Lowestoft Town 5 Hampton & Richmond 3
Lowestoft Town 5 Hampton & Richmond 3 image
In really testing conditions both sides play football in a fantastic spectacle, with Lowestoft ending up as 5-3 winners.
Lowestoft Town: Plummer, Williams, Gaughran (Benjamin 65 mins), Crane, A Smith, L Smith (Frew 75 mins), Fisk, Okay, Mitchell, Henderson, Defty (Gleeson 86 mins). Subs; Dawkin, Frew, Eagle, Gleeson, Benjamin
Hampton & Richmond: Chiwese, Kamara (Murray 86 mins), Bray, Holloway, Powell, Jeffreys, Turner, Moss, Moone (Bettamer 72 mins), Simmonds, Taggart. Subs; Bettamer, Reece, Murray, Hustwick, Harkin
In really testing conditions both sides play football in a fantastic spectacle, with Lowestoft showing incredible effort and determination to seal an exciting 5-3 victory at home to Hampton & Richmond. Another double by Defty and goals from Mitchell, Henderson and Frew, were enough to keep Lowestoft's unbeaten streak going and to lift them into third place in the table, still with four games in hand on the leaders Whitehawk.
As always, the ground staff put in some absolutely magnificent work to get today's game on, with it having rained continually since early afternoon on Friday. I'm sure I speak for everyone in saying a massive thank you for the hard work they have put in all season.
Henderson returned to the line-up in place of Gleeson, as Lowestoft switched back to a 4-4-2 formation. Ainsley was still missing from the squad with an ankle injury and both Francis and Cunningham were still absent with illness.
The game kicked off in pretty testing conditions, with Lowestoft kicking into the wind for the first half.
In most of the previous games Lowestoft have had to endure teams coming to the Crown Meadow and parking the bus for a draw. However, to the credit of Hampton & Richmond, it was clear from the off that they were here to play football and look for a result. They took little time in getting into the game and with them working a ball inside from the right and Okay missing an interception, Simmonds played the ball back to Taggart, who forced a one-handed save by Plummer with a shot that didn't quite have enough behind it to beat the keeper.
Hampton had certainly not come to sit back and with two up top and them showing solid passing early on, it was clear that the supporters were going to be treated to a good game of football.
Lowestoft are brimming with confidence at the moment though and with some superb build up play and football by Lowestoft, started by Adam Smith and Mitchell, it ended with Lee Smith sitting one up from the right and Mitchell heading in from close range at the far post to send Lowestoft into an early 1-0 lead (4 mins).
Hampton very nearly levelled things up soon after, with them being allowed all too easily to make an opening in the box and with their leading scorer Moone aiming a shot towards the far post, Lowestoft were relieved to see it drift wide.
It was already showing the hallmarks of being a great game, with both sides looking good on the ball and Lowestoft in particular displaying some crisp and confident passing. However, with the wind swirling and in their faces, it was not proving to be the simplest of afternoons for the defence, in what were very tricky conditions to read the flight of the ball. As a result there were a couple of scrambled clearances by the Lowestoft defence, with the ball not quite falling right for Hampton to be able to take full advantage.
Mitchell has been on the left in the last few games and has been struggling with a dip in form but with him coming in of the left regularly, he was playing well and was helping Fisk, Okay and Lee Smith in making the midfield tick over nicely.
It was definitely the sort of conditions in which a shot from distance could reap rewards and this is exactly what Mitchell tried, bending one over the bar as the game continued to impress.
With thirty minutes gone Lowestoft were still ahead but Hampton were still very much in the game, forcing a few corners with some great play down the channels, especially by Taggart.
It was therefore a perfect time for Lowestoft to double their lead and with Crane pumping a free-kick forward, Gaughran was found in the area and headed across the goal for Henderson to slam in from close range for 2-0 (33 mins). Hampton had played some good football but the quality and confidence in the play by Lowestoft was worthy of the lead in this game.
Taggart had already shown intent down the right side of midfield for Hampton and with him sending a free-kick in from the right, Plummer went to make a regulation claim of the ball but disastrously let the ball slip through both of his hands, behind him and into the goal for 2-1 (39 mins).
The goal had been handed to them but Hampton were putting in a great amount of effort themselves and nearly had a sight on goal to level things, with a ball round the back seeing Moone get ahead of Williams but with Williams showing superb pace and strength, he got back at Moone to hold him off and see the ball behind.
Defty, as we've now become used to, was showing tremendous touches and ball play when dropping off and was putting in another classy showing for Lowestoft, who looked like they would reach the break ahead. That was no doubt the plan for the blues but on the stroke of halftime Taggart found space again to drift one into the far post from the right and with Moss at hand, he headed down, past Plummer and inside the post to draw things level at 2-2 (45 mins). It had been a close game but Lowestoft no doubt would have been disappointed to have let a two goal lead slip and to have allowed Taggart a bit too much freedom out on the right to deliver a number of crosses.
Lowestoft appeared for the second half with the wind behind them now, looking to take advantage.
It was Hampton however, who were quickest out of the blocks following the interval and Taggart was again the player causing the issues, giving Adam Smith a tough game, as Hampton started the second period with some solid passing. The early impetus shown by Hampton then got its reward, with a ball down the left putting them in behind and with Gaughran coming off second best on this occasion, the ball was sent across the box and with Plummer coming out, he couldn't stop Taggart finishing with ease from close range and to turn a 2-0 deficit into a 3-2 lead for his side (51 mins).
The Lowestoft response was immediate, with Defty hitting a low, hard shot from 25 yards out, that just zipped past the post and slammed into the hoardings. Defty was not to be denied though and literally a minute later a ball from the right by Lowestoft bobbled around in the Hampton box and with Defty at hand he finished it for 3-3 (53 mins). It really was turning into a fantastic game with both sides making for a great spectacle and the effort being shown in such horrid conditions was admirable. It was so compelling and both sides were going for it; with Moone being slid in from midfield for Hampton and his shot across goal being well saved by Plummer and Lowestoft then going up the other end and having a chance bundled behind for a corner.
With sixty five minutes on the clock Benjamin stripped off and replaced Gaughran, lining up against his old club, in which he played for against Lowestoft at the start of the season. As a result of the change, Mitchell dropped to right back, Williams moved to centre back and Benjamin took up position on the left of midfield.
Lowestoft benefitted from an own goal last weekend and with them sending in a ball from the left they nearly benefitted again, with the defender very nearly hooking the ball into his own net but luckily seeing it drift past the far post.
Both sides had a number of players in attack or pushing on from midfield and neither were willing to end the game with anything except a win, as substitutes appeared from both benches.
Just as Lowestoft were setting themselves for one final effort though, Crane came in with a strong tackle on Bray, in an area in which there was no danger from Hampton and with the referee reaching for his cards, Crane was given his marching order, as Lowestoft were reduced to ten. Some will argue it was a harsh decision and some will say that in today's game the referee was just adhering to the rules laid down but to hear boos for Bray after the incident was disappointing, as either way it was a tough tackle that took the ball and the player.
The sending off could have so easily disrupted Lowestoft and allowed a hungry Hampton to take advantage but in fact it actually had the opposite effect on Lowestoft, as they lifted themselves and went for the win. The win was made even more of a realisation in the 83rd minute, with Frew crossing into the danger zone and with the ball coming off a defender and falling nicely for Defty, he controlled the ball and hit it home, with the keeper Chiwese getting a touch but unable to stop Lowestoft going 4-3 up (83 mins).
Both sides then made a change and with Lowestoft now leading and just minutes left on the clock, Gleeson was introduced for two goal hero Defty, to allow Lowestoft to shore things up and see out the win. Gleeson moved to the back with Williams and Mitchell was moved back out to right back, highlighting what an important and versatile player he is for Lowestoft.
Hampton understandably had to push higher up the pitch to try and draw level again but as a result they were caught out by a faint header in midfield by Lowestoft, which released Frew and as he pulled away from the defence and bared down on goal, he showed great composure to finish with ease and secure the win by sending Lowestoft 5-3 ahead (88 mins).
The game was now beyond Hampton but they had certainly played a big part in a fantastic game of football and as the final minutes came to a close, Lowestoft secured another win and started to turn the screw on their promotion rivals.
It was yet another great team performance, oozing with confidence and quality from a team that are hungry for promotion and hungry to win every point on offer.
Over the last few weeks a number of players could so easily be mentioned for putting in great performances and as a result the Man of the Match honours are becoming harder and harder to decide. Mitchell was a lot more himself today and had disposed of the frustration and replaced it by forcing himself on the game and playing a big part in midfield, regularly cutting inside and contributing to some great build up play by Lowestoft. Fisk and Okay were both on their games again, with some precise and determined tackling, while also picking some key passes to set the seeds for a Lowestoft attack. My Man of the Match for this game though was the big man himself; the tank, the battering ram, the goal getter, Jack Defty. He's a very deceiving character but has one of the best touches I've seen, with numerous little flicks and lay-offs being the catalyst to most of the Lowestoft moves. His prowess in the air is also a sight to be seen and yet again he was in the right place at the right time to sniff out another two goals for Lowestoft...........without doubt the Player of the Season so far for me.
I can't end this report without mentioning the referee, as the officials don't normally get praise but I thought that the referee was excellent today and with the tough conditions he allowed the game to flow and applied common sense, in line with the conditions whenever making a decision.
Another superb result and performance but as supporters and as a team, we need to just focus on a game at a time and not get to embroiled in what others are doing. Let's move forward as one and keep the positivity and support going......and keep believing!!
The next game is on Tuesday night, when Lowestoft travel to Thurrock.