Kingstonian 0 Lowestoft Town 1
Another superb strike from Erkan Okay seals all three points for Lowestoft, in a 1-0 win at Kingstonian.
Kingstonian: Tolfrey, Goode, Bird, Somner, Gayle, Huckle, Wanadio (Vines 46 mins), Taylor, Koranteng (Small 46 mins), McCollin, Pattison. Subs; Vines, Murphy, Barton, Small, Bragg
Lowestoft Town: Plummer, Saker, Gaughran, Mitchell, A Smith, Gleeson, L Smith, Okay, Fisk, Henderson (Benjamin 87 mins), Defty (Frew 90 mins). Subs; Williams, Dawkin, Frew, Benjamin, Ainsley
Lowestoft battle hard, coming up against an in form keeper in the first half and a spirited ten men Kingstonian in the second half to get a huge three points in a 1-0 win. Erkan Okay scored the vital goal with a sensational strike from outside the area, that gave the keeper no chance.
Lowestoft went into the game with Crane and Eagle unavailable due to personal commitments and had to make a late change to the starting line-up with Williams feeling his hamstring in the warm-up.
In the past this hasn't been a happy hunting ground for Lowestoft, with them also having been on the wrong end of some important decisions by the officials.
Kingstonian however, were coming into the game after winning on Saturday but having endured a rough spell of form prior to that. They have always raised themselves for this fixture though and it was going to be no different for this match.
The pitch was in good condition and the game got underway with Lowestoft lining up in their 4-1-4-1 formation which has been adopted with success away from home of late. The only difference being Henderson coming into the formation and starting on the left.
Kingstonian had an early shot from distance, with the game really open and being played at a high tempo by both sides from the start.
Kingstonian were the first side to come close though, with a cross from the right finding the head of Taylor but Plummer saved brilliantly, diving full stretched to his right.
Kingstonian were looking sharp and were shifting the ball around well, stretching and testing the Lowestoft defence early on, with plenty of balls being sent into the area.
Lowestoft were also looking threatening though, when coming forward and after some good build up play, Saker saw his cross along the deck to the far post cleared from the foot of the post.
Defty was already being given a rough ride by the Kingstonian defence and on occasions he wasn't getting much help from the linesman but Lowestoft were getting joy in other areas of the pitch.
Mitchell very nearly gave Lowestoft the lead, after spinning on the edge of the area and sending a great shot heading towards the top corner, only to see the keeper Tolfrey make a brilliant leaping save to stop a certain goal. From the resulting corner Lee Smith sent the corner in and with the keeper attempting to dive and the ball missing everyone, the ball went into the net, as Lowestoft celebrated. The celebrations were cut short though with the referee unbelievably ruling the goal out, in what can only be described as an atrocious decision against Lowestoft with nobody being impeded or any reason for the goal not to be given. For the third season on the trot another big decision had gone against Lowestoft but it only served in firing them up even more, as they started to apply pressure and really threaten the goal.
A great passage of play by Lowestoft ended with Lee Smith crossing from the right and onto the head of Defty close in but the keeper made a superb point blank save to deny him and Lowestoft.
With Lowestoft starting to take control, Saker found himself on the left side of defence and behind Kingstonians leading scorer McCollin but in a moment of madness McCollin flung his elbow back into the face of Saker, sending his head flying back and dropping him to the deck. The linesman immediately flagged and after a brief discussion with the referee, McCollin was rightfully shown a straight red (25 mins).
Lowestoft continued to press and were denied yet again by Tolfrey, with the defender not getting enough on his deft header back to Tolfrey and Henderson alert and onto it, only for Tolfrey to make another great point blank save to keep his side from going behind.
Lowestoft were testing Kingstonian now and with a beautiful ball from Gleeson splitting Kingstonian open, Okay found himself with an opening from an angle but couldn't get enough on it to threaten the goal or keeper.
Lowestoft deserved to be leading but again they were denied by Tolfrey with Lee Smith stinging his hands with a shot, quickly followed by Okay seeing his shot blocked as it was heading towards goal. It was turning into one of those games were Lowestoft were doing everything right but were being stopped by some fine goalkeeping.
The frustration continued for the Trawlerboys with Gleeson then hitting a shot from fully 25 yards, with it hitting the post, going across goal and back into play.
It just wouldn't go in for Lowestoft and with the keeper having one of those games, it was going to take something special to beat him. That special strike came though, with Okay being found just outside the left side of the area and spanking an unstoppable volley over the keeper and into the far side of the goal for 1-0 (37 mins). The keeper had made some great saves up to that point but there was nothing he could do about the awesome strike, which was a replica of the goal Okay got at Met Police in the last match.
Things nearly got worse for Kingstonian, with them lucky not to be reduced to nine men, after a really late tackle on Fisk in front of the dugouts, with just a yellow card being brandished. The tackling at times by Kingstonian was late but that wasn't something which could be aimed at Somner, who had defended well against Defty, as the half was brought to a close.
Kingstonian started the second half making two changes and sending both players high up the pitch, showing their intent in trying to get back at Lowestoft.
It nearly paid dividend right away with Small getting in on goal but Mitchell got a foot in well to deny him from getting a shot away.
Mitchell was putting in a pretty commanding performance at the back so far and had also put in some good blocks. While Fisk and Okay were also prominent, making runs from midfield to support Defty, much as they did at met police.
However, Lowestoft hadn't quite got their game going this half and their passing wasn't anywhere near as tidy as it had been in the first half. Lowestoft were also sitting off a bit too much and were looking narrow; allowing Kingstonian time and space to apply some pressure.
Fisk was putting in a tenacious display and was closing them down at every opportunity, in order to try and wrestle control back for his team but with Kingstonian working hard and Lowestoft sitting deep, Lowestoft were restricted to playing the long ball up to Defty, who was still being ably marked by Somner.
The Kingstonian defence had dealt with Defty well and the team as a whole were working very hard and making it really difficult for Lowestoft but with fifteen minutes left, Lowestoft still led.
A chance for a second for Lowestoft was produced with them getting in behind and Okay being found in the box but with the ball not coming down quick enough, he was only able to send a soft side footed shot at the keeper.
Kingstonian understandably kept pressing themselves though and with Bird sending a free kick in from the touchline, a scramble ensued in the Lowestoft area with gasps being let out as the ball narrowly went wide of the post.
Benjamin was introduced in place of Henderson with three minutes remaining and he immediately showed a good turn of pace to keep Kingstonian on their toes. However, Kingstonian kept pressing and with a ball being sent forward, a mixture of players went for the ball, with it ending up heading towards goal but just wide again, as Lowestoft hung on.
Four minutes of injury time were signalled and Kingstonian sent ball after ball into the Lowestoft area, however Plummer was showing some great handling to claim his fair share of them.
Kingstonian had given it a real go this half and had made it hard for Lowestoft but the Trawlerboys had dug in and with the final whistle going they moved up to third place in the league with a huge three points.
It was another win to keep the unbeaten run going and after conceding a few goals in their last three games, it was a welcome clean sheet to add to several others that have been kept during this time.
Lowestoft were the better team in the first half but were not at their best in the second half and had to dig in and show the determination and desire to keep winning.
There were five players who stood out tonight, with Fisk making some good runs forward but also closing down the opposition. Mitchell putting in a commanding performance at the back and making some timely interceptions and blocks, and Gleeson reading the game well and picking simple and effective passes out in his role in front of the defence.
Plummer did well in goal and showed great handling when claiming several dangerous balls in the box.
My Man of the Match though was Erkan Okay. The lad is flying at the moment and is now putting his name up there for consideration as Player of the Season with some fine midfield displays and another sublime goal tonight, adding to the other great strike he got last week against Met Police.
This was another big three points for Lowestoft and attention now turns to two local derby's; firstly at Leiston on Saturday and then taking on bitter rivals Bury Town at the Crown Meadow on Easter Monday.