Concord Rangers 1 Lowestoft Town 1
Lowestoft put in a much improved, passionate and determined second half to get a solid point in a 1-1 draw at Concord Rangers.
Concord Rangers: Chambers, Osifuwa, Glozier, Cowley, Fry, Easterford, Gordon, White, Hallett (Robinson 82 mins), Spendlove (Harris 72 mins), Stokes. Subs; Robinson, J Elmes, Knott, Harris, Clare
Lowestoft Town: Plummer, Mitchell, Crane, Gaughran, Adam Smith, Lee Smith, Okay, Fisk, Eagle (Francis 82 mins), Henderson, Defty. Subs; Dawkin, Francis, Cunningham, Ainsley, Saker
Lowestoft go to sleep on the stroke of the half time whistle to trail 1-0 at the break but put in a much improved, passionate and determined second half to get a solid point in a 1-1 draw at Concord Rangers.
Concord went into the game missing goal scorer Harry Elmes after his nasty leg break against Thurrock last time out, with the game being abandoned as a result. Concord still had a decent and dangerous side though, including Stokes, who's been knocking the goals in.
For Lowestoft; Eagle came in for Frew and Plummer replaced Reynolds in goal.
The match kicked off on a cold night with a pitch that was slightly soft underfoot. Lee Smith was out on the right and Henderson was moved back up top alongside Defty.
It was a solid and busy start by both sides, with Concord in particular showing a high tempo to their play, as the game showed early promise.
The right back for Concord, Osifuwa, was looking distinctly uncomfortable early on and rather lightweight when under pressure.
Concord did have a couple of speculative long range efforts, with Cowley hitting one from 30 yards but Plummer getting down to it easily and shortly afterwards, Hallett hitting one from distance but Plummer doing well to claim the ball, with it bouncing just in front of him.
With fifteen minutes on the clock it was all fairly even with neither side getting a foothold in the game.
Lowestoft's first chance of the game looked like breaking the deadlock with Eagle feeding in Henderson, who put on the afterburners to power into the area and shoot across the goal and keeper, just wide of the far post.
At the other end, Hallett showed great strength to muscle past Gaughran and open up a sight on goal but with Gaughran getting back at him, it was enough to see Hallett send his shot wide.
Both sets of front men were looking busy but both sets of defences were looking pretty strong and focused, with no genuinely great goal scoring chances for either side as the thirty minute mark passed.
Lee Smith and Mitchell were interlinking down the right for Lowestoft but Lowestoft as a team were not winning enough of the second balls in midfield and were missing quality in their final ball.
Lowestoft did come close again to opening the scoring, with Eagle putting in a good free kick from the left and onto the head of Crane, who headed down to the far post but just out of reach of the advancing Mitchell, a couple of yards out.
Crane was looking solid in defence and was also picking out some good balls from the back, which were helping Lowestoft to push Concord back. However, the final delivery was still missing the required quality to hurt Concord.
It was looking like a game that was mainly being played out in a compacted midfield but with Gaughran finding himself too deep and his fellow defenders pushing up, Concord played a ball over the top and breached the offside trap with Stokes putting the ball on a plate for Hallett in front of goal, only for him to poorly scuff his shot when he looked certain to score.
With it looking like being goalless at halftime and the referee practically with the whistle in his mouth, Lowestoft shut off and in a momentary laps of concentration, Stokes was allowed to cross from the left and Hallett was all alone to send a well placed header past Plummer and into the net for a 1-0 lead to Concord on the stroke of halftime. It was a bad time and way to concede, as Lowestoft trudged off to the dressing rooms, knowing they needed to improve.
The Lowestoft players had clearly been spoken to at half time, as they came out for the second half immediately trying to force the play more. Henderson chased the ball down well, stealing it off the right back Osifuwa and forcing a couple of early corners for Lowestoft.
Ten minutes in to the second half it was Lowestoft who were on top, as they started to win more of the second balls and control the game but were still looking for that final bit of quality.
There was much more determination to Lowestoft in this half and in the 66th minute the quality that had been missing then came to the fore, in a great move. A ball was knocked up to Defty, who headed down to Henderson on the left of him and with his squared ball across the goal finding Lee Smith, he had the simplest of tasks to finish and draw things level at 1-1 (66 mins).
The goal lifted Lowestoft, who were now on the front foot and looking like the team more likely to now go and take the lead.
Henderson was showing the levels of stamina that we've become accustom to, forcing Concord into a change in order to try and stop Lowestofts grip on the game.
Lowestoft were certainly winning a lot more of the second balls now and were also looking secure at the back with Crane and Gaughran fully focused on the task at hand.
As the final ten minutes approached, Concord started to work harder to somewhat stem the Lowestoft pressure.
Both sides made a change, with Robinson replacing goalscorer Hallett for Concord and Francis replacing Eagle for the Trawlerboys.
The change for Lowestoft set up an exciting end to the game, with the fresh attacking legs of Francis going up against the fragile looking right back Osifuwa.
It therefore wasn't long before Francis made a mark on the game, crossing from the left but with the cross turning into a shot and heading towards goal, Concord keeper Chambers was forced to turn it over the bar.
With the final minutes ticking away both sides had great chances to win the game and take all three points. Firstly Lowestoft came close with
Francis whipping in a great ball across the goalmouth and Easterford very nearly steering the ball in with his head, as Concord breathed a sigh of relief.
For Concord, Harris caused trouble on the edge of the box, opening it up for White to drag a shot wide. However moments later Concord and Stokes missed a glorious chance to steal it, with a cross from the left finding Stokes free and in front of goal and only a couple of yards out but he sensationally headed wide; what a miss right at the death.
As the final whistle sounded it was a fair result though, with Lowestoft earning their point and maintaining their unbeaten run which now stands at 12 games.
There were three players for me who stood out tonight. Henderson put in another unreal showing of stamina and 'never give up' attitude. While Gaughran and Crane looked extremely solid, especially in the second half. It was tempting to give my Man of the Match to Gaughran who has consistently impressed again this season. However since coming back into the side Crane has put some great performances in and played his part in this good run of results and performances for Lowestoft. Therefore with a great defensive shift and some good quality balls from the back, my Man of the Match is Greg Crane.
The march and unbeaten run continues, heading into Saturdays massive home game against leaders Whitehawk.
Let's fill the meadow and be that twelfth man, in what could be a defining match of the season.