Hastings United 1 Lowestoft Town 4
Goals from Defty (2), Henderson and Dawkin, cap a fine performance and result, as Lowestoft put four past draw specialists Hastings United.
Hastings United: East, Manning, Richardson, Crellin (Vickers 60 mins), Ray, Judge, Ellis (Dickson 76 mins), Okojei, Suarez, Atwood, Freeman (Camara 60 mins). Subs; Carey, Cox, Vickers, Camara, Dickson
Lowestoft Town: Plummer, Williams, Crane, Gaughran, Ainsley, Lee Smith, Okay, Fisk, Henderson (Dawkin 86 mins), Frew (Eagle 78 mins), Defty. Subs; Dawkin, Francis, Eagle, Cunningham, Reynolds.
After a couple of nervy moments in defence during the first half, Lowestoft dominate proceedings in the second half with a much more solid defence, slick midfield and clinical finishing to beat Hastings United 4-1.
A double by Defty and goals from Henderson and Dawkins were enough to secure the points, against a side who don't lose too many games at home and to extended their unbeaten run to ten games.
Lowestoft made three changes to their side from Tuesday; with Mitchell missing through illness and being replaced by Fisk, Adam Smith carrying a knock and being replaced by Ainsley and Frew coming in for Eagle.
Hastings were missing from their squad their leading goal scorer Goldberg.
As always, the pitch at the Pilot Field was looking very good, as the game got underway.
Frew and Defty had been partnered up top today and from an early stage both players were winning everything that went to them.
It was a solid start by Lowestoft and with Frew retaining possession well, it drew Hastings into giving away free kicks, as a result of going through the back of Frew on more than one occasion.
In this fixture last season Lowestoft couldn't believe their luck when Hastings scored a stunning strike early on and with Hastings first foray forward today, it looked like the luck was going to be against Lowestoft again. With the ball coming to Ellis on the edge of the area, a Lowestoft tackle came in just as he shot and the ball looped up over Plummer and looked like dropping into the goal, only to come back off the bar, much to the relief of Lowestoft.
The chance settled Hastings though, who were now playing the ball out from the back and starting to cause some issues in the Lowestoft area, with the defence looking unusually ruffled.
Lowestoft did look good coming forward though and with Lee Smith bending a great ball in from the right to the far post, Henderson looked like opening the scoring with a close range header, only to see an excellent point blank save made by Hastings keeper East at the foot of the post.
Lowestoft were not to be denied though, as two minutes later Ainsley got himself in behind the right back and sent a great ball to the far post for Defty to head down and give Lowestoft a 1-0 lead (17 mins).
The frustration of falling behind appeared to get to Crellin, as moments later he was very late in a tackle on Henderson, rightfully picking up a booking for his troubles.
Apart from a five minute spell when Lowestoft looked a bit ruffled at the back, it had been a good start for Lowestoft. Lee Smith was seeing plenty of the ball and working well with Williams down the right, which is where Lowestoft were focusing their attentions. Frew was also looking sprightly and Lowestoft were looking comfortable.
However, just as Lowestoft looked to be restricting Hastings from putting anything together, a great pull back found Attwood in the Lowestoft area and with his shot being saved down low by Plummer, Suarez latched onto the scraps to slot the ball home and level things up at 1-1 (36 mins).
The equaliser really lifted Hastings, who now had more of a spring in their step and with Lowestoft panicking at the back a little, Hastings pushed to try and get in front before the break.
It was Lowestoft, however, who nearly took the lead with Fisk picking up the ball in midfield and finding Frew but with Frew closing in on goal and Fisk continuing his run into the area, Frew's shot towards goal unluckily struck Fisk on the line when it was looking like Lowestoft would restore their lead.
Henderson was having a frustrating day on the left so far and his frustrations brought a booking for him, as he wiped a player out with a tackle and went into the refs book.
With halftime just minutes away, Hastings nearly nudged in front, as Attwood worked some space on the edge of the area, forcing Plummer into a good save low down to his right.
There was just enough time on the clock though for Lowestoft to get a halftime lead and Hastings could have no qualms, as a Lee smith corner saw the Hastings defence stand still, allowing Defty to rise like a jumping salmon at the far post, to head home right on halftime for 2-1 (45 mins).
It had been a funny half of football with Lowestoft fairly comfortable up until the equaliser and then suffering a nervy spell, before finding their feet again and restoring their lead just before half time.
The second half got underway and Lowestoft made their intentions clear early on, with some good play on the edge of the box and with Fisk sliding the ball to Frew inside the area, he should have tested the keeper but instead curled his shot wide, as a great chance went begging.
Defty was marauding around and continuing to show great strength and determination, winning everything that went to him.
Lowestoft's lead was only a slender one though and with Hastings being draw specialists this season, they nearly drew level with a good reverse ball into the area by Okojei and Ellis hitting a fierce shot right at Plummer.
With thirty minutes remaining Hastings made a double change, as Camara and Vickers replaced Freeman and Crellin.
Okojei had been the player most likely to create something for Hastings today and was continuing to look lively on the right and showing some good movement when coming inside; keeping Ainsley busy. The Lowestoft defence however had brushed off its first half moments of insecurity though and was looking pretty solid this half and with twenty minutes remaining Lowestoft started to fully boss the game in midfield.
Clinical finishing was then order of the day, as Lowestoft extended their lead to 3-1 in the 73rd minute. Lowestoft spilt forward and with Lee Smith laying the ball off to Defty on his right and Defty then in turn sliding the ball across the area to Henderson, he opened his body up and put away a beautifully placed curling shot into the far inside post for 3-1 (73 mins). Henderson hadn't been as prevalent today but it was a classy finish and an important goal, that effectively put the result beyond any doubt.
Hastings made their third and final change with Dickson replacing Ellis and a couple of minutes later Lowestoft introduced Eagle in place of Frew, who had put in a decent shift.
Eagle moved to a familiar wide left position while Henderson moved up top alongside Defty, as Lowestoft went in search of the cherry on top of this tasty performance.
With just four minutes of time remaining the young and talented Dawkin was brought on in place of Henderson and immediately showed some good touches and link up play with Defty and Smith.
Hastings nearly stole one goal back with minutes ticking away but Plummer got down well to save and deny Hastings any hope.
That hope then totally evaporated for Hastings in stoppage time, with Manning sending a weak header back to his keeper, allowing the newly introduced Dawkin to nick in, coolly take the ball past the keeper and a tracking back player and to slot the ball into an empty goal for 4-1 (90 mins).
As the whistle sounded Lowestoft had not only secured three points but had beaten a team who don't lose many at home. Keeping the momentum and confidence going, as they start to force their way back to the sharp end of the table and the promotion hunt.
It was another solid team performance, especially in the second half and for me there were four players in particular who shone. Lee Smith produced a performance full of quality and drive, while Ainsley seamlessly stepped in for Adam Smith and delivered some fantastic crosses from the left throughout the match. Williams showed yet again what a top class player he is and how well he reads the game, at times making it look simple and putting in a focussed, intelligent and totally committed performance.
However, Williams was just beaten to the Man of the Match honours today by the human tank that is Jack Defty. The guy may not be the quickest forward around but his strength, aerial prowess and ability to sniff out a chance, is the reason why he's now scored 13 goals so far this season. He will have scored easier goals than the two headers he got from close range today but they were two vital headers at important times in the game.
This result and performance keeps the momentum and confidence going, as we head to Tuesday night's home game against Canvey Island, which will be another testing fixture. However, with the team riding high at the moment and a packed Crown Meadow, I'm sure we can continue to push on as a team.
See you all Tuesday!