Lowestoft Town 2 Carshalton Athletic 3
The title hopes of Lowestoft Town all but disappeared with a below par performance against relegation battling Carshalton in a 3-2 home defeat.
Lowestoft Town: Plummer, Saker (A Smith 60 mins), Crane, Williams, Eagle (Araba 81 mins), Gleeson, Henderson, Okay, L Smith, Benjamin (Dawkin 60 mins), Defty. Subs; Dawkin, Araba, Fisk, Frew, A Smith
Carshalton Athletic: Hamman, Goodman, O'Toole, Sogbanmu, Joseph, Roberts, Pigden, Ashton (Males 84 mins), Bradford (Ayres 67 mins), Pinney (Murphy-McVey 90+ mins), Adelakun. Subs; Ayres, Males, Price, Murphy-McVey, Dudinski
The title hopes of Lowestoft Town all but disappeared as they put in a below par performance against relegation battling Carshalton in a 3-2 home defeat. Lowestoft played fairly well for the open twenty minutes or so but after that Carshalton worked really hard and deservedly came away with all three points.
Carshalton had put a few good results together of late and were fighting for their lives, so a tough game was on the cards for Lowestoft, who made one change from Tuesday with Benjamin replacing Dawkin and Lowestoft deploying the 4-1-4-1 formation again.
The earlier sunny and warm conditions had been replaced by cloud as the game got underway and the sides swapped ends for the kick-off.
The game got off to a flying start with a goal for each side in the opening two minutes of the match. Firstly Lowestoft took advantage of the Carshalton defence still being in the dressing room and with it all looking a bit messy, Defty managed to pick out Lee Smith in the box and with him all on his own he side footed home for 1-0 (1 mins). The lead lasted for just a matter of seconds though as Carshalton launched a ball forward and with the ball landing at the feet of the Lowestoft defence and them getting in a right muddle, it rolled to Pigden who gratefully accepted the chance and tucked it home for 1-1 (2 mins). It was poor defending by both sides but the equaliser had the away supporters draping banners and flags from behind the goal and signing in full voice.
The frantic start continued as Lowestoft nearly went ahead again, this time Benjamin getting to the line and cutting the ball back to Lee Smith but his shot was deflected wide off a defender. Lowestoft were getting in the groove now and the movement from midfield to the front was excellent with Benjamin in particular full of powerful running down the left.
It was Carshalton though who could and should have then taken the lead with a ball from midfield playing Pinney in behind and with him beating the offside trap he charged in on goal but luckily for Lowestoft his drilled shot smashed into the post and back into play.
With the exception of that moment it was Lowestoft who were creating more of the play and looking like restoring their lead. A free-kick was pumped forward and with Defty getting up well his header drifted to the far post where a blue and red shirt contested for the ball, which ended up only going behind for a goal kick.
Hamman was then forced to make a great save at full stretch for the visitors, following a lovely strike from Gleeson from 40 yards out which was heading towards the far top corner.
The centre half Sogbanmu was sticking to Defty but the Lowestoft striker was edging the battle at present and with a ball finding him from the left, he spun and shot in the box but there wasn’t enough on it as the keeper spilled it initially but claimed it on the second attempt.
Lowestoft hadn’t converted their chances and as the half went on Carshalton started to get into the game more and were closing Lowestoft down a lot quicker. Pinney showed great strength in shaking off Eagle and the Lowestoft defence to get to the line but he could only slam the ball into the side netting. Pinney and Adelakun were deceptive in their stature up front for Carshalton but they were powerful and proving a handful when bearing down on the Lowestoft defence.
Eagle and Benjamin were the threat for Lowestoft, who were now focusing most of their efforts down the left side. Some lovely one-touch football by Lowestoft ended with Eagle driving wide from a tight angle and shortly after this Eagle worked some space again and sent in a great cross from the left which was met by Defty, who’s downward header went just the wrong side at the foot of the post.
The vocal Carshalton supporters were then sent wild with Pigden stepping up to a free-kick on the edge of the Lowestoft area and hitting a sweet strike which got a very slight deflection off the wall before slamming into the back of the net to send Carshalton 2-1 up (35 mins).
Ashton was pulling all the strings in midfield for Carshalton and was looking impressive with Lowestoft now going off the boil and needing to lift themselves, especially in midfield.
Frustration was creeping in for the Trawlerboys and with half time being reached they had plenty of work to do in the second period to turn the scoreline around.
The second half started with Lowestoft not only being behind but also now having to kick into a testing wind.
It was Carshalton who nearly drew blood again though with a superb defence splitting pass from the back finding Pinney, who carried the ball into the area and forced Plummer to make a great diving save to his left to deny Carshalton from extending their lead even further.
Lowestoft then went down the other end and nearly levelled things up with Henderson and Eagle combining well down the left and Eagle sending in a fantastic cross to Defty but his header agonisingly came back off the foot of the post and across the goalmouth, before being cleared. Minutes later Henderson then got a sight of goal but sliced his effort wide, as Lowestoft continued to draw a blank in front of goal.
The Carshalton midfielder Ashton had looked really sharp all game and with him coming forward with the ball he found Pinney who from what must have been at least 30 yards out, hit a great shot and with Plummer back peddling it clattered the bar, came down on the goal line and with Plummer grappling to try and stop it from going in, it crossed the line to send Carshalton 3-1 ahead (52 mins). Lowestoft were now in big trouble and the handful of Carshalton fans behind the goal were singing their hearts out with joy.
Things then nearly went from bad to worse for Lowestoft with a Carshalton breakaway giving them a great chance for 4-1 but a succession of poor decisions let Lowestoft off the hook.
Lowestoft then called on the bench with Adam Smith and Dawkin coming on for Saker and Benjamin (60 mins). Adam Smith slotted in at left back, Gleeson went to right back, Eagle into the middle, Okay into the Gleeson position in front of the defence and Dawkin and Henderson taking up the wide roles with Lowestoft maintaining their 4-1-4-1 shape.
Lowestoft were trying to push and another Gleeson effort from distance had to be put over by the Carshalton keeper Hamman.
Carshalton then made their first change of the match with Ayres coming on for Bradford (67 mins). Lowestoft were really looking off colour though and the changes had done little to change that. Even the defensive partnership of Crane and Williams wasn’t its usual confident self with a few sliced balls and slip ups evident.
It was a different story for the Carshalton defence though with centre backs Sogbanmu and Roberts defending really well and making it difficult for Lowestoft to find a clear opening.
There was just over fifteen minutes remaining and it was hard to see where Lowestoft were going to get a goal from but from a throw in on the left Henderson was bundled over inside the box and the referee immediately pointed to the penalty spot. Up stepped Lee Smith for Lowestoft and on the sound of the whistle he nearly burst the net, belting the ball in and reducing the arrears to 3-2 (74 mins).
Lowestoft smelt an opportunity to get out of jail and with Henderson in full flow Sogbanmu cut across him and wiped him out, going into the referee’s book for his troubles.
Lowestoft had little over ten minutes left to try and snatch something from the game and with Lee Smith heading down in the box Henderson looked to be in but the keeper was alert in getting there before Henderson to put it behind for a corner.
Carshalton were now sitting off and inviting Lowestoft to try and break them down and with Araba replacing Eagle (81 mins) and Lowestoft switching to a 4-3-3, it was kitchen sink time for the blues. The Carshalton defence were looking solid though and to shore things up even further they replaced the excellent Ashton with Males (84 mins).
Lowestoft did manage to create one more chance in the dying minutes but with Lee Smith sending the ball in from the left side of the box, the ball was behind Henderson who had to try a tricky and audacious overhead kick which went wide of the post.
Six minutes of injury time were indicated but with another change being made and Carshalton continuing to shore things up at the back, Lowestoft were consigned to a 3-2 defeat that left their title hopes in tatters.
Lowestoft had chances and a couple of decent saves stopped them registering but overall Carshalton took their goals well and their determination and resolute defending saw the relegation threatened team leave the Crown Meadow with a deserved three points.
As a unit Lowestoft were off colour and under par, while also being guilty of not taking some of the chances which came their way. There were three players who put in good shifts for them though, with Henderson lively throughout and Eagle sending in some lovely crosses to set-up most of the chances that came the way of Lowestoft. My Man of the Match though was Lee Smith, who scored the first and kept his nerve to dispatch the penalty really well for his and Lowestoft’s second. He very nearly came away from the match with a hatrick and on more than one occasions he nearly turned provider with some good balls into the box.
The title is still an outside possibility and while the chance remains that will still be the target but realistically Lowestoft will travel to bitter rivals Bury Town on Tuesday night in search of a vital three points in trying to secure second spot in the play-offs.