Lowestoft Town 3 Leiston 0
Lowestoft take full advantage of ten men Leiston in the second half, to register an excellent 3-0 local derby win and take all three points.
Lowestoft Town: Jones, Jack Ainsley, Gaughran, Gleeson, Stuart Ainsley (Frew 58 mins), Okay, Henderson, Lee Smith, Eagle, Cunningham (Adam Smith 53 mins), Woods-Garness (Otobo 81 mins). Subs; Frew, Adam Smith, Otobo, Tarawali, Viner
Leiston: Phillips, Saker, Cawley, Tann, Jefford, Boardley, Lock, Heath, Henry (Barrett 81 mins), Ruel (Crisp 57 mins), Francis (Ottley-Gooch 81 mins). Subs; Bugdale, Ottley-Gooch, Crisp, Barrett, Webster
On a blazing hot afternoon at the Crown Meadow, Lowestoft take full advantage of ten men Leiston in the second half, to register an excellent 3-0 local derby win and take all three points.
The match saw the return of two ex Lowestoft players, as Francis and Saker lined up for Leiston. While Lowestoft made one change from the starting eleven at Hornchurch, bringing in Cunningham for Frew.
It was Cunningham who created the first effort on goal, sending a free-kick into the area but with everyone missing it the keeper was forced to turn it behind.
As has been noticeable since joining the club, Jones was being vocal in goal and was regularly shouting instructions to his team mates, as both teams looked to settle into the match.
It was Leiston who started to exert a bit of pressure with some good tempo football on the deck but Lowestoft gradually started to get into the game.
Henderson had a spring in his step and worked two openings in quick succession down the right but couldn't find a fellow team mate with his first cross and then saw his second cut out by the defender. Overall Leiston were using the ball a bit better than Lowestoft but crucially they hadn't exposed the Lowestoft defence, whereas Henderson had got in round the back of the Leiston defence on two occasions.
The first of five bookings in the match for Lowestoft came in the 30th minute, when Eagle made his first tackle of the match and was booked in what was a harsh and very poor decision by the referee.
Moments later Heath found space for Leiston after coming in from the right but pulled wide a powerless shot. While at the other end Woods-Garness was finding it hard against a solid Leiston defence.
With the first half going into the last ten minutes a few Lowestoft passes were starting to go astray and a bit of frustration was creeping into the play. Cunningham was lucky to just get a yellow card in the 38th minute, reacting to Lock going through the back of him by kicking out at his opponent.
It was frustrating for Lowestoft, as it was the third foul that Lock had made but unlike Eagle who had made just one tackle, there was a sense of double standards as the referee kept his book in his pocket for the Leiston midfielder Lock.
As half time approached it was already starting to look like a game that had 0-0 all over it but with Eagle pulling a shot across goal, Henderson was inches away from connecting with a back heal and breaking the deadlock.
With the match going into first half injury time, Cawley went right through the back of Cunningham out on the right and after a brief discussion between the referee and his linesman, a straight red was shown and Leiston were reduced to ten.
Lowestoft started the second half with a real spark to their play, producing some sharp passing and looking to stretch the play more than they had in the first half. An Eagle pass inside the box found Woods-Garness, who bore down on goal and fizzed a shot inches wide from the angle.
Sandwiched between two Lowestoft changes and a change for Leiston was the best and only real chance of the game for Leiston. As Heath broke well in midfield and slid a great ball into Lock but with just Jones to beat he put the chance wide of the Lowestoft goal.
Frew had come on to replace Stuart Ainsley with Adam Smith also being introduced in place of Cunningham, who was struggling after a tackle in midfield.
Frew was straight into the action and in truth played a big part in what was about to unfold for Lowestoft in the second period. Following a great break from Lowestoft, Lee Smith and Frew both thought that each other were going to take the shot on and as a result the chance went begging.
Just moments later though Frew was in the thick of it again and this time he made no mistake, with a cool finish to break the deadlock. Henderson did brilliantly to win the ball in midfield and after finding Woods-Garness, he in turn picked a lovely pass to send Frew in on goal and after showing great strength to brush the defender off he sent the ball under the keeper and into the net for 1-0 (62 mins). It was a crucial goal and after removing his top to celebrate he was brought down to earth with the referee brandishing a yellow card for his celebrations.
Woods-Garness and Eagle worked another chance just for Lowestoft moments later, as a wave of pressure started to build on Leiston. Lowestoft were really knocking the ball about with confidence now and Lee Smith was having another great game in the centre of the pitch.
It was Lee Smith who did well to get another Lowestoft move going, finishing up with Okay on the ball in the area, who dinked it nicely to his left for Woods-Garness to finish and send Lowestoft 2-0 up (74 mins).
Jones had to watch a speculative effort go wide from the halfway line by Heath but the blue juggernaught was now in top gear and the game was put beyond any doubt with a third goal.
Lee Smith, who had covered so much of the pitch, slid in a lovely ball to set Eagle away and there was no doubting the coolness of him as he finished really well to make it 3-0 (77 mins).
As the final ten minutes were entered Leiston made their two remaining changes. While Lowestoft were now in a position to throw Otobo into the mix and have a look at him, replacing Woods-Garness.
Lowestoft were really bossing the game now with the intense heat and ten men telling in the legs of the Leiston players. Lowestoft kept possession and eased to the final whistle, taking all three points and capping a miserable local derby weekend for Leiston.
It's not always easy to play against ten men, as Lowestoft know only too well. However, the players came out second half full of intent and put in a determined and stylish half of football.
Woods-Garness grabbed his first goal for the club and worked really hard as the lone striker, finding space and pulling the defence out of shape. Henderson made some great runs at the Leiston defence throughout the match and at the back Gleeson and Gaughran were solid and composed in their play. Eagle was back playing on a pitch which suits his game and yet again excelled with some clever and skilful passing in midfield. Special mention also has to go to Frew, who made a big impact after coming on and changed the game with a great finish for the opening goal.
The Man of the Match though was a midfielder who over recent weeks has consistently looked like a changed player since being moved to a central role. He was yet again impressive in this match with some great passing and a tremendous work rate, at times covering every inch of the pitch for his side. My Man of the Match was Lee Smith.
At the end of the match I caught up with a delighted Lee Smith:-
Fantastic result today and a great second half? "Terrific performance second half, as we went out there on the front foot and against ten men sometimes it can be difficult but we worked hard and got our rewards".
A Man of the Match performance from yourself today and you've looked really good in the centre of midfield? "Yeah, I'm relishing it in centre midfield. I spoke to Fleming pre-season and said that I wanted to be in there and to play more central. I can do a job out wide, like I did last season but in central midfield, especially when we play three with a holding midfielder it gives me and Eagle the licence to get forward and break teams down".
Well it certainly looks to be working and an assist from you today? "Yeah an assist for the Eagle goal. We work well together and Erkan is a good holding midfielder to have in there, as he bosses us around from that position. We got our reward today, as first half we were off the pace a little bit and the quality wasn't there but second half we put in a very good performance".
Lowestoft Town will next be in action on Saturday, away to Wingate and Finchley. However, make sure you come to the Crown Meadow this Wednesday to see the Youth kick off their season at home to Dereham Town (7:45pm Kick-off).