowestoft played some lovely football but then on other occasions they were guilty of being narrow and making it hard for themselves. Thurrock to their credit fought well though with nine men and very nearly stole a point at the death, if not for Dawkin saving the day with a wonder strike.
Overall, Williams had a more solid performance at the back, after a couple of indifferent games by his usual high standards. Fisk and Frew worked hard in their roles and Adam Smith had another good game at left back, continuing his solid run of form. However, my Man of the Match was a simple choice tonight and goes to a player who I love seeing play in central midfield, a role that appears to get the best out of him. His array of passing and attacking football tonight was a joy to watch and he really gives Lowestoft some penetration from a central position. My Man of the Match is Robert Eagle.
With Wealdstone losing 3-1 tonight's result was even more useful and the team will now head into Saturday's game at Bognor brimming with confidence again.
It's going to be a long day on Saturday but let's get behind the lads again and...........win it for Defty!!