Lowestoft Town 4 Cray Wanderers 1
Lowestoft Town kept their foot firmly on the promotion peddle, putting in a dominate performance of football to comfortable beat Cray Wanderers 4-1.
Lowestoft Town: Plummer, Saker, Crane, Williams, Eagle, Gleeson, Henderson (Frew 57 mins), Okay, L Smith, Dawkin (Benjamin 81 mins), Defty (Araba 57 mins). Subs; Benjamin, Fisk, Frew, Araba, Ainsley
Cray Wanderers: Walker, Pooley, Clark, Saunders, Willy, Day, Power, Savinrou, Bremner (Ward 65 mins), Phillips (Estrada 46 mins), Fray. Subs; Estrada, Ward, Fasunan, Sackey, Abbott
Lowestoft Town kept their foot firmly down on the promotion peddle, putting in a dominate performance of football to comfortable beat Cray Wanderers 4-1. The result moved Lowestoft up to second in the table as a result of Wealdstone losing 3-2 at home to Bury Town, to cap a great night for the Trawlerboys.
It was never going to be an easy match coming into the game with Cray having won three of their last four away games, recently beating Bury Town 2-0.
Lowestoft were missing Mitchell from the squad after picking up an injury on Saturday at Canvey Island, as Lowestoft took to the field in a 4-1-4-1 formation that up to now had only been deployed away from home. Eagle replaced the injured Adam Smith at left back, Gleeson sat in front of the central defence and Lee Smith adopted a position in the centre of the pitch with man of the moment Okay.
The game kicked off with a fine drizzle falling but Lowestoft were straight out of the traps and nearly opened the scoring in the opening minutes. A lovely Lowestoft move ended with Defty finding Dawkin just inside the area but his shot was right at the Cray keeper Walker.
Cray had their backs to the wall already and with a super cross from the right by Eagle, Crane rose at the far post to head across goal but with the ball seeming like it was going in, it was cleared from the Cray goalmouth. Cray then exposed the Lowestoft defence themselves, going straight up the other end and with Fray spinning on a ball in the area, his effort was deflected behind by the Lowestoft defence for a corner.
It had been a really frantic and high tempo start to the game and with Cray not sitting deep and having players up top, it was allowing Lowestoft to play some lovely football on the deck.
Lowestoft were looking really threatening every time they came forward and were moving the ball around confidently in and around the Cray area. Dawkin was looking light-footed and sharp, moving in off the left and becoming the main guy for Lowestoft with ten minutes gone.
Defty has scored a number of headers from great crosses this season and with Saker sending in a teasing cross from the right, Defty headed down but Walker was in the right place to gather the ball. Lowestoft were really getting on top now and it was looking like being a long night for the Cray defence and keeper. Some great approach football by Lowestoft ended with Defty sliding the ball to Henderson in the box and with a drop of his shoulder, Henderson bent his effort fractionally wide.
The match was still goalless though but Lowestoft then got a fully deserved lead with another great passage of football and Gleeson threading a lovely ball into Defty, who turned and fired past the keeper for 1-0 (22 mins).
Lowestoft had now turned the heat up to the max and with a further five minutes passing they spilled forward again to double their lead. Gleeson once again the provider, laying the ball off to his right and with Okay setting himself from the right side of the area, the keeper could only watch as he sent a delightfully curled shot into the far side of the net for 2-0 (27 mins). I don't think he knows how to score ordinary goals.......fantastic finish!!
Only a further four minutes past before Cray were run over by the blue juggernaut again, following a lovely run by Dawkin, he set up Henderson to round the keeper and send Lowestoft 3-0 up (31 mins).
Lowestoft were literally oozing class all over the pitch and to name just a few; Henderson was like a whippet, Defty was again winning everything and producing some lovely touches, Lee Smith was looking productive in midfield and Dawkin and Eagle were linking up well down the left.
It wasn't even a case that Cray were making it easy, it was just simply the fact that Lowestoft were playing really well and producing some great football.
Just as Cray thought they were going to reach the break and get a breather from all the pressure though, Lowestoft struck again to hit their fourth goal on the stroke of halftime. An Eagle corner was bent in towards the goal and with it near enough going in on its own accord, Williams was there to make sure and to send Lowestoft in at the break 4-0 ahead (45 mins).
Cray started the second half with an immediate substitution as Estrada replaced Phillips (46 mins).
Lowestoft however, continued from where they had left off, in playing some lovely flowing football that left Cray only able to chase shadows.
Okay already has three spectacular goals to his name this season and seems to be on a mission to have his name up there for goal of the season. This was underlined again with him moving forward and sending an exquisitely lobbed shot from all of 40 yards, forcing the keeper Walker to backpedal and claw the ball back from going over the line.
The Lowestoft assault continued and with Defty getting his head to a ball into the box, Walker made a fine save to tip the header onto the bar. Cray were looking in big trouble and Lowestoft were showing no signs of backing off but with them in a such good position a couple of sensible changes were made in order to preserve legs and fitness in the squad, with the games continuing to come thick and fast. Araba replaced the magnificent Defty and Frew was sent on in place of Henderson with just over thirty minutes of the game remaining.
Araba looked hungry for a goal from the off and it wasn't long before he had a bite, bending a low shot which Walker fumbled but there wasn't enough in the shot to cause any major problems.
Frew then got in on the action, sending a brilliant cross in from the right that flashed across the box but there was nobody at hand to take advantage as Lowestoft continued to hold all the cards.
Cray made another change with Ward replacing Bremner and even though Lowestoft were still in control the game then started to become a little more scrappy, which was to be expected with tiring legs and changes being made.
There was still just over twenty minutes to go but the game was starting to feel like it had already been won and Lowestoft just needed to keep control without exerting themselves too much.
Cray then received a boost though with Crane pulling down Power in the box and with the referee pointing to the spot and no real complaints at the decision by Lowestoft, Power stepped up to drill home and make it 4-1 (68 mins).
Lowestoft kept playing good football but had now understandably dropped into cruise control but that didn't stop Walker having to pull off another great save, this time from a Lowestoft header following a Lee Smith corner.
Cray were naturally now seeing more of the ball but their play wasn't really carrying any threat and with fifteen minutes of the game remaining it looked like Lowestoft were well on their way to another great three points. Frew nearly made it five for Lowestoft, rising well to get on the end of an excellent Saker cross and unluckily seeing his header go just the wrong side of the post.
Benjamin replaced Dawkin with just under ten minutes remaining and Araba was presented with a glorious chance to get on the score sheet but after being put clean in on goal he lashed at the shot and sent it over the bar.
A fifth wouldn't have flattered Lowestoft, who had been superb and with Lee Smith side footing into the path of Benjamin, he volleyed a great turning shot that just missed the far corner of the goal.
Three minutes of injury time were added on at the end but Lowestoft had put in a great performance of football and with the whistle going they deservedly added another three points to their promotion push.
The Cray keeper Walker made two or three great saves tonight to deny Lowestoft further goals but Lowestoft were just too strong and I could easily rave about every Lowestoft player in this superb team performance.
To name a few, Gleeson was composed and accurate in his passing, setting up two goals and Okay shone again. Dawkin was very sharp and skilful on the left and linked well with Eagle, while Lee Smith played really well in an uncommon central midfield role for him. Defty yet again won everything that went up to him, while also continuing his trademark quality touches to set up efforts on goal or to bring others into the game.
I could easily name anyone tonight as the Man of the Match but I'm going to plum for Robert Eagle, who was asked to do a job at left back. He linked up well with Dawkin on the left and he didn't just deliver some good balls but he also made a few good tackles, which is exactly what you want from a wing back. My Man of the Match, Robert Eagle.
The fixtures keep coming but the lads have a welcome break this Thursday with them next up at home to a rejuvenated Carshalton on Saturday. See you there!!